Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Novelist and Journalist Russell Smith

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Russell Smith, photo credit Jowita Bydlowska

In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales / publicity / production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.

Russell Smith’s most recent novel is Girl Crazy (HarperCollins). He is currently adapting it for cinema, for New Real Films and House of Films, Toronto. He writes on art and culture every Thursday in the Globe and Mail.

Russell's Links:

Girl Crazy
Globe and Mail

I am a perpetually tired, bored dad who dreams of writing.

I am known to mix techno music in the basement.

I do this in Toronto.

I do this because I hope to be a paid club dj some day.

I do this when the three-year-old has gone to sleep.

The way I do this is with a small bottle of whiskey and a Traktor S-4 controller. And headphones.

At his/her core, a Writer is an observer and recorder.

As opposed to an Author, who is an answerer of emails about dates for meetings.

A Writer is responsible for nothing whatsoever.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for participating in meetings.

At its core, Publishing is gambling.

As opposed to Editing, which is drawing out meaning from impressions.

A Publisher should always refrain from explaining to authors that acquisitions are made by the marketing department.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always blame the marketing department.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others has an ending (completely written, not in point form or in promises made over wine).

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which has had the minutely detailed childhood memories excised.

A Manuscript should always be printed in 12-point type (many editors are in middle-age or beyond; have pity on their eyes) and have its pages sequentially numbered (you would be amazed by how many people forget the page numbers or have them confused in some way).

As opposed to a Book, which should merely refrain, on its “Acknowledgments” page, from histrionics about personal sacrifice or smug self-deprecation.

At its core, Bookselling is sharing knowledge about literature.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is making videos with partially dressed but very blurry women in them.

The smallest unit of narrative is the parenthesis.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is ease of access to publishing.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is ease of access to publishing.

In the future we will all write solely for women.

At her core, a Reader is exploring her past.

However, the ideal Reader is learning about the world.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website

Go to George Murray’s Author Page