Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Poet and Editor Natalie Zina Walschots

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The Questionless Books Interview: Poet and Editor Natalie Zina Walschots

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.

Natalie Zina Walschots' first book of poetry, Thumbscrews (Snare Books, 2007) is a sadomasochistic exploration of poetic language. Her newest manuscript, Supervillains, explores the darker side of sexual desire and attraction. Her poetry has recently appeared in Carousel, broken pencil, The Peter F. Yacht Club, dANDelion, ditch, Last Supper, Misunderstandings Magazine, Open Letter, and Rampike. Natalie completed her MA in English/Creative Writing at the University of Calgary. She has served as the Managing Editor of both filling Station and dANDelion magazines. She also co-curated the Flywheel reading series from 2005 to 2008. She currently serves on the executive board of the Scream Literary Festival as the Volunteer Coordinator. She was recently employed as a writer-in-residence through the NOW HEAR THIS!/S.W.A.T. Program, the literacy outreach arm of the Descant Arts & Letters Foundation. She writes live concert reviews, album reviews, interviews, blog posts, and articles for, Alternative Matter, Angry Metal Guy, and About Heavy Metal, and is the Managing Editor of Canada Arts Connect. Her base of operations is located in Toronto.

Natalie's Links:


I am a supervillain.

I am known to bite of more than I can chew and rush into things headlong. I am a sucker for a grand gesture.

I do this in the form of complete and profound obsessions taking the place casual interests. Poetry, heavy metal, comic books, video games, sadomasochism, teratology, molecular gastronomy.

I do this because I don't see a clear alternative that is half as fun. Also, I suffer from chronic anxiety, and there is a magical alchemical balance of busy-ness and excitement that keeps the demons at bay.

I do this when I am awake, asleep, or somewhere in between.

The way I do this is always in flux, as I grapple with the life-work balance that plagues so many artists. My greatest triumph is surrounding myself with positive influences, energetic collaborators, and friends.

At his/her core, a Writer is a producer of coherent, cogent, informative text; and/or artful, expressive, meaningful text.

As opposed to an Author, who is in the business of world-building.

A Writer is responsible for doing something that involves communication and expression.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for creating that eerie feeling that the world you live in is only just as solid as a text.

At its core, Publishing is the process of producing copies of a text en masse and ensuring that those copies reach the appropriate audience, to the mutual benefit of audience, publisher, and writer/author.

As opposed to Editing, which is the process of making sure that text is presentable, well-crafted, finely polished, and as artful or coherent as it can be.

A Publisher should always be fluid and flexible, to meet the changing needs of the reader/writer dynamic.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always be a pendant, a stickler for detail, a lover of manuals and guidebooks.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is handed off simply because the writer has gone blind from moving the same words around for too long.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is an agreed upon final product, where a writer, publisher, and editor decide together it may see the light of day.

A Manuscript should always be messy and exciting.

As opposed to a Book, which should always be messy and exciting, with fewer typos.

At its core, Bookselling is an art in itself, a matchmaking process between texts and readers.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is convincing a large group of people that a text is transformative, something to be undertaken my people in suits.

The smallest unit of narrative is the breath.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is it feels like the apocalypse.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is it feels like the apocalypse.

In the future we will all will have even fancier phones we don't know how to use.

At his/her core, a Reader is a traveller, someone willing to stretch and learn and grow.

However, the ideal Reader is an addictive personality, an escapist, someone who dwells equally comfortable in several states of being. A minion.

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