The Next Small Thing


My friend Jonah Campbell, who is much smarter than I am, tagged me in this Next Big Thing writer-chain-letter that’s making the rounds. I decided to participate even though I have very little to say.

What is the working title of your book?

I’m not writing a book.

What genre does your book fall under?

Haven’t you read the internet? “The book” is dead.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

You’re not a very active listener.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie adaptation?

Great question. Patty and Walter Berglund will be both be played by Eddie Murphy.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Okay, look. Here are some things I’m actually working on. I’m really more of an editor than a writer; my strength is working with other people’s text and shaping it into what it fully wants to be. So most of my time is devoted to editing Maisonneuve. Other than that, I’m currently finalizing an essay I wrote last summer at the Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism program. It’s a part-memoir part-profile about my closest friend, Dan, who was paralyzed in an accident as a teenager. It will be published by a large Canadian magazine in a few months. The same magazine just commissioned me to write a feature on sport and disability to coincide with the 2014 Paralympics in Scochi, so I’m starting to research that.

For the past year or so I’ve been trying to write more fiction. I’m currently tinkering with this particular short story. The last story I published was very austere “speculative fiction,” whereas this next one is semi-autobiographical and realist and emotional—my attempt at what lazy reviewers have taken to calling “big-hearted” or “life-affirming” fiction. It’s set in Montreal, features characters in their twenties, etc. I’m still figuring out the kind of fiction I want to write, so I’ve been a little all-over-the-map. I’ve got one that depicts a killer-whale attack in a mythical quasi-Edenic village and becomes a Just So Story about the birth of violence and the creation of the first prison. (I’m sort of obsessed with animals and the law.) It’s bizarre and I don’t know what to do with it. And I’m currently writing a first-person story loosely about depression and technophobia.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

You know, in most good interviews, questions follow logically from the preceding answers.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m very slow at writing fiction. I write a few hundred words at a time, leave it for weeks or months, come back, edit the hell out of it, write a little more, repeat. I’d like to become one of those people who gets up at the crack of dawn and writes all morning before work, but I’m not one of those people.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

At various points: boredom with the kind of fiction I was reading; excitement about the kind of fiction I was reading.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Very little.

Why are you so effortlessly charming and good-looking?

Genes, exercise, a cache of bon mots, a recent fashionable haircut.

The five writers I’m tagging:

Deni Y. Béchard

Emma Healey

Alexandra Molotkow

Saleema Nawaz

Jacob Wren


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