Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Novelist Dennis Bock

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Dennis Bock

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.

Dennis Bock is a novelist and short story writer with three critically acclaimed books: Olympia (1998), The Ash Garden (2001), and The Communist's Daughter (2006). He teaches at the University of Toronto.

Dennis's Links:


I am... a writer

I am known to... think about the past and imagine the future and then try to write about it

I do this in... spite of the fact that the present was or will be the place I end up spending all of my time in

I do this because... writing for me is the process of removing myself from the here and now and casting forward or back in order to gain some sort of perspective on the things I know or hope to know

I do this when I... am alone and because I am by nature a very nostalgic person who is usually in at least two places and time zones at any one time

The way I do this is... as natural to me as throwing a baseball is to a pitcher

At his/her core, a Writer is... determined beyond his abilities to make a book that lives beyond his lifetime

As opposed to an Author, who is... pleased not to have to worry about shit like that

A Writer is responsible for... getting inside his characters' heads and hearts

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... the name of the shampoo his characters use

At its core, Publishing is... the bridge between writer and reader

As opposed to Editing, which is... a series of essential and often very frustrating questions

A Publisher should always... do whatever they can to find readers for their writers

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... usually not really ready at all but just a yoke around the writer's neck that needs to be slipped off for a time so he can get some perspective and a good ass-kicking by those he trusts

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is... the greatest sense of liberation a writer can know

A Manuscript should always... be printed on recycled paper because it's probably going to end up in the trash anyway

As opposed to a Book, which should always... be passed around among friends

At its core, Bookselling is... a great service to writers and a labour of love for those committed to the business

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... something I spend too little time thinking about

The smallest unit of narrative is... the story you choose not to read to your kids when they're wangy-tired and grumpy for sleep

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... the fact that hope always lies ahead

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... the real possibility that your hopes will be crushed

In the future we will all... fall over dead

At his/her core, a Reader is... interested in finding out what happens next

However, the ideal Reader is... the little old man who hovers over my shoulder and keeps telling me that tomorrow will be a better day

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.

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George Murray

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Go to George Murray’s Author Page