Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: Novelist Marina Endicott

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The Questionless Books Interview: Novelist Marina Endicott

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.

Marina Endicott was born in Golden, BC, and grew up with three sisters and a brother, mostly in Nova Scotia and Toronto. She worked as an actor and director before going to England, where she began to write fiction. After London she went west to Saskatoon, where she was dramaturge at the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre for many years before going farther west to Mayerthorpe, Alberta; she now lives in Edmonton. Her first novel, Open Arms, was short-listed for the Amazon/Books In Canada First Novel award in 2002. Her second, Good to a Fault, was a finalist for the 2008 Giller Prize and won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, Canada/Caribbean region. The Little Shadows, her latest book, longlisted for the 2011 Giller Prize, was a finalist for this year’s Governor General’s Award and will be published in the UK and Australia in spring 2012. She is at work on a new novel, Hughtopia.

Marina's Links:


I am who I am, almost.

I am known to give good reading.

I do this in any venue offered.

I do this because I believe (even after years of torture by bad readings), that there is something ineffably perfect about a good public reading: the pleasure of fiction/the wild possibility of theatre.

I do this whenever asked, at the drop of a hat, to test out unfinished work, to illuminate finished work; I promulgate it every second Thursday at the Literary Saloons Lynn Coady and I run in Edmonton.

The way I do this is with useful apprehension, a bit of slapstick, and sometimes joy.

At his/her core, a Writer is someone who sits down over and over to put words on paper.

As opposed to an Author, who is (see above, circa 1924, in an ascot tie).

A Writer is responsible for voting, paying the mortgage, providing first aid to children, honouring parents, taking out the garbage, making supper, slipping the odd toonie to street people, and sitting down to write again after all the rest of it is done.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for not responding to reviews (even if one can’t help reading them), working as hard at a signing for three people in Timmins as for three hundred in Toronto, not looking too fatuous/dopey in photos; who is a commodity.

At its core, Publishing is business.

As opposed to Editing, which is an altruistic art, an act of hope.

A Publisher should always support and indulge the writer—in effect, should baby her or him.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always question/doubt/strive to understand the work; hold the writing and the writer’s own character to the highest scrutiny; needle, harry, question again, and believe that the book, though brilliant, can be better—in effect, should expect the writer to be an adult.

A Manuscript that’s ready to be read by others is somewhat malleable, like a baby’s head before the fontanelle has closed.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is unfixable, ossified.

A Manuscript should always be in 12 pt Times New Roman, double-spaced.

As opposed to a Book, which should always be unutterably beautiful.

At its core, Bookselling is a vocation.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is sometimes brilliantly professional, but always a stab in the dark.

The smallest unit of narrative is Yes. The smallest unit of editing is tl/dr

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is that the next one might achieve the vision.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is that the next one does not achieve the vision because… tl/dr

In the future we will all be dead and it won’t matter so much. Jeez, George, this is getting me down.

At his/her core, a Reader is an unbelievable gift—that someone goes out and works, takes the hard-earned money and decides to spend it on your book, and invests a good slog of time hoping that you will entertain or engage or enlighten her—that’s an amazing act of faith. Every reader is an honour. All we want in life, all we aspire to when we start is one person who understands us.

However, the ideal Reader is my husband/critic/understander/scourge. (But he never reads my books.)

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