Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Dirty Dozen, with Vivek Shraya

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Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya is a multimedia artist whose work includes singing, songwriting, filmmaking and more. He recently expanded his horizons still further, as the author of God Loves Hair (Arsenal Pulp Press), illustrated by Juliana Neufeld.

Vivek's literary debut, a collection of linked stories for young adults, delves into the disorienting process of childhood discovery around gender identity, sexuality, religion, belonging, family and more. His writing has been praised as a "a DIY masterpiece" (Rabble.ca), while Sara Quin of musical duo Tegan & Sara read the book and declared, "I wish [Vivek and I] had know one another during those unforgiving and difficult times".

Today Vivek takes on our Dirty Dozen interview series, where authors shares twelve unexpected facts about themselves. He tells us about the online quiz he'd love to take, a very Canadian craving and his best advice for emerging writers.

Don't miss the chance to catch Vivek in person — along with a bevy of other fantastic authors — at the Toronto launch for God Loves Hair on April 8, 2014. Click here for more details.

  1. The best advice I have ever received is: You have to make the bad art to make the good art.
  2. My default state is existential. The big questions: Where am I going? What is the meaning of ____? What happens next? All the time. Consequently, I need to nap a lot.
  3. I wrote most of my first book, God Loves Hair, in my bedroom closet.
  4. I think Landslide by Fleetwood Mac is the best song of all time. I can’t count how many times I have sung and consoled myself with: Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? / Can I handle the seasons of my life? The best cover is by the Smashing Pumpkins.
  5. I keep waiting for the “What character from Anne of Green Gables are you?” BuzzFeed quiz, because I still haven’t figured it out. Am I Anne? Am I Diana? Is it because I am Anne that I am in love with Diana?
  6. Of all the social media sites and apps I have joined, LiveJournal is my favourite. I miss reading about and engaging in people’s thoughts, feelings and experiences, outside of 140 characters. I miss that rousing feeling when your LJ crush posted a new entry or responded to yours.
  7. What prevented me from committing suicide in my teenage years was my mother’s love, an unexpected phone call from a friend, my school counsellor’s sense of humour and the fear of not knowing what Sheryl Crow’s next album would sound like.
  8. If I could have possess anyone else’s literary skills, I would want Jonathan Franzen’s. If I could possess anyone else’s vocal skills, I would want Whitney Houston’s.
  9. I have always worried that prison was an inevitability for me. Uh oh.
  10. There is no food I crave more than a butter tart.
  11. I unfailingly believe in the power of a well-crafted sentence, an unpredictable melody, an unprompted kindness, an answered email and a crisp, white dress shirt.
  12. The best advice I can give to an aspiring artist/writer is: Be persistent.


Vivek Shraya is a multimedia artist, working in the mediums of music, performance, literature, and film. Winner of the We Are Listening International Singer/Songwriter Award, Vivek has released albums ranging from acoustic folk-rock to electro synth-pop. His most recent is Breathe Again, a tribute to the songs of R&B artist Babyface. His most recent film, What I LOVE about being QUEER, has expanded to include an online project and book with contributions from around the world. He lives in Toronto.

Check out all the Dirty Dozen interviews in our archives.

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