Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions (Trillium Finalists Series) with Pasha Malla

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Ten Questions (Trillium Finalists Series) with Pasha Malla

Pasha Malla's collection of short stories, The Withdrawl Method (House of Anansi Press, 2008), has been nominated for the 2009 Trillium Book Award. Enter Open Book's June contest to win an Ontario Authors Prizepack that includes the nine English-language Trillium-nominated books.

OBT:

First, a huge congrats on being a Finalist for the 22nd Annual Trillium Book Awards! Could you tell us about your nominated book, The Withdrawal Method?

PM:

Thanks! TWM is the result of about five years of work that started when I was in school at Concordia University. It’s definitely the best collection of stories I’ve ever written. (NB: It’s also the only collection of stories I’ve ever written, but that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive.)

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote The Withdrawal Method?

PM:

Ha, no, none at all. To be honest, I couldn’t really imagine anyone reading it beyond my immediate friends and family. And even then I assumed they’d just politely buy a copy and let it gather dust on their shelves.

OBT:

What were you doing when you received news of your Trillium nomination?

PM:

Probably “working”—which is to say, sitting blankly in front of my computer, waiting for emails to show up in my Inbox.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

PM:

Man, I feel like I can work pretty much anywhere if I’m into something. I cranked out 2,000 words sitting in an airport a few weeks ago—and then I’ll have entire days at home, in peace and quiet, when I don’t write a single word.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

PM:

When I was in high school I wrote a column for the “20-Below” (writers under 20 years-old) section of the London Free Press about my experience coaching Under-11 soccer. I think it paid $50. My first fiction publication, in a Seattle-based journal called Monkeybicycle, was a story about a couple waking up to discover a cruise ship in their backyard swimming pool.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Ontario” gift, what would those books be?

PM:

That’s a tough question, and if you asked the same thing tomorrow I’d likely give you a totally different answer, but for now I’ll go with Maud Barlow’s Blue Gold, Ken Babstock’s Airstream Land Yacht, and Brian Doyle’s Angel Square. Or maybe I’d just take this Ontario neophyte by Coach House Books, get the folks there to give them a little tour, and then have them pick any three titles from the catalogue—what a great little place and press, a really wonderful indication of all the exciting things happening quietly in this province.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

PM:

The Culture of Cities by Lewis Mumford, The Brothers Karamazov (slowly) and True to Life, Lawrence Weschler’s book about David Hockney. I just finished Cesar Aira’s Ghosts, which I liked a lot. Next up are two Javier Marias novels, A Heart so White and The Man of Feeling—and always emails, tons and tons of emails.

OBT:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

PM:

Someone once told me before you sit down to start something new, ask yourself, “Why does the world need this?”

OBT:

What is your next project?

PM:

A novel called People Park. If all goes according to schedule, Anansi should be putting it out in 2010.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

PM:

Well, I’d probably—and idealistically—tell them never to try to get published, which feels inherently compromising. Just write the stuff you want to write, work hard, read lots and do lots. Doing lots is maybe the most important thing of all: if you don’t get out and act like you’re alive, what the hell are you going to write about?




Read more about The Withdrawal Method at the Anansi website.

For more information about the Trillium Book Award, go to the Ontario Media Development Corporation's website.

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1 comment

Pasha's presentation at the Trillium Event was probably the most innovative. The audience was in stitches, and the reading was terrific.

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