Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I don't know if I'm supposed to describe anything on these or not. A shot of my desk, and you can see the original painting for the cover of my first book on the wall. I looked at that the whole time I worked on that book.

The other one shows the general state of the room, which has become a sort of storage space for all of the band things as well. some boxes of cds, tshirts, instruments, etc.

When I'm in full writing mode, my laptop would be smack in the middle of that desk. and I'd like to say that the desk would be less messy, but probably it wouldn't be. I have a bunch of random notebooks that I jot things down in when I'm out and about. and they're always scattered around. When I don't have a notebook, I use a lot of scrap pieces of paper. And then they stay on the desk, too, until they are used.

Chris Eaton for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a witty one-liner or a bio)?

CHRIS EATON Chris Eaton is a writer and musician. He is rarely witty.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book, or when are you publishing your next?

CE I started writing in grade 5. I used to write a "novel" every week. Probably 10 to 20 pages. And then I was allowed to read them in class. First actual book I wrote was in grade 10. I probably wrote one a year in high school, and recently destroyed the last one I found. Embarrassingly bad, but helped me establish some kind of routine and the ability to write fiction while doing a ton of other things, which I continue to this day.

Then I stopped writing in university for some reason, and only got back into it around 2001. Never really had interest in writing short stories. First published novel was The Inactivist in 2003. The Grammar Architect came out in 2005 or 2006. And I'm working on this new book now, hoping to find some time to finish it in 2009.

DS Where do write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

CE I write pretty much anywhere I can find time, but I like to be in the same places as much as possible. I wake up pretty early, so while we've been touring, I've been trying to write in the morning before the rest of the band wakes up. It's not working so well, though. My favourite, most productive place I ever wrote in was the research library in the Parc d'Omar in Panama City, where I started the book I'm working on now. Two years ago. I walked there every day for four months through a neighbourhood of embassies, past the old abandoned home of Noriega, making friends with the wife of an ex-presidential candidate, taking photos of exotic flowers and often meeting up with the same monkey on a telephone wire.

Outside is hard with a laptop. But sometimes i still write longhand like that.

And you gotta keep your writing out of the bed. It will ruin everything else you do there. Work and bed do not mix.

DS Why do you work where you do (at you desk because it is quiet/outside because it helps you think/in the park because you can smoke, etc)?

CE Oh, I think I hit this already.

DS What are you working on now?

CE I'm trying to write a really long novel about identity and coincidence and a lot of other things. How we become who are. The things that define who we are. Hoping to create a compelling flow to it that isn't reliant on a linear plot, instead creating the illusion of that through the stories of 25 independent characters with the same name. It's a theory I've been working with for years, at least in my head, that coincidental similarities and the repetition of key imagery creates a sort of "potential meaning", in the same way you may have learned about potential and kinetic energy in high school physics. "Potential meaning" involves the reader a lot more, I think. It's just there, waiting for the reader to carom it into some new direction. nnn

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Chris Eaton

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Nigel Beale for DESK SPACE


NIGEL BEALE Motivated by an insane, deep-seated love of books, Nigel Beale has, during the past several years, traveled the globe interviewing an impressive selection of award-winning authors and accomplished booksellers, publishers, collectors and book experts for a radio program he hosts called The Biblio File. Based in Ottawa, Canada, he is a freelance writer/broadcaster who specializes in literary journalism.

DS When did you start writing?

NB At age 2-3, in crayon, on the walls of my father's study. It got noticed.

Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

NB I write in all sorts of places. In notebooks in longhand, at coffee shops, in my living room, at art galleries, in theatres and barber shops, walking dark alleys, in airports, on airplanes, in vitro, in name it.

Once I've got it scrawled on the page, I type it out, in Word, on the computer, and in the process edit it.

DS Why do you work where you do (at you desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think, in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

NB I work at my desk largely because it is surrounded by several bookshelves full of literary criticism.

DS What are you working on now?

NB Quite a range of things. I'm doing some preparatory reading for author interviews to be conducted during The Ottawa International Writers and Toronto Harbourfront Authors Festivals in October, a review of the Turner retrospective currently on at the Met in New York for Border Crossings magazine, and a variety of other deeply rewarding, very poorly paid projects. I also have a novel, mostly finished, that sits up in the attic, wailing occasionally for attention.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Lauren Kirshner for DESK SPACE


LAUREN KIRSHNER Lauren Kirshner, novelist, poet, author of Where We Have to Go, forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart in April 2009.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

LK I started writing when I was about 11. I wrote a poem about a man who falls in love his neighbour who looks just like Marlene Dietrich. When I transitioned into writing about gerbils and families my parents seemed relieved.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

LK I write at my desk, which is in my bedroom, or I sit in my pink armchair. I live above a restaurant on a busy street so there's always ambient noise. I sometimes enjoy it, especially the sound of the streetcar when it's raining. I have three cats and there's usually one bouncing off a chair or a wall so I'm never at a loss for stimulation. I wish my desk was more interesting, something along the lines of David McGimpsey's. Right now it's an Ikea slab I got for free from someone who suddenly left the country.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think, in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

LK I work at my desk because I like the routine and quiet. If I go to a cafe, I usually end up watching people and feeling urgently social.

DS What are you working on now?

LK I'm editing my novel and fiddling here and there with an untitled collection of poems about zoos. In the winter, I'll begin working on the creative writing curriculum for The I Live Here Foundation's education program, which builds artistic opportunities for vulnerable youth around the world.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Coming up

This week on DESK SPACE: Lauren Kirshner