Writer in Residence

Happy New Year Everybody!

By Koom Kankesan


Hello wayfarers of the Word!


Thanks so much to the OpenBook team for having me as the writer-in-residence for this month. I'm looking forward to it!

I've taken the prompt to get creative with my blogs during my tenure. Instead of doing a string of blogs simply expressing my own opinions, I've been interviewing a number of writers to see what they think. I figured a collective hive mind might be much more interesting in this case. As opposed to the usual creative writing topics (plot, character, story), I've tried to diverge a little, go a little lateral with my queries. As you'll see in the upcoming days, I've tried to find esoteric and unusual topics to converse about with these interesting writers... though we do sometimes talk about plot, character, and story too. Some of these writers are people I know and our conversations might spring forth from something we've talked about previously. Others might be acquaintances whom I think have something interesting to relate. A few are strangers I approached for some personal reason or other because I thought they would be fascinating interviewees.

Before each interview, I'll try and give some preamble to put the interview into context. I don't really have a theme per se. If there is one, I'd go with... comic books. Comics were my gateway to writing and culture. They got me into art, they got me into film, and they got me being a reader and writer. When I was a kid, teachers would take away our comic books if they caught us reading them in class. Now, as a teacher myself, I see them promoted in schools and libraries as tools for literacy. So, I thought I'd visit that part of myself (that never left) during some of these interviews. There will also be interviews with fiction writers of course... non fiction writers too, a couple of poets, memoirists... there's a continuum.

As always, please send me your feedback or queries. If we can get conversations started while I'm in the midst of posting, I will be able to address what you say.

So thank you for this time together. I hope that the new year brings you the profound flashes of genius, fifteen minutes of fame, surges of inspiration, bolts of health and energy, will to persevere in times of hardship, resourceful financial solutions, creative strategy maneuvers, dexterity with language and style, times of insight and wonder, and connection & fellowship you all deserve.

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.

Koom Kankesan was born in Sri Lanka. While his family lived abroad, the civil war in Sri Lanka broke out and this caused them to seek a new home. They eventually settled in Canada and have lived here since the late eighties. He has a background in English Literature and Film Studies. Koom contributed arts journalism to various publications before becoming a high school teacher in the Toronto District School Board. Since working as a teacher, he has taken semesters off now and again to work on his fiction. The Tamil Dream, his new book, is his most ambitious to date. It looks at the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka and how it affected Tamils here in Canada. Besides literature and film, Koom has deep interests in history and science, and an enduring love for comic books.

You can write to Koom throughout January at writer@open-book.ca.