Scotibank Giller Prize Spotlight:
Paige Cooper

September 21, 2018

Paige Cooper was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains. Her stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead, West Branch, Michigan Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast Online, Canadian Notes & Queries, The New Quarterly, Minola Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and have been anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories and Best Canadian Stories. She lives in Montreal.

Paige’s story collection Zolitude is one of 12 books selected for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

What/who inspires you to write?

What: Uncertainty seems to be a necessary condition. Intellectual uncertainty is good, but maybe heuristic uncertainty is better for a story’s substratum.

Who: Frances Phillips. We’ve been exchanging writing for six years and she’s the only one who can make me sit down & work when I’m whining.

Where is your favourite place to write?

The train, but only when I get a seat in those cars where one side is a column of single seats, and you get to sit a foot higher than usual, and put your bag in that weird knife-shaped slot under the seat. I find that slot very satisfying. My least favourite place is my desk, because I spend too much time monitoring the hot couple across the street for signs of tension.

Is there an activity you do to help inspire your writing?

Note-taking. It seems like the only way to bloat an idea up into corporeality. Somehow the act of writing down notes opens up a greedy-minded phase where every detail of the world seems incandescently networked. For, like, a minute. Then you have to actually mortar the sentences, though, which is ugly.

What are you reading now?

I just picked up Tess Liem’s new book of poetry, OBITS., which is devastating.

What is your favourite CanLit read?

Marian Engel’s Bear, no contest. That book’s my soulmate.

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