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Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: Megan Gail Coles

September 14, 2019

Megan Gail Coles is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland, National Theatre School of Canada and recently completed a Masters of Fine Arts from University of British Columbia. She has written numerous plays, and her first short fiction collection, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, won the BMO Winterset Award, the ReLit Award, the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award and earned her the Writers’ Trust 5×5 prize. Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club is her debut novel. Originally from Savage Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, Megan currently resides in Montreal where she is a PhD candidate at Concordia University.

What/who inspires you to write?

I am inspired by Newfoundland and her people. I am genuinely moved to write by all individuals who were not born into privilege but still forge relentlessly toward some store of happiness they’ve only ever imagined or seen on TV. I write for them. And for myself, to help propel us forward as a collective.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I prefer to write from home. It is a private, vulnerable and oft-times challenging undertaking. The subject matter I deal in does not lend itself to easy public crafting, and I read my lines aloud, which I suspect would annoy all civilized humans in a coffee shop. My most favoured place to write is my dining room table in Savage Cove. It is in our Coles family homestead, gifted to me by my relations, aunts, uncles and cousins, after Nanny died. I am full of love and courage when I write from the Great Northern Pen.

What are you reading now?

I am reading a lot of Ruth Levitas, Fredric Jameson, Ernst Bloch and the like for my Ph.D. Utopias class. I intend to get even smarter before returning home to wage intellectual warfare on individuals in positions of power who consistently undervalue the lives of everyone I hold dear. Besides, imagining the restructuring of society comes naturally to me. It’s totally my jam.

What inspired you to write your Scotiabank Giller Prize nominated book?

Inequality and abuse of power in all forms: personal, political and otherwise.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

The conditions we live under are unjust and unfit. The top news stories in NL right now consist of a $20 million car dealership expansion and a series of stabbings downtown. These two things are the same thing. Sure, one leans too heavily on privilege while the other is handed the full weight of pain, but you never mind that veneer. They belong to each other, they’re related, and we would do better to acknowledge that relationship now before things turn worse. Cause they can get a lot worse for everyone. Inequality, such as this, makes us all unsafe.

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