Scotiabank Giller Prize Spotlight: Thomas King

September 29, 2020

Thomas King’s novel, Indians on Vacation has been longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Thomas King is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter and photographer. His critically acclaimed, bestselling fiction includes Medicine River; Green Grass, Running Water; One Good Story, That One; Truth and Bright Water; A Short History of Indians in Canada; The Back of the Turtle (winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction); The Inconvenient Indian (winner of the RBC Taylor Prize); the DreadfulWater mystery series, including most recently Obsidian; and the poetry collection 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin. A Member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Thomas King lives in Guelph, Ontario.

What/who inspires you to write?

I suppose that my partner Helen Hoy is my main inspiration to write. She’s a painter and the two of us tend to encourage each other. And she’s my first reader and I’m always trying to impress her with my skill.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I don’t have a favourite place to write. I’ve written in coffee shops, in motel rooms, in my office, in bed. I write wherever and whenever I feel like it. Except for coffee shops, the only thing I need is complete silence. I don’t listen to music, I don’t sing to myself, I don’t watch tv. Dead silence. That’s the key for me. For some reason, in coffee shops, I’m able to tune out the noise completely.

Do you have a tradition for every time you finish a book?

The only tradition that I have for the completion of a book is to begin another.

What are you reading now?

I generally don’t read when I’m writing and as I’ve gotten older and my writing time has become limited, my reading time has dropped to almost nothing.

What would your job be if you weren’t an author?

I suppose it I couldn’t write, I would fall back to photography. But I see no reason why I can’t do both.

Is there a book that you find yourself reading over and over again?

I don’t read books over again. I think about it from time to time, but once I read a book, I don’t go back to it again.

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

Indians On Vacation was the product of a series of trips that Helen and I took to Europe. These travels didn’t inspire the book so much as they gave it its setting.

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I’ve never thought about what I want readers to take away from a book of mine. Once you turn a book loose in the world, you have no control over it. Readers will do with it what they want, and no amount of advice on my part will change that.

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