CBCBooks on  Twitter CBCBooks on Facebook

How I wrote it

Guillaume Morissette: How I wrote New Tab

Montreal writer Guillaume Morissette has two families to thank for teaching him English: The Simpsons and the Banks family (from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, that is). In 2010, the francophone writer decided to immerse himself even deeper in English, moving in with anglophone roommates. The result is his debut novel (written in English), New Tab.

In his own words, Guillaume reflects on writing in a second language, getting inspired by Facebook chats, and the real-life muse who should become a household name.

New Tab is semi-autobiographical. I used to work in video games, and I’m also francophone. Around 2010 I started experiencing dissatisfaction, angst and overall dismay in regards to what I was doing. I felt creatively that I wasn't very stimulated, so I switched to studying English literature at Concordia and I moved in to this household that had only anglophone roommates… I had access all of sudden to this entirely new playing field, and that felt really freeing. [Writing in English] was never a political thing; it was more of a pragmatic thing, like a convenient way for me to step into a new reality.

I would look at photos from a party I’d been to, on Facebook, and I would use what was happening in the photo in the book. I would stare at a poster in the background and I would use that as a description in one of the scenes. It's not like I had really good documentation from that period, but I did have access to stuff from Facebook—like Facebook chats—so I could use that as material for dialogue. I never felt tempted to rework it.

I'm very close to the Montreal writer, publisher and performer Ashley Opheim. We collaborate a lot… I feel like she influenced the internal energy of New Tab. Ashley and I have a yin and yang relationship where she's the very opposite of me. I'm more logical, and she's more into magic, nature and plants. I would frequently feel like “I'm never going to finish this, this is taking forever," but then I would have a conversation with her and that would allow me to refocus myself. 

To write something in French, I would have to immerse myself in the language a little bit more. At the same time I feel like I would have to find something that I can only express in French. It's almost the same as Yann Martel with The Life of Pi. He’s francophone, but he writes in English. If I ever found something that I felt comfortable expressing in French, then I would definitely consider it. 

These quotes are condensed from a longer interview. 

Guillaume Morissette is the author of the collection of stories & poems I Am My Own Betrayal (Maison Kasini, 2012) and the novel New Tab (Vehicule Press, 2014). His work has appeared in Maisonneuve magazine, HTMLGIANT, Carte-Blanche, Little Brother magazine, Metazen, Thought Catalog and many other publications.

Photo credit: Walter Wlodarczyk


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.

set count down final date: 06/02/2015
set count up final date: 05/02/2015
show ENTER NOW menu 0