Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Rachel Cusk on honouring the strangeness of living

The Giller Prize finalist answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Rachel Cusk is the author of novels Outline, Transit and Kudos. (Siemon Scammel-Katz)

Rachel Cusk's novel Outline was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award in 2015. The Canadian-born, U.K.-based author is now following up that success with Transit, a novel that continues the story of Outline's central character. 

Transit is on the shortlist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Below, Rachel Cusk answers eight questions submitted by eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A. 

1. Bill Richardson asks, "If you were to see someone reading your book in a public place — a plane, a café — would you introduce yourself?"

Certainly not! I'd be terrified if someone did that to me.

2. Shani Mootoo asks, "What was the best surprise you had in the process of writing your latest published book?"

Finding that the mechanism of the book, which involved some risks and experimentation, worked.

3. Alexi Zentner asks, "Would you want your kids to be writers?"

I wouldn't want them to feel obliged to be.

4. Zsuzsi Gartner asks, "Have you ever written a sentence you think could save lives?"

I'm not sure I'd know whether I had or not. But I've certainly been saved by some writers' sentences. 

5. George Bowering asks, "Whose books have you imitated during your writing life?"

I went through a long phase in my 20s of trying to be Henry James. Trying to be D.H. Lawrence in my 30s was much more fun.

6. Jane Urquhart asks, "Could you write a novel about two square meters of outdoor space (urban, rural, or wilderness)?"

I think so. I imagine much the same rules apply.

7. Lorna Crozier asks, "How did growing up with (or without) siblings affect your writing or your desire to be a writer?"

I'm one of four children. Establishing my version was a pretty compelling business.

8. Heather O'Neill asks, "What's the strangest thing you've done while researching a book?" 

My books aren't really research-based. But I do try to honour the strangeness of living.