Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Scaachi Koul on what to do if you liked a book by a garbage human

The author of One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Scaachi Koul is the author of One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter. (Barbora Simkova)

With clear-eyed concision and humour, Scaachi Koul calls out casual sexism and racism in Canada in her debut One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

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

1. Eden Robinson asks, "What is your first childhood memory?"

A woman at our local temple grabbing my wrist and chastising me after I spilled a tin glass of water on her sari. If I recall correctly, she was about 700 years old and she wanted to eat my face.

2. Helen Humphreys asks, "If you write in a room with a window, what is the view out of that window?"

I write in the dark with the blinds drawn, because writing is a sinful, nasty habit — namely, nonfiction writing — and should not be seen by the people in your neighbourhood.

3. Pasha Malla asks, "Please quote one egregiously stupid criticism — either specific or general — of your writing, and address, refute or mock it."

My writing isn't criticised as much as my personality is; it's a lot easier for people to attack me or my face or my body or my integrity than it is to go after how I write or the ideas I espouse. Some people just say my writing is "bad," which is as flaccid as criticisms go, others tell me that my tone is too aggressive, making it too challenging to read my pieces. What a gentle soul you must be, that you have to close yourself off because a woman's tone stresses you out. How do you go outside?!

4. Jane Urquhart asks, "How interested are you in fashion?"

I own an iron?

5. Charlotte Gill asks, "If you could ghostwrite the biography of a famous person, alive or dead, who would you choose?"

My own, so I can have full control over the narrative and lie about my very limited skills. "Scaachi Koul was known for her sway over wild birds and her surprisingly sharp canine teeth."

6. Marina Endicott asks, "Can you love a book written by a lousy human being?"

Sure, but maybe it's not a great idea to tell other people about this great book by some garbage person and it might say plenty about what kind of person you are.

7. Shyam Selvadurai asks, "What is the hardest thing about being a writer?"


8. Vincent Lam asks, "What is your favourite editorial stage, and your favourite type of editorial conversation?"

The end? I like the end because then it is the end. The best type of editorial conversation is one that happens because of wine. Not over wine; specifically because of wine. Write drunk, edit sober is fine enough, but conceive drunk and wake up groggy with a good idea is even better.