Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Beyond writing with Iain Reid

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Iain Reid

Kingston-based author Iain Reid spoke to Open Book about his love of cooking, basketball and being a private memoirist. Iain is the author of One Bird's Choice (Anansi) and the forthcoming book, The Truth About Luck (Anansi).

Iain Reid isn’t the type of writer you’d peg as being a reality TV junkie. For the most part he’s not, except when it involves a kitchen.

Unlike most self-taught cooks, he doesn’t credit Julia Child’s Mastering the art of French Cooking for teaching him how to boil an egg. Instead, shows like Top Chef - now in its ninth season – are responsible for his interest in the culinary arts.

“I think I started because of the influx of food shows and the kind of culture of watching people eat and prepare food,” he said.

Iain took his interest beyond television and started following cooking blogs with intriguing recipes. From there, he started to form his own cooking philosophy.

“My personal take on it is not to follow recipes too closely, but to get ideas. And then you can kind of allow yourself to play with it,” he said. “It makes you feel like you’re better than you are. If it says put lime juice in and you put lemon, you feel like you’re brilliant.”

Even though Iain is quite dedicated to exploring his culinary creativity, he’s deeply devoted to his daily, ritualistic feast – Mini-Wheats.

“How can you argue it’s not the best cereal? It’s absurd,” he said. “There’s so many good cereals, but Mini-Wheats is just better than any other cereal. It’s just a cut above.”

Iain is quite loyal to the eight layers of whole grain fiber and considers himself a bit of a “purist.” He doesn’t settle for no-name knockoffs or the kind infused with fruity flavours. He’ll get the brown sugar blend – but doesn’t make a habit of it.

“That’s as far as I will veer off the Mini-Wheat path,” he said.

Much like Mini-Wheats, basketball is a large part of his life. He started when he was six years old and played at the university level when he was studying English, history and philosophy at Queen’s.

He enjoys cooking for the same reason he enjoys basketball; it’s an activity that puts his mind on “cruise.”

“Basketball helps even more because you’re focusing on that game that you’re playing. Things are happening in your mind that you’re kind of working through.”

Now that he’s 30, his competitive edge has taken a backseat and he plays it recreationally. He’s also a consumer of college and professional basketball, viewing it as a great spectator sport.

“The athletes are so ridiculous. They’re so massive and impressive,” he said, referencing LeBron James who is 6’8 and about 250lbs. “He’s the most agile human we all know. It’s absurd. Like you can just watch him run around and it would be impressive.”

His zest for sports has him flirting with the idea of writing sports analysis. In January, he wrote a piece for The Classical about diggerball, a sport he helped create in high school. It’s a blend between full-contact ice hockey and soccer.

He has a series of articles in the National Post, each garnished with his signature sense of humour, illuminating the life of a novice memoirist. And in Kingston Life magazine, he’s reviving the lost art of letter writing.

“I do kind of write the old form of letters. I get the notion, sometimes, to write a letter to people and so, the idea was then that they would publish some of them,” he said.

The next letter will be published in March.

Iain’s second memoir, The Truth About Luck (Anansi), is to be released in the spring of 2013. It’s about a trip Iain took in Ontario mixed with flashbacks.

“That’s my kind of trip,” he said. “I’m not a very adventurous person.”

Even though Iain’s writing is based on his life experiences, he sees himself as a very private person.

“If I’m going to write about myself, which ends up happening a lot, I just try to be honest about things,” he said. “Things about myself that make me laugh. I assume, might make others laugh. If I think I do something that’s ridiculous, or bizarre, then I will probably include it. It’s interesting because I think that I’m pretty private. It’s a weird paradox to be someone who ends up writing about their own life a lot, but I do feel very private, that I don’t share a lot.”

To keep up with Iain Reid, you can follow his Tweeter feed here.


Ashliegh Gehl is a freelance writer and multimedia journalist.

She has written for the Montreal Gazette, Quill & Quire, OurKingston.ca, Northumberland Today and The Intelligencer newspapers.

Between countless cups of oolong tea, Ashliegh has been busy working on two books. Visit her website for more information.