Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Natalie Zina Walschots

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Natalie Zina Walschots is a music writer, poet and editor based in Toronto, Ontario. Once a scholarly, bookish young woman, she now spends the majority of her time permanently damaging her liver and her hearing at heavy metal shows. She writes for a number of publications, both in print and online, including Toronto Standard, NOW Magazine, Hellbound, About Heavy Metal, Angry Metal Guy, Gameranx, Game Dynamo, Torontoist and Exclaim!. Natalie currently serves as the Managing Editor of Canada Arts Connect, and her weekly column about feminism and aggressive music, "Girls Don't Like Metal," is hosted on Canada Arts Connect Magazine. She is also the Reviews Editor of This Magazine, and her biweekly column on individual songs from recent Canadian metal albums, "One Track Mind," appears on the This Magazine website.

Natalie's second book of poetry, DOOM: Love Poems For Supervillains, was published by Insomniac Press in the Spring of 2012. Her first book, Thumbscrews, won the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and was published by Snare Books in the Fall of 2007. Her poetry has recently been featured in Joyland, Matrix, dead (g)end(er), Carousel and broken pencil. Natalie earned her MA in English Literature and Creative writing from the University of Calgary. She writes about comic books, video games, combat sports, gastroporn, sadomasochism, feminism and difficult music.

Visit Natalie's website,
Follow Natalie on Twitter at @NatalieZed

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Natalie Zina Walschots

Natalie Zina Walschots is Open Book's February 2013 Writer in Residence. In her answer to the Proust Questionnaire, Natalie tells us her dream of happiness, her chief characteristic and more.

The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.


What is your dream of happiness? A day that is cool and sunny, a lonely beach, a mug of tea, a soft sweater, something to write on, nowhere to be.

DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains

By Natalie Zina Walschots

From the publisher:

DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains is an edgy and erotic investigation of comic book evildoers.

These poems employ a language that is highly technical and dense, but it becomes witty, intimate and even tender in its specificity. DOOM addresses the results of abuses of power and presents a case study on the pathology of villainy.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Storybook Confidential - A Big Benefit for Small Print Toronto


Monday, September 16, 2013 - 7:30pm


Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON
M6J 1J6


Toronto’s vibrant literary, art and indie rock worlds will come together at Storybook Confidential, a night for grownups in support of Small Print Toronto’s interactive literary programs for children, taking place on Monday, September 16th at The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St West), 7:30pm (Doors 7pm). All Tickets Pay-What-You-Can (at Door Only).

Local literary luminaries – including Kyle Buckley, Claire Caldwell, Stacey May Fowles, James Grainger, Evan Munday, Grace O’Connell, Damian Rogers, Kevin Sylvester, Ania Szabo, Natalie Zina Walschots, Jessica Westhead, Nathan Whitlock and Liz Worth – will read stories they wrote when they were kids.


Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M6J 1J6 43° 38' 33.216" N, 79° 25' 37.6212" W

A Public Life

This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking to an English class at Ryerson, led my instructor Sarah Henstra. The course was about writing about the arts, an attempt to present becoming a (freelance) writer and critic as a viable career option. I jokingly titled my talk, "How You Too Can Work At Home In Your Underpants Covered In Cheeto Dust." 


I've always had an addictive personality -- not for substances, but activities and subjects. When I was a kid, I watched my classmates drift through interests, picking things up and putting them down again. They'd be enrolled in multiple sports at once, quitting and starting new things constantly as they and their parents searched for something that would stick. Kids around me had phases, periods of intense interest that they would soon shed.

First Blush

I started writing a novel this weekend. Even typing that sentence is enough to make me feel both giddy and utterly terrified.

I'd been nursing the idea for a while, at first just a word that gradually grew into a baby universe. For a long time, I was almost ashamed of the idea. Anything that you really love is always faintly embarrassing, because it reveals so much about you and what you care about. As time passed, even if I was a little shy to share it, the pressure of the idea, the solidity and realness of it, kept tugging at me.

Talking It Out

Neil Gaiman wrote a fantastic post once about asnwering the question "Where do you get your ideas?" In particular, he talks about the resistance that is often offered to the only real answer he can give: "'I make them up,' I tell them. 'Out of my head.'" He has some great ideas about fielding these sorts of questions, but my absolute favourite part of the post is the bit where he addresses the problem of people approaching him, as a writer, and offering to share their Great Idea with them.

Becoming Nocturnal

I've had a lot of jobs in my life. Many of them have been great, and a few of them have been hilariously terrible. I've been a bank teller, a research assistant, a copy centre employee a/k/a xerox whisperer, the managing editor of two literary magazines, a cheesemonger, the events coordinator for an incredible bookstore, a high school english teacher, a writer in residence in a Catholic school, and a copy writer for a porn company. I've worked in office environments, classrooms, refrigerators and outdoors. I've had bosses who were wonderful and bosses I was convinced kept a chest freezer stuffed full of torsos in their apartment. I've had co-workers who would be my lifelong friends and one who I detested so much that I once hid her phone in a pumpkin.

Growing Wings, and Penance

In my latest collection of poetry, DOOM, I include a poem about Penance. Penance is not, really a villain, or at least not a long term villain. The characters civilian name is Robbie Baldwin, and for most of his career he is known as Speedball. His powers are based in kinetic energy, and so the more energy he absorbs, the more powerful (and potentially destructive) those powers become. He's a middling hero, involved with the New Warriors, and then suddenly find himself playing a pivotal role in the Civil War storyline, one of the major shakeups in the Marvel Universe.

Robots vs. Bleeders

I am wrapping up an interview with an artist; it has gone to some unexpected places. My subject intended to be very reserved in his answers, but instead opened the floodgates. I asked very few questions, mostly listened, only offered a few guiding statements. The torrent of words that spilled out of his was unfiltered, thick and vital as arterial blood. I could barely keep up, only offer my repeated thanks at his being so candid, so honest with his statement.

A Clumsy Thing About Love

I'm reading tonight at Q-Space, with Jeanette Lynes and Open Book Toronto's very own Grace O'Connell. There's a Facebook event if you want to see what it's all about, and perhaps come. When I was asked to read on Valentine's Day, I said yes immediately, without a moment's hesitation. It honestly didn't occur to me that my partner might have something to say about that until he started teasing me for not having a single romantic bone in my body.

He's right, of course. I joke about having a dried up little apple core for a heart, like the Grinch. I forget about markers and gestures. I know only very vaguely when our anniversary is (summer, right?). I joke that I don't like things that make me experience feelings.

On Plagiarism

I plagiarized a creative paper in the tenth grade.

Writing that sentence literally gave me anxiety hives, itching red welts on my legs and crawling up my armpits. Admitting that, when I was fourteen years old, I copied several paragraphs, verbatim, and submitted them for an assignment as my own, makes me want to shrivel up with shame. It was a *creative* paper to, something that I could have just made up and gotten a fine mark on, but the truth of the matter is I couldn't be arsed to come up with anything. So I grabbed a few monologues from comic books I was reading at the time, tied them together with a few ugly sentences, slapped my name on it and called it a day.

Self Care

My partner made me watch Warrior last night. It's an excellent film, well-acted and intelligently written. There is a lot about it that I should like, primarily the fact that it contains Tom Hardy looking like a chiseled god and represents Mixed Martial Arts in a far more realistic and less sensationalist way than I have ever seen on film before. It is, however, a drama, and a deep one, about the rift between two brothers, the damage al alcoholic father has sone to his family, one son's desire to save his own family from financial ruin and a damaged man's broken quest for healing.

Snow Day

Today, I am taking a snow day. I tried, unsuccessfully, for two hours to get to the Mod Club to see heavy metal legend Doro perform last night, but after a complete travel disaster caused by dangerous road conditions and a bomb threat at Dundas Station, I gave up and went home. Outside, the snow is still coming down. My partner has shovelled the walk three times this morning. Every time we take the puppy out to pee, she looks at us like we're complete crazy to make her go outside when we have a perfectly serviceable tile floor in the kitchen.

I started off treating this day like an ordinary work day -- after all, for freelancers, weather means very little. I attended a Skype meeting, dutifully dealt with my email, I planned out the rest of my day.

Wide Open Space

In the late spring of 2009, I lost my job. It was a planned loss, a foreseen loss: I was working full-time at a very expensive private school in Yorkville, and I did not have any classes for the Spring semester (May and June). I would teach a five-week workshop in July and August, and then return to work full-time in September.

Writing Vs. Being A Writer

This morning, thanks to a tweet by a good friend and colleague, I was introduced to the blog of Éireann Lorsung. Specifically, I was lead to a recent post of hers entitled "On plagiarism, or, writing as an end, not a means." She says a lot of very smart and articulate things about plagiarism, especially in relation to Christian Ward scandal (wherein Ward submitted a poem that was not his to a contest, won, and was subsequently found out). I want to write a whole post about ideas that I have about plagiarism, and several recent high-profile cases that have come up including Ward, but that is still percolating in my brain and may end up being a future post here.

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

As someone who spends a good part of their life and career on the internet, I have a sneering, love-hate relationship with memes. Many of them are misused and go off the rails, but a good one can be golden. One of the memes that cracks me up every single time, no matter how poorly it is deployed or what the context might be, is the image of a dog doing a science experiment with the caption: "I have no idea what I am doing."

I gigglesnort every single time I see it. And, the more I think about it, the reason that I think this picture is so hilarious is that I am recognizing myself in the image. I am the dog doing science. I have no idea what I'm doing.

Writer's Block Doesn't Exist

I really didn't expect to be writing about writer's block for my very first blog entry as the Open Book TO Writer-in-Residence, but it's something that I've been thinking about a lot this week. I'm coming off a few ridiculously terrible writing days; plus, this is my space for the next four weeks, and I'mma do what I want.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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