From all of us here at TIFA: Happy New Year! To commemorate 2019, we sat with TIFA Director Geoffrey E. Taylor for a quick interview about the past, present and future of the Toronto International Festival of Authors. If starting a new year is anything like starting a new book, consider this a very special foreword from the man behind the curtains.
Michael Mirolla discusses writers who’ve influenced him and why he enjoys writing short stories in our Five Questions series. Mirolla will be launching his new short story collection, The Photographer in Search of Death, on Tuesday, January 30th at 6:30 pm with fellow Exile Editions author Martha Bátiz (Plaza Requiem).
IFOA: In a recent interview with Christine Cowley, you referred to the collection as speculative fiction. Tell us a bit about how The Photographer In Search of Death fits the description?
Michael Mirolla: I see “speculative fiction” as a description that encompasses a number of fictions (magical realism, surrealism, meta-fiction, science fiction). What they have in common is the idea that they are creating worlds rather than simply inhabiting them. Thus we get “what ifs” rather than “whats”.
They are also fictions of ideas rather than simply interactions between humans. To me, the best of these are those that can combine ideas with human interactions. That is, thoughts with a heart. I hope that, in a small way, The Photographer works towards achieving that aim and thus can fit under the speculative fiction umbrella.
We asked Spencer Gordon five questions about what inspired Cruise Missile Liberals and what he’s been reading. Gordon’s new book of poetry will be launched through Toronto Lit Up on Thursday, November 9th and it’s free to attend!
IFOA: Cruise Missile Liberals has been described as turning exhaustion and “the rant” into art. What led to the creation of the collection? What was the spark?
Spencer Gordon: Ian Williams supplied that original quotation, by the way! All hail Ian.
Since this is a first collection, the spark must be traced back to my earliest, most disturbing doodles and incoherent attempts at communication—all as a fancy little boy who just wanted a dang treat! But the literal spark for this book, this physical artifact you’re obviously holding in your hands, caressing, was Amber McMillan, who works for Nightwood Editions, and who asked me if I had a full-length manuscript. To my shock, I did.