Interview with Jesse Thistle

3 min read

Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He is an Assistant Professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto, where he lives. He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Scholar and a Vanier Scholar. Visit him at www.jessethistle.com

Girly Book Club: How did you get into writing and what inspired you to write your first book?

Jesse Thistle: I got into writing by sending love poems to Lucie when I was in minimum security rehab. I actually re-learned how to read and write this way. The poems are the oldest parts of the book and the one love poem I wrote with one hand in a cast so it took me a long time to write her those love poems. At first I sent them because, as a guy who was in jail for a bit, I was after one thing. Yes, the same thing you’re probably thinking (but it grew into something more).

GBC: What makes a book great, in your opinion? What elements does a great story possess?

JT: What makes a book great is pacing and story. You need a good story with lots of tension but you have to write it in a way that keeps the reader gliding through or else they get caught up in the gymnastics of pretentious or boring writing. Bukowski said it best, “we live in the atomic age, the writing should be bim, bim, bim – face paced. Each line must have a delicious juice, a flavour. No words are to be wasted.” Watch the link of Bukowski trashed off his face and you can see what I am referring to. That’s one of the reasons the writing in FTA was breakneck and all the chapters were short. Pace is king.

GBC: What are you doing if you’re not writing?

JT: I am an assistant professor in Metis Studies at York University in Toronto. I am a proud cat dad of my hairy daughter Poppy. I am a loving husband to my Lucieputz. and I am going to be a father in December – we used the earnings of the book to do IVF and bring a life into this world! So all you readers helped my daughter come to us from the spirit plain! Thank you!!!

GBC: Name your favourite bookshop in the world.

JT: Physical all the way. And twice on Sundays. I am literally going blind reading online, as many others are too. Maybe I am just getting grandpa age, but holding a text in my paws is the only way to go.

GBC: Physical book, e-book, or audiobook? – and why.

JT: I couldn’t really read as a kid. I am not sure how to answer this. I didn’t learn to read and write properly until I was 32 like my book depicts. It’s also why the writing in FTA is so raw and rough; I’m not really an author.

GBC: What was your favourite book as a child?

JT: I would recommend Katerena Vermette’s new book: The Strangers. She is the best Indigenous author from Canada in my opinion.

GBC: We’re always on the hunt for our next great read. Recommend us a book to add to our TBR pile!

JT: There’s a really cool documentary about Napoleon from the early 1990s I am into right now. Production is shitty. Writing is shitty. Screen is square with the black sides. But it’s one of those old school docs that A&E used to play before it turned into the murder-death-picker-hoarder channel. I miss that A&E so I watch this crappy doc. Nostalgia is a mofo sometimes.

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