C/O Pasha Malla

The Silhouette: Please introduce yourself. 

Pasha Malla: My name is Pasha Malla. I’m the 2021-2022 Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer in Residence. I’m also teaching a class in [the arts and science department], a special inquiry class on speculative fiction.  

What is your role as the Writer in Residence?  

I’m available to the McMaster community and the broader Hamilton community via the Hamilton Public Library for manuscript consultations, which means that people send me excerpts of their work, poetry or prose and I read them and give them some feedback. Then we have a meeting on Zoom and have a little conversation about it. That’s part of it. The other half of the program is various workshops and talks. Tonight, I have a workshop on suspense and urgency that I’m posting on Zoom. I’m doing the art of writing workshops through the Hamilton Public Library and business writing workshops through [McMaster University].  

How have your meetings been so far?  

I’ve been having the best time. Because the program includes people outside the [McMaster] community, regular old folks from wherever can join as long as they’re affiliated with Hamilton in some way. It’s been a really nice and diverse group of people and quite a nice variety of kinds of writing that folks are doing. It’s been really encouraging and inspiring and kind of fun to read for people and have conversations with folks who are at various stages in their writing. I’m working with some published writers and some new writers. It has been really enjoyable in all kinds of ways.  

What inspires you to write?  

Lots of different things. Writing has been a nice place to just experience a little bit of joy. I’ve been working on this project that just makes me laugh and I have fun working on. Each project has its own goals and intentions or whatever else and results.

Lately, writing for me, it’s been a nice little diversion and a place that I go for laughs. I make myself laugh, which is kind of weird, but nice when you can make it happen.  

Do you mind elaborating on the project?  

It’s actually a sequel to the last novel I had out which is called Kill The Mall. It’s an absurdist story with supernatural elements. This is a sequel to that, it’s actually the second book in what I think is probably going to be a trilogy and I’m going to finish it before reading week, probably.  

Are there any people or another writer who inspires you in writing?  

There are so many writers whose work I read who are just so far beyond what I’m doing. I find that trying to achieve things that other writers are doing is motivating. Most recently, I’ve been reading a writer from Argentina whose name is Juan José Saer. I’m just blown away by this guy’s genius. Reading something like that makes me, as a writer, try to pick it apart and see how he’s doing what he’s doing. So yeah, I get inspired by reading a lot.  

Have you encountered any challenges in your own writing or within the Writers in Residence program?  

No, this program has been terrific. That’s a testament to how great the people who are sending their work in, who I’ve been meeting with and [who] have been attending these workshops with [all] are. That’s the reason why I did it. If there’s any challenge, it’s just seeing each piece to try to figure out what the writer is trying to do and then doing my best to help them get there. Giving different suggestions and feedback that will be, I hope, encouraging and motivating but at the same time rigorous constructive criticism.  

Is there anything you would like to say to aspiring writers?  

Go into engineering school so you can get a job. No, I’m just being facetious. I think there’s all kinds of generic advice already. You know, you should read, you should write. For me, I think being a curious person in the world is the most important thing. To ask questions, to speculate, to wonder. To tap into that thing we all had when we were kids where there’s so much imagination and possibility is a large part of who you are and how you engage with the world. I think that is more important than figuring out the craft. Really being curious, engaging in curiosity about other people, about places, about experiences, about yourself.

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