Cover of Our Lady of Perpetual Realness, Cason Sharpe’s début story collection. Metatron, 2017.
Interview by Kyla Jamieson
Get to Know is an interview series designed to introduce you to our favourite writers and contributors by way of questions that touch on quotidian details, childhood masterpieces, and advice for emerging artists. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Cason Sharpe, whose non-fiction piece, “One for the Faeries of Alexandra Park,” appears in our winter issue.
Cason Sharpe is a writer born and raised in Toronto and currently living in Montreal. His fiction and criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, C Magazine, and GUTS Canadian Feminist Magazine, among others. His first collection of short stories, Our Lady of Perpetual Realness, was released by Metatron, one of our favourite small presses, in 2017.
1. What’s happening around you—either right around you or outside of where you are?
It’s a Sunday and I’m in bed with my laptop. I’m listening to Lil Kim’s 1996 debut album Hard Core (a true classic). It’s freezing outside (minus 13 in Montreal according to the internet, but I’m not leaving my bed to confirm it).
2. Why do you live where you live?
I live in Montreal sort of by accident, in that I never intended to stay here this long. I like Montreal because it’s cheap but also appears glamorous from the outside, which is a difficult combination to find in a city these days.
3. What advice would you give an aspiring or emerging writer?
I’m new to this whole thing so I don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice, but what I often tell myself is: Be serious about your work but don’t take anything too seriously.
4. What’s your morning routine?
I’m not really a morning person. Most days I’ll snooze my alarm a million times until I’m scrambling to make it to work on time. I wake up, shower, do the internet rounds (Facebook, email, Instagram, Twitter). I’m trying to grow my hair out right now, so a lot of time in the morning these days is spent hairstyling, or looking for an appropriate hat. I usually grab a croissant and a coffee for breakfast from a cafe down the street from my apartment on the way to work.
5. What’s the first story or poem you remember writing, and how does it relate to your current work?
We had this class in elementary school called Writers’ Workshop, where the class would write and illustrate our own stories and then our teacher would laminate and spiral-bind them into little picture books. I went OFF in this class. I still have all my Writers’ Workshop books sitting in a closet at my mom’s place, maybe 20 in total. I wrote a story called “Simple Sarah Said a Lie,” and then the sequel, “Simple Sarah Didn’t Say a Lie.” They’re all funny, strange, a bit sad. I think it’s a sensibility that’s carried through into my current work.
6. Is there any advice you like ignoring?
“Write every day.” Like, don’t tell me what to do! I hate writing when I don’t feel any urgency to do so. Most days I have an impulse to write, even if it’s just a tweet or a phone note, but some days I’m not feeling it and that’s cool too.
7. Do you have a favourite word? Or a least favourite word? What is it and why do you like/dislike it?
I like ubiquitous words—“like,” “really,” “just,” “thing,” “stuff” etc.—words you use all the time without realizing it. They’re like little weeds—they end up punctuating speech whether you like it or not.
8. Do you have any “vices”? What’s the relationship between your vices and your writing?
I’m a smoker, which I’m not particularly proud of. Smoking seems cute when you’re like 20 but after a few years your teeth are stained and all your clothes smell like shit. I don’t have a tight thesis on this, but there’s some interplay between vice/shame that I like to explore in my writing. A lot of my work, both fiction and non-fiction, feels like a method of shame-management. I think it’s a queer thing.