Anthony De Sa has written two brilliant novels. Barnacle Love (Link to my review) and Kicking the Sky (Link to my review) have great descriptions to small details. And that is the beauty of De Sa himself. After reviewing those books, friends make comments like “My wife played Scrabble with him at a charity event” or “I took a tour of a Toronto neighbourhood with him” and his easy, simple nature is often noted. Last week at pub night, I forego my usual craft-beer order and went with a bottle of Molson Export. My bartender noted my change and I mention that I wanted to contemplate the logo of the sailing ship, like a immigrant-character did in one of De Sa’s book. The bartender looked at me and said he had often heard that immigrants and visitors remarked about their journeys to Canada while looking at that logo. De Sa recently took time out while on a trip to Tanzania to answer a few questions for me.
1) It has been a little while since Kicking the Sky has been released. How has the reaction been to it so far?
A: The reaction has been very positive. Critically, the novel received positive reviews, but it’s the response by readers that has been so rewarding to me as a writer.
2) Toronto has been an important setting for your books and stories. How do you like living there right now? Does it’s cultural scene provide you much inspiration for your writing?
A: Toronto is my home. My travels in the U.S.A to promote my American release of Kicking the Sky was a terrific experience, but it’s always good to come home. The cultural scene in the city is vibrant, but it is the neighbourhoods and the people in those neighbourhoods, that inspire me. Many have come from very far to make Toronto and Canada their home. This was certainly a big part of writing my first 2 books.
3) Who are your favourite writers? What are you reading right now?
A: Faulkner, Richler. I’m a big fan of Michael Crummey. It’s quite the variety. I was in the Dar Es Salaam airport a couple of days ago and picked up a copy of The White Masai by Corinne Hofmann. This book (I had never heard of it before) is a white European woman’s account of falling in love with a Masai in Kenya. She decides to marry him and this is her story. It is romantic, but it’s also a real piece of social anthropology.
4) Has your writing changed since you were first published? If yes, how so?
A: I don’t think it’s changed. My style has remained the same. But my editor might disagree.
5) You seem to be active on several of the social-media platforms right now (Twitter, Facebook) Does being there help your writing at all or is it more of a means to keep in touch with fans of your writing?
A: Social media has become an important part of marketing a book. That being said, for me, the most rewarding part of it is the play between industry people, readers, other writers and myself. It doesn’t help the writing. In fact, it could easily detract from the writing process because the sheer amount of time spent on websites, Facebook, Twitter, and blog contributions, takes me away from research and writing of my new book.
6) Do you do a lot of travelling? (I know you mentioned on FB that you are about to embark on a trip to Tanzania.) If yes, does travelling help your writing at all?
A: I’m currently answering these questions in my hotel room in Zanzibar. There are few perks in becoming a writer. I know it doesn’t seem that way to most people who are striving to get published, but it’s true. One of the best parts of being a writer is meeting with people who have read your books and travelling to places you never thought possible. It really is wonderful.