My life in books: Sheena Kamal

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What is your favourite book and why?
Recently I’ve been finding a lot of comfort in Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Not only are her essays honest and witty, but they also come from a place of deep vulnerability. She forces her readers to confront the darkness in the world, in a way that gives you hope. It’s a strange alchemy.

What’s the book, if any, that you wished you’d written?
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. It’s a masterpiece. She tells you what is going to happen at the beginning of the book, then makes you care so much that when it does happen you are absolutely devastated. Its evil brilliance still guts me to this day.

Who’s your favourite author?
I like Helen Oyeyemi a lot. Her imagination is incredible and although it’s quite easy to get lost in her prose, sometimes these beautiful, cutting insights will come at me when I least expect it. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours excited me in a way that I haven’t been for a long time.

What’s a typical writing day like?
I write in the morning, edit in the afternoon and read in the evening. Mostly.

Physical book, Kindle or both?
Both. Physical books are wonderful, but heavy. I’m not sure what my internal algorithm is yet when it comes to which I like in physical form and which I prefer on a screen, but I do both. Sometimes simultaneously.

What’s your favourite bookshop?
Pulpfiction Books in Vancouver. I’ve just started going there and love that they sell both new and used books. They’re also very supportive of local authors.

Where’s your favourite library?
The Vancouver Public Library is incredible, but my favourite library is a tiny one in Ucluelet, British Columbia. I started writing Eyes Like Mine there and oftentimes I would look up and there would be deer outside of the window. And if that wasn’t enough, just past the library is the Pacific Ocean. e library is in a tiny corner of a magical place in the world.

Would you recommend readers start writing? What’s the easiest way to start?
Sure, if they’d like to be writers. The easiest way to start is to sit and write. If there’s some other formula to it, I would love to know what it is!

Is plot more important than character for you?
I think they’re equally important. Doesn’t matter what the plot is if I’m not interested in the character. The flip side of this is true, also. On the writing side of things character comes easier to me than plot, but once I invest in a character I have a good sense of how that person will react in any given circumstance.

How much would you tend to write per day?
Depends on the day. I don’t do word counts. I write until I feel empty and then I do something else for a while—until my imagination fills up again.

Are you/were you in a bookclub?
I wish! I lack the necessary sense of commitment to participate in a book club. If I did join one, it would be sci/fi or fantasy, because I what I love about those genres is that they’re about ideas and different worldviews. at might be fun to discuss – and to see the parallels to our own world.

Favourite snacky treat/drink when reading?
Wine. Ice-cream.

Where’s your favourite place to read?
I’ll read anywhere, really. I always have a book on me just in case a good reading moment presents itself. But I mostly love to read in bed.

Do you enjoy the editing process?
Nope. Not one bit. But maybe it gets easier as time goes by?


Eyes Like Mine (Zaffre, €15.99) is out now