Nicole Markotić says she likely would have never been able to publish four books in one year had she not been such a good procrastinator.
The University of Windsor English professor published four books of different genres with four different publishers in the span of 12 months.
“I like to think that I hustle and work hard all the time, but it’s partly that I am just a bit of a dilettante and interested in everything,” Dr. Markotić said with a smile. “My procrastination feeds into my productivity in that avoiding one project I can always work on at least three others.”
The first book is a collection of essays she edited about Canadian novelist, poet and non-fiction writer Robert Kroetsch, published by Guernica Editions.
“(Kroetsch) is a fabulous writer who is not as well-known in Canada as he should be,” Markotić said. “He writes the strangest, most fabulous stuff: poetry, fiction and two books of critical essays and a bunch of weirdo non-fiction books.
“Even though he’s not that well-known in Canada, he’s beloved by writers and has had a lot of stuff written about him.”
Markotić said the acute adoration for Kroetsch by writers made the process of collecting essays about his work arduous.
“I had to read — and was delighted to do so — every single essay ever written about him and I am sure I failed,” Markotić said. “It was this really challenging role and overwhelming, but a really delightful one.”
She said one of the stand-out segments for her in Robert Kroetsch: Essays on His Works is an interview with Kroetsch at the University of Windsor.
“One of my colleagues brought him into her grad class and it’s the last interview he did before he died,” Markotić said. “I got to publish not only a fabulous interview but one that showed how he was as a teacher.”
Markotić’s second book is Disability in Film and Literature with McFarland publishing.
The collection of essays examines how people with disabilities are represented in literature, film and other forms of media.
“We often think of disability as either an illness or accident,” Markotić said. “Meanwhile, everyone will likely experience disability in one way or another, depending on how long they live.”
Markotić’s essays look at depictions of disability — both disparaging and amusing — and how they are often represented as aberrant or evil.
Her poetry collection Whelmed, published by Coach House Books, offers definitions to words “unhinged” from their prefixes.
“I’m very interested in language, so what I love about poetry is that you don’t have to write about, you can just play with language,” she said. “You reveal what words mean when you change up how we come to them, so that’s part of what interested me.”
Markotić said she was inspired to write the book while overhearing a conversation on the subway about how a person was underwhelmed by a movie they had seen.
In the book, she offers two definitions to the word whelm, one of them being: “whelping udders while trying to steady the helm. wearing the helpmeet’s helmet. while uttering hemmed-in vows. el em en (uh) oh. deuces trump by salute and by overtrouncing. wham”
Markotić is taking her first plunge into young adult fiction with the publishing of Rough Patch later this spring through Arsenal Pulp Press. The novel features Kiera, a shy teen entering her first year of high school, and her experience navigating her growing interest of kissing both girls and boys.
Markotić said she wanted to write a novel that strayed from the archetypal young adult genre where the protagonist has a problem neatly resolved by the end.
“There’s more and more queer-oriented stuff for young adults out there and it’s mostly about how you need to figure out if you’re gay and everyone else has to accept you,” Markotić said.
“What if you haven’t figured it out? What if you do want to like both? That’s what I wanted to write.”
With these four books finished, Markotić said she has already started on what she hopes to be her next young adult novel and a critical book on the representation of disability in children’s literature.