The Hazlitt Offensive: Krista Foss

By Hazlitt

Our new, trademark pending, Hazlitt questionnaire.

Krista Foss is a journalist-turned-author who a finalist for the Journey Prize as well as long-listed for CBC’s Canada Writes. Her debut novel is Smoke River, which follows two families on a different side of a crisis through one fateful summer. She lives in Hamilton.

1.What are three words you associate with your first relationship?
Loafers. Freckles. Betrayal.

2. What’s the worst thing you ever did for money?
Wear tasteful pumps and jackets with shoulder pads.

3. What is your least favourite song?
“Barbie Girl” by Aqua.

4. What is your favourite song?
It’s a tie between “Revelator” by Gillian Welch and Radiohead’s “No Surprises” (for nostalgic reasons).

5. What’d you have for breakfast this morning?
Two cappuccinos, some leftover Easter chocolate, a handful of walnuts and kale. (Okay, I only thought about having some kale.)

6. How do you feel about Joni Mitchell?
I admire her songwriting, her cheekbones and her occasional bumptiousness.

7. How did you learn what sex was?
At age 11, I babysat for a British couple who were academics and the hippest people in our neighborhood. Their 5-year-old daughter had an anatomically specific and bluntly diagrammatic book about sex co-mingling with her titles from Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. I put the kid to bed early, opened a package of Fig Newtons, curled up in a bean bag chair with that book, and quickly realized everything I’d been told about sex up to that point was an outrageous lie.

8. Where do you imagine all our lost T-shirts go?
I read somewhere that the widespread wearing of underwear was as important a contributor to the spread of literacy in the West as the Gutenberg printing press. All those discarded dainties fuelled the rag trade which in turn created a cheap and plentiful source of cellulouse for paper-making. In a better world, I believe our lost T-shirts are in similar service to humanity—silently collected for an underground economy that’s re-purposing them into re-usable shopping totes or wind turbine blades.

9. Who do you consider the funniest person in the world—that we would know?
Those who understand the utter silliness of existence. The Dalai Llama’s giggle is out of control. I’m betting Pope Francis is a total cut-up when he loses the vestments.

10.What’s the worst insult you’ve ever said?
Like a lot of people, I’ve said many things I regret. My ur-insult was committed in Grade 1: I called a girl who lived a few doors away from me “fat.” That was the worst, because I said it for no other reason than to be hurtful. A few years later, I got a paper route and had to deliver to that girl’s house. Her daschund Seppe wouldn’t let me near the lawn without baring its teeth and diving for my ankles. A summer of terror ensued. I wish I could say it cured me of saying mean things. Instead, I developed a fear of daschunds.

11.What’s the worst thing you’ve ever been called?
Truthfully, it’s what doesn’t get said that’s the worst. Verbal slights and angry character dissections can’t match the harshness of a good, old damning silence.

12.What’s a deal breaker for someone you’re in a relationship or in love with?
Dietary orthodoxy. I’m all for healthy habits but extreme rigidity around eating smacks of joylessness to me. My boyfriend is straight edge: a teetoalling vegetarian. But he also has a sweet tooth, a caffeine addiction and a talent for cooking. Plus, he doesn’t mind me crawling into bed with occasional wine breath. So we’re going to be okay.

13.What’s something you do every night before bed?
I look out the old-fashioned dormer window beside my bed. On a good night my last thought will be about the moon, the stars, the curving shadow of the escarpment. On a bad night, I will wonder when I’m going to finally refinish the nearly 100-year-old window frames.