The Nose Forgets Nothing

For Christmas this year, I received a masala dabba from my wife. Masala means spice, I think, and dabba means box–in what language, I’m not sure. I like to imagine that every Indian household has one of these, the way every North American one has salt and...

Living With Horror

We don’t watch television in the Kowalski household, and haven’t for several years. This was a decision we made when our first child was born in 2003. We didn’t want our kids exposed to commercials, and we wanted them to spend more time actively...
Why I Write Two Kinds Of Books

Why I Write Two Kinds Of Books

In 2009, my agent approached me with an unusual offer. Bob Tyrell, founder and president of Orca Publishers in Vancouver, had come up with a new publishing model: he wanted to contract with established authors of mainstream fiction to write books for people who, for...

Writing Sheds and Why We Love Them

Maybe the topic of writing sheds has always been a popular one, and I just never noticed before. Or maybe it’s become a symbol of all that we’ve lost in our culture, in terms of quiet, solitude, and contemplation. (Seriously, I don’t know anyone who...

Crosswords and Coin Collecting

This picture was taken in 1983, on Grandparent’s Day at Erie Day School in Erie, PA. I’m in 8th grade, and I’m sitting in front of some variant of an Apple, probably a IIe. I’m flanked by Harold Siepel (on the left) and William Kowalski Sr., my...