Regina, Treaty 4: Rolli
(Photo by Aidan Morgan, Intro by Darryl Schmidt)
I met Rolli through a mutual friend, though I’d seen him at a local coffeehouse quite a few times—a moody-looking guy downing coffee like water and pounding away on a laptop. Since then, I’ve hardly ever seen him without a coffee cup, or when he isn’t working on something. He lives and breathes creativity.Whether it’s a story, poem or drawing, his style is instantly recognizable and memorable, which can be said for all too few people, these days. He’s so prolific, too, that I’m still not sure when he finds the time to sleep (though with all that coffee, it’s possible he doesn’t). He’s strange and funny and kind and a one-of-a-kind original. He’s Rolli.
KC: Do you like cats? If so, why? If not, why not?
Yes! I’m a crazed, cat-natured person, and prefer my own kind.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
Well, there’s The Walrus Project—or there was. The Walrus hired me to write a short story and draw a cartoon every week for their website, for one year. I started last October. But they told me to scram last week, without explanation. Not sure what’s going on over there. But I’m proud of the work I did.
There’s also Take Rolli to Work Day. I go to work with people and see what their day-to-day life is like, what makes them tick. It’s great. I usually get free coffee. Busy, too, spreading the word about my new middle grade novel, Kabungo, about a cavegirl who lives on Main Street. Groundwood published that in April. They’re great.
KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
My day job is being creative. Lots of freelancing. Writing, illustrations, tons of cartoons. It’s fun. It’s terrifying.
KC: What’s important to you?
Good, strong, hot coffee.
KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?
Most: the Cathedral district, where I live. You can’t walk ten steps without meeting someone interesting. There’s a lot of barefoot people. Artisans. Drunks.
Least: if there’s a writing community of any kind in Regina, it’s doing a super job of hiding. There’s a handful of writers but no community. They’re not too friendly here. A writer attacked me in the park, once.
KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?
I’ve met tons of friendly writers from Saskatoon! There’s a sense of community there. It’s great to see, even from a distance. They have a great indie bookstore there, McNally Robinson. There’s nothing like that in Regina.
KC: How do you survive the winters?
I just stay in my coffee cup until the snow melts.
KC: (From the Proust Questionnaire) What is it that you most dislike?