Phillip Ernest is a Canadian writer with an extraordinary personal history, as even the briefest version of his bio suggests: Born in 1970, Phillip Ernest grew up in New Liskeard, Ontario. Fleeing home at fifteen, he lived on Toronto’s skid row until he was twenty-eight. He learned Sanskrit from the book Teach Yourself Sanskrit, and later earned a BA in South Asian Studies from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Sanskrit from Cambridge University. The Vetala (LLP, 2018) is his first novel. This is Part I of a two-part interview. Part II is here.