Sarah Mian, who dolls out tough love to me every time we’re together, and then smothers me in love after, just the way I like it, invited me to be a stop on a writing blog tour. You can see Sarah’s typically ballsy, take-no-prisoners, yet somehow sweet answers here, then come back for mine!
What am I working on?
I am very carefully, and very slowly, working on a new project. Okay, fine, it’s a novel. Are you happy now? It’s a novel. It’s shaping up to be about faith, religion, sex, the body, feminism and death. So, in short, fun times! It seems crazy to even say that much about it at this very early in the game point. To be honest, I am still recovering from having written Fallsy Downsies in such a rush last spring. Or maybe that’s an excuse I’ve been using for not being further along in the new project-novel-thing.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I am strongly motivated to write in a way that reflects where I live, right now. When I was growing up, devouring stories, I never ever read or saw one that was set in my own place, in my own time. I literally thought stories only happened in New York City, English country gardens, or on the Great Plains. I’m not saying the wilds of Mississauga, Ontario were ripe for storytelling, but I do know how electrifying it was when I heard this song, by The Lowest of the Low. The shock of recognition, of street names and bars I knew, swung open a door for me and helped me see that I could talk about my city the same way Laura Ingalls Wilder talked about her little house on the prairie. And when I moved to Halifax, it became even more vital to me to write about my city, because most of the Atlantic Canadian books I found were set in rural places, in the past. I was starving for an urban novel set right this minute. So I wrote a couple myself.
Why do I write what I do?
I get obsessed with an idea, or a character, or a gesture, or a question, and then I chase it down, sentence by sentence. Mostly it’s characters I’m interested in. I write in order to spend time with them. With Fallsy Downsies I felt fortunate to have such an outsized protagonist as Lansing Meadows, and so it was very character driven for me, but I also had notions I wanted to explore, about fame and art and getting old, and his particular set of circumstances let me explore those ideas while spending time in his crusty company. Best of all possible worlds.
How does my writing process work?
Mostly I procrastinate until I have frittered away so much time that I risk some kind of public humiliation, as with Homing, which I wrote during NaNoWriMo and reported about it on national radio for DNTO, or face potentially having to give back an advance to my publisher as with Fallsy Downsies (it never came close to that, of course, but I imagine if I’d continued to procrastinate and broke my contract, it could have). And then I get down to business and stunt write my way through thousands of words a day in a fever frenzy. It’s not pretty. I wrote Fallsy Downsies entirely by hand—eighty seven thousand words, entirely by hand. And then typed it up so that I wouldn’t be able to squirm out of writing a complete second draft. I learned a lot. I look forward to whatever ridiculous gimmick I’ll need to use to trick myself into writing my third book.
Andrew Kaufman once described himself as my Fifth Business, and it’s hard to argue with that. Andrew was the first writer I met in my adult writing life. He was the only other cool person at the Humber School for Writers the summer I was there, though he was unnaturally obsessed with Molly Ringwald. But the bar for coolness was low, so I befriended him. He’s a fan of vinyl records, oversized frogs with human characteristics, and the absurd. He’s also the author of a bunch of awesome books, including All My Friends Are Superheroes and Born Weird.