What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I don’t really have a writing background. I have bits and pieces of a formal education. Not much and no creative writing classes, nothing like that. My mother was a published author. My father has self published through Lulu. My father is a PhD and my mother was college educated. Long before I ever wrote I was an articulate and powerful public speaker.
Later on I was participating in online forums attached to a free online dating site. I was able to pull women to me because I am articulate.
There was a woman I liked but I was too short and too broke to ever be more than a friend to her. I sent her a story about how I went down to Kirkland, Washington, and entered a boxing tournament and I knocked out my first opponent. I ended up having three fights that day and I lost in the finals. Basically I’m saying, “See? I’m a man…”
It didn’t make any difference to her of course but I had a good story and I took a chance and posted it in the Stories/Creative writing forum connected to the dating site. This was Plenty of Fish.
The story was well received and I started writing. I developed a following. I was working nights as a security guard, with nothing much to do but think and brood. In the morning I sat down at the computer and wrote it up.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I was prolific for a while. In ten months I accumulated about 136,000 words. I was writing a story every day or two. I sent some of these stories to this woman I was talking to online. “She messaged me back, “Holy crap you can write!” I figured maybe I could hitch my star onto my writing. This woman heard about the Simon Fraser University’s First Book Contest. This was through the Writers Studio, graduates of their creative writing program judged the manuscripts. The contest was cosponsored by Anvil Press. My ex helped me proof it and I used her feedback in terms of a rough edit. It was not linear. I was doing all this on instinct. The book ended up short listing.
This is a convoluted way of saying that I have mostly focused on moving this book. I am not writing a lot right now. I also have a lot of left over material from the first book and some of it is good. Outtakes, but I can use some of it.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I write nonfiction. I don’t see that as likely to change. I don’t read fiction either, very rarely if at all. I have read some great fiction in the past. I couldn’t read until I was eight and nobody knew why. Finally I was diagnosed as dyslexic and I went to a special school in New Jersey and I became an avid reader. James Baldwin, Manchild in the promised land by Claude Brown, Orwell, Upton Sinclair, Jerzy Kosinski, Among the lowest of the dead, by David Von Dehle, Dino by Nick Toches, The Naked and the dead by Mailer, The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley. I could go on. If these great writers influenced my style I don’t know. I can’t say. I have my own unique style. Perhaps they percolated through my subconscious.
I moved back to Canada in early spring of 2002. I had been living in the States for sixteen years, seven years in Southern California and nine years in Nevada, mostly in Vegas. I didn’t start writing in any kind of intentional way until 2009. I had told people bits and pieces of my background, you know, and they were interested in the Vegas stuff more than anything else, so I apprehended that I had a story. The title of my book, “Early out”, is casino terminology that I explain somewhere in my narrative.
I got satisfaction out of writing it. I figured that it could be useful for me. For example, I’m trying to date women and worrying about my tawdry past. I’d give them the link and tell them, “Read this and see if we still have anything to talk about.” And that took care of that, most of the time.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I’m lazy. I am not being disingenuous. I write fast. I say the words out loud when I’m typing. That helps me. I use a lot of sentence fragments, although I have gotten better as I have matured as a writer. In fact I think that I have improved as a writer over these past three plus years. Just on instinct and from writing. I polished my skills. My book closes strong. Some of the best pieces are in the last four or five stories.
I don’t want to make up stories. It’s so much easier to remember and write. I have a sharp memory and a nuanced sense of irony. My stuff is fairly dark so it’s not for everybody. There is humor just the same. It reads like fiction regardless and I do have one story about a stuffed toy hippo that I bought at Blockbusters. She is the Backyardigan hippo and I named her Holly the lovable psychotic hippo. She is my alter ego and she takes care of business for me.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
My current project is flogging this one book to death. This book was submitted to Harper/Collins through James Frey and I thought for a while that I was going to get it. Get a contract. Michael Signorelli, the editor, said he “loved the feel of my voice”, but he wanted a more sustained narrative. I tried to stitch a linear version together with intersecting timelines. It was fairly onerous. I sent him the new version but by then he had moved on, or who really knows? I phoned this guy because I sold three of the pieces to SubTerrain Magazine, a quarterly literary magazine published by Anvil Press. I was worried about copyright. Signorelli said that because it was a periodical I retained copyright and not to worry and “congratulations, you are published.”
If this is convoluted to read imagine living it. My manuscript was under consideration by Anvil Press as well, at that time and I was worried about a conflict that would happen if I got an offer from Anvil when I really wanted Harper/Collins. But guess what?
I finally uploaded to Smashwords. That’s a mixed bag as well.
What are your writing plans for the future?
I may rework my manuscript yet again. It’s good, it could be great. I’m trying to figure out a way to bridge the stories so that it is more cohesive. It’s a good, fast read. Deceptively simple but there is a lot going on in there. I’ve gotten good feedback thus far. It’s hard for me to know because these are memories for me so naturally they have power, power for me.
Thank you for the opportunity and the opening Ruth. There is something lonely about this process sometimes. I appreciate the opportunity to reach out.
Where can people find out more about you?