This is your first foray into fiction. How did you come up with the idea for this work?
The characters have been hanging around for years, and have popped up here and there in other stories. I didn’t know they were connected until the central character came into view and I realized that all the other characters orbited around this one.
What was the creative process like for you?
Henry Miller says of his writing that he writes to discover what it is that he is writing about. I found that description to hold true for me. Each of the story components in my novel started off in one direction then took a turn, at which time I discovered what the story was really about. The work took seven years.
Who did you read as a kid, and how did these first forays into reading fiction affect your sensibilities as a writer?
I didn’t read as a kid or young adult. I grew up in a hard rock mining town where other interests captured my attention. When I discovered reading, it was like discovering a lost continent.
What are you reading right now?
I’m plowing through the philosophy of Charles Taylor. And for the last year or more I’ve been reading contemporary Irish writers: Dermot Healy, Roddy Doyle, Patrick McCabe; Colum McCann, John Banville.
How and where do you write?
James Thurber’s wife would often grab his elbow at social gatherings and whisper, “Thurber, stop writing!”
I write all the time.
Do you write with a certain audience in mind? Who is your “ideal reader”?
Each work has its own reader. Sometimes even a fictive reader.
Name one person in your life who profoundly infuenced your work, and why did you choose this person?
Our influences aren’t chosen by us; they choose us. It happens the way grace happens.
Who is your favourite protagonist in a work of fiction or poetry, and why?
I’ve always been fascinated by the way Bob Dylan keeps coming up with new images for himself. Are any of these the real Dylan, or are they just fictive versions? How do we differentiate between fictive images of ‘real’ people and fictional characters? I like Trudeau, Dylan, Don Quixote, and Odysseus.
In your own work, which character are you most attached to, and why?
I’m attached to them all, even the most broken.
Tell us a little about the overarching theme of your work, and why you felt compelled to explore it.
I was hoping you’d ask what were the five causes of the French Revolution. OK, here’s the theme: stories are unstable. They change with each telling. And each telling reveals a piece we might not have discovered before. Same goes with reconstructing our “selves” from fragments of memory.