Tell us a bit about your family.
I’m from a working class family and I grew up in the East end of Montreal and East of the East End (which is way nicer). My dad’s a welder, my mom worked as an office clerk for many hospitals (she’s retired now). I’m mostly French-Canadian but with all things concerning origins in this country, it’s complicated and “mixed” so those notions of “where was your great-great-granddad from” are increasingly irrelevant to me.
My spouse is Mary Lee Maynard and we met because we were both signers in hardcore bands back in the day. Funny thing is that she’s from the same neighbourhood I was from but we didn’t meet because of that. She has her degree in Studio Arts from Concordia University and now works on big film sets in the props deptartment. She’s the one who kicked my ass into going to college in writing.
We have a four year old daughter named Kaori, two cats and two lizards. I guess that covers it for now.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
I go to sleep. Usually, self-doubt arises when I’m too tired and sore from work. I usually sleep it out and everything works out fine the next morning. As far as fear goes, I can’t say it’s a problem I really have to deal with. I have fears concerning my daughter’s well-being in this shitty world we’re headed for. As far as I am concerned, I’ve been in the shit before but everything’s been peaches and cream for years, so I knock on wood.
What scares you the most?
To die before my daughter has come of age. It might sound fucked up, but I don’t mind my own death so much as the fact that I could die before she can fend on her own. This also implies that I couldn’t give her everything she needs to get a good life which means some money for college and a place to live.
Aside from that, I think that highly religious people scare me the most. I mean, I understand the need for spirituality, but some guy reading me scripture in the Metro (Sorry! Sorry! Subway) just tingles my backbone.
What makes you happiest?
Combine all of these: Art gallery, my wife being happy, some friends and the good discussions that come with that, daughter paiting on her own wall, good coffee (the first one who says starbucks is getting stomped) – from the Italian Social club on St-Viateur. Maybe a good Jewish bagel while we’re at it. 10 degree weather, a hoodie on, instrumental hip-hop or post-rock in the corner…
I mean, a lot of stuff will make me happy, but that, will make me happiest.
What’s your greatest character strength?
I’m stubborn. Hopefully in a good way. I don’t really accept failure, I mostly look for ways to make things work. That kind of Stubborn.
What’s your weakest character trait?
I don’t work well with others. I can work with others, but people I actually like to work with are few and far between. I’d stick with these ladies and gents through any projects, but I rarely admit anyone else in that circle and I don’t trust other people’s work over mine that easily.
Why do you write?
It’s in me and it needs to get out. Is there another reason to write?
Have you always enjoyed writing?
I started coming up with stories in grade 3 and I don’t think I stopped since. The first thing I remember writing was this sort of role playing game rule book. Me and my two friends (yes, two of them) used to play shit like Hero Quest or something and we thought I’d be cool to write our own quests. So we did. I think we also tried to adapt some videogames and make them into role playing games. (I know, how geek was that? – remember this was in, like, 1991 so cosplay and conventions with sexy geeks DID NOT EXIST) That old Jurassic park game from SNES was one of these.
I had a phase where I didn’t write fiction at all through my early years of college (I focused on philosophy and political science) but as the years went by, I came back to fiction. I’m not saying I’d never write philosophical essays again. I enjoy theater and scripts too, as well as graphic novels (I don’t think I’d do another game, but who knows?). For the time being, it just happens that the stories I need to tell come out better as novels.
What are your goals as a writer?
I really just want to write works that I want to write. Some people take jobs as bloggers or journalists and then hope to write fiction. I wrote a few blog posts for Criminal Element, which a few friends told me was a pretty good gig, but I didn’t have it in me to do that.
I can only write something properly if I feel it in my guts and it has to get out. So I only write that now. I got a decent job so writing doesn’t need to pay the bills just yet. I’d rather build a long term career rather than fake my way into the popular genre of the moment.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not at all in fact. With the internet and global shipping these days, I can actually do nearly all the work from a laptop. Luckily enough I live in a big, culturally driven city (Montreal) so that means I just get to do events in my home town and it’s both enjoyable as well as easy. I guess I need to make my way to Toronto for a weekend someday, but that city has never impressed me at all, so I’m compelled to stay put.
What books have most influenced your life?
“We owe you nothing” the punk planet collected interviews, was a big thing for me. All ages, reflections on Straight Edge was also significant. As far as literature goes, 1984, of course, but also As I lay Dying. I did most of my studies in French and somehow, As I Lay Dying was the first novel I ever read in English.
Have you ever considered anyone as a mentor?
Not really. Not at all in fact. I have certain artists and musicians that inspire me, but as far as having some guy telling me “oh! That’s how you start or end a scene.” That never happened.
Who is your favorite author and why?
If I had to choose a favorite poet, it would be Al Purdy. I also like the way Tim Barry writes songs.
I’m also a big fan of David Fennario, a bilingual playwright from Montreal. Mordecai Richler is way up there on the list and I just started Murakami’S 1Q84 and I really, really like it so far.
Can we expect any more books from you in the future?
I’m sincerely trying to put out two significant works every three years. I have another novel that’s well under way and I’m also writing a movie script at the same time for a project that could see the day of light in 12 to 18 months.
Have you started another book yet?
I have. The title is Grand Trunk and Shearer and it’s the name of a street corner in the working class district of Pointe-St-Charles. It’s a literary-noir in the sense that it’s a story about a gruesome murder but I take a lot of pleasure in talking about the community, tradition, the impacts on the family/friends. I get into some pretty hardcore stuff (mma fights on reserves, nazi skinhead beatdowns, 24h boxing gyms, tattoo shop dialogues, crack dens, the guy works a trucking yard, etc…) but I try to write it in a compelling way.
I think it’s more important to capture the emotion and the details of a moment rather than just add gore and violence. The heavy, violent parts become “greater” or more visceral if you get the humanity driving them.
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Genre - Literary, Coming of Age
Rating – PG13
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