I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario where I attended Saltfleet High School and McMaster University. I’ve spent most of my life fighting for the little guy in one form or another, advocating for the poor, for environmental sustainability, for minority rights.
Throughout my twenties, I wrote about five novels and threw them all out because they weren’t very good. But I improved and honed my skills with each new manuscript. About two years ago, I had an offer from a traditional publishing house, but I chose to go indie instead. Writing is my passion; if I could dedicate myself to one thing, it would be bringing the ideas in my head to life.
What inspires you to write?
Just about anything, really. Mostly music. I have most of my ideas when I’m either working out or driving, but sometimes I’ll see something on the news that will make me say “You know, that would make a great story concept.” So I might take a current event and ask how I could explore it if I added futuristic technology or different alien cultures. That sort of thing.
Tell us about your writing process.
I usually write a story around the climax, meaning I come up with the climax first and then fill in the details of what led to that moment afterward. I’m a huge fan of rock music. Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Pearl Jam, Pretty Reckless: that kind of rock music. So a lot of my good ideas happen when I’m behind the wheel of my car.
Take a random song – let’s say Alert Status Red by Matthew Good. I’ll hear that song, and suddenly the image of Anna running through an office building and dodging security guards will pop into my head. I usually write down the action sequence at my earliest opportunity. I can hold onto it for a few days, but I like to get a first draft on paper before I lose some of the details.
So now that I have that scene, I need a context for it. Generating a context is simply a matter of asking yourself all the logical questions.
Why is she in the office building?
So I invent an objective. Maybe there’s something in the office building she needs to recover. (I’m being vague here to avoid spoilers.)
How did she get into the office building?
What sort of security measures would stand in her way? Most major companies use key-card access. So how does she get a key-card? These all lead to extra chapters that fill in the rest of the story. Chapters where we set up the central conflict, inform the reader of the stakes (What happens if Anna loses), and deal with the mini-conflicts like getting past security.
Now back to square one. Maybe I’m listening to I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen, and that song inspires a major turning point in the romance subplot. Again, ask all the logical questions. How did we get here? Why do the characters feel the way they feel? Put the interpersonal plot together with the action plot, and pretty soon you have a novel.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I really only talk to one of my characters, and that would be Anna. She has something of a special place in my heart. Sometimes when I’m uncertain of how to handle something, I ask myself what would Anna do?
Who are your favorite authors?
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I was a teenager, I came up with something of a life motto. “If you can’t win by playing their game, then don’t play it.” Honestly, if I were to go the traditional route, it would mean sending copies of the manuscript to agents, hoping one of them even bothered to read it and wrote back to me.
Believe it or not, I did just that with another novel that I wrote three years ago. I got a response from a small Canadian publisher; they were interested in the book, but the contract they offered was very predatory. Now, I can’t get too deep into the specifics for legal reasons, but my lawyer recommended against taking the offer, and the publisher was not willing to amend some of the more troublesome clauses. So I turned down the offer.
At that point, I had two choices. I could either go back to square one and hope someone would notice my work. Or I could try to put my work where I knew people would see it. I chose the latter.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I honestly think e-books are going to become much more prevalent, and I say this primarily because we’re reaching a point where we’re dealing with serious resource overshoot. If you visit the Global Footprint Network, you’ll see that we’re using resources 1.5 times faster than the Earth can replenish them. We can’t just keep clear-cutting forests to support our industrial economy. (Though, admittedly, much of that is caused by the meat industry). That said, I think having a single device that can store hundreds of books is much more efficient from an environmental perspective.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?