5.25 Blog Tour


I was nominated to participate in this Blog Tour by Philippa Dowding. I first met Philippa a number of years ago in the writing group Black Horse Press. I remember her bringing in the first book in the Lost Gargoyle Series and was amazed at her ability to write for people young and old. It’s been amazing to watch her success and I enjoyed the Lost Gargoyle Series even more the second time when researching for her appearance on my podcast. Philippa has always been a huge supporter of my work and someone to turn to for advice when publishing opportunities popped up for me. Find information about her books at her website pdowding.com. For the Blog Tour, we have four questions about our writing. Here are my answers.

1. What are you working on? At this exact moment, I'm finishing up the final edit for my first novel called The Walking Man. I've been working on this manuscript for a while and I can't wait to see it in print. Four years ago, I walked into Wayson Choy's class at the Humber School for Writers with a version of this book. I was fortunate enough to be taken under his guidance and many drafts later, I finally felt it was ready to be submitted to publishing companies.

About a year ago, I became a member of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) in Toronto. They held a fun talent show for their members and I signed up to read a short essay. Terrified, I somehow got through it and someone in the audience suggested I speak with Iguana Books, who were also members of CSI. I gathered up the courage to knock on their door and sat down with the acquisitions editor. Iguana Books is a hybrid company, taking the traditional approach of publishing and combining it with the growing ebook trend. They also encourage their authors to be involved with every step of the process, which made for a good fit with my slightly obsessive demeanor.

We approached the publication in an innovative way by using the crowdfunding platform called Pubslush. It's kind of like Kickstarter for the literary world. We ran a successful campaign - we actually hit 106% of our goal - and preparing to publish the book in the winter.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre? Genre has been an interesting source of frustration and relief. Sometimes at the same time. I started off writing fictional stories, but found I needed to express more of my feelings and thoughts. Wayson felt that I had such a strong voice in letters I had written, but when it came to my stories, that voice disappeared. He said that if I could transfer my 'letter' voice into my other writing, I might be on to something.

So, I started blog entries by addressing them directly to someone. Who that person was, I don't know. Something clicked because this was when people started connecting more to my work. Soon, this seemed to be the only way I could write and decided to rewrite The Walking Man in this voice.

It's not exactly memoir, although generally speaking, everything is based in real events. I take those events and elaborate them, while attempting to keep the emotional and authentic nature of the story. I guess you could call it creative non-fiction, leaning heavily on the fiction part. But then I came across Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard describe his work as a fictional novel with him as the main character. I felt this described exactly how my writing had developed perfectly.

3. Why do you write what you do? I know it's a bit of a cliche, but I have been writing since childhood. My mother read to us from a young age and this turned me into a ferocious reader. I had an interest in film, so would take long novels and turn them into screenplays. For fun.

Once in university, I took a creative writing class with Bruce Powe. He not only introduced me to a completely different type of literature, such as Jack Kerouac, Cormac McCarthy and T. S. Eliot, but he also showed me how writing can be used as a mode of self-expression. This was really huge because I realized that I had been writing as long as I could remember and it had become an integral part of my life.

I already mentioned the next milestone with Wayson Choy above, but this is where the writing really broke open for me. I wanted to write in an honest voice and open up dialogues with my readers. The short answer is that I need to write. When I'm feeling down or out of sorts, I usually realize I haven't written something in a few days. It's an addiction.

4. How does your writing process work? My writing process consists of short bursts of work. I'm not a 'sit down and write for eight hours' kind of person. My book is called The Walking Man for a reason. Usually, if I'm trying to figure something out or looking for inspiration, I'll go for a long walk through the city. I work things out in my head and once enough of the story is formed, I'll sit down and write it out.

Whenever I come up with ideas, I write them down. If I don't think about the idea or add to it in anyway, it's a bad one. If it sticks in my head, I know there's something there and I'll keep working on it. The Walking Man started out in this way. It was just a simple idea at first, but it's grown so big and I've worked on it for so long that I can't wait for it to be published - I couldn't work on anything until this was out in the world. I can then move on to new projects.

The writers I am nominating for the Friday, September 26th edition of the Blog Tour are:

Pj Kwong is a word broker who goes by the motto: I read them. I write them. I speak them. Pj has carved a successful career as a PA announcer at five Olympic Games. For over six years, she has worked at the CBC as the figure skating expert. She is the author of Taking the Ice and co-host and co-producer of the popular Open Kwong Dore Podcast. She is currently working as the Coordinator for Press Services at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Her blog can be found at pjkwong.com.

Stefan Hostetter is a writer, broadcaster and co-founder of The Green Society Campaign. His radio show The Green Majority can be found on CIUT 89.5 FM and is nationally syndicated on more than 18 campus and community stations across the country. The show reaches more than 50,000 weekly listeners and is Canada’s only environmental news hour on radio. Stefan is a member of The Reapers, a writing collective that explores personal stories and holds monthly storytelling events. His blog can be found at greensocietycampaign.org.