It is with great pride that I can tell you I did not win at this week’s 24th annual Hamilton Literary Awards.
Lemme explain that further: if you’ve gotta lose, lose to a Leacock Medal winner. It’s hard to feel like you lost anything when you are in such esteemed company. It’s surreal to even have my name on that finalists list, given the list included Caroline Stellings, Gary Barwin and Brent Van Staalduinen. Gary took the fiction prize, as he should have. I did what was probably the best reading of my new career so far, so I’m happy as hell about the whole thing. Plus I got to hang out with the amazing people I’ve been meeting on the Hamilton lit scene. Kudos to the other winners as well – Chris Pannell for poetry, Shawn Selway for non-fiction, and Andrew Baulcomb, winner of the Kerry Schooley Award. Way to clean up, Wolsak & Wynn!
Today’s show features an interview with lawyer, musician, political consultant, commentator and (of course) author, Warren Kinsella. His book Recipe for Hate has been receiving a lot of attention lately and its combination of politics and punk rock meant it was pretty much in my wheelhouse. Hope you enjoy the show.
A few weeks ago I took to the Hivemind (read: Facebook) to ask peoples’ advice on how I should proceed on writing the new novel (which I now have under the working title “River, Diverted” but I dunno…”Diverted” is a weird word and the comma is possibly pretentious)(River is my main character, BTW). Everyone and their dogs agreed, write all of the words and sort it out later. I grudgingly agree – “grudgingly” because it means a rough draft could be years in the making.
Structure is a difficult thing. Unless you’re starting at A and going to B, with little backstory, it’s easy to get bogged down. My story takes place in the present but the past is a huge element of the plot, to the point where it is almost a separate timeline – but this was a surefire way to end up with a 1,000 page (read: unpublishable) novel.
Enter this here radio show/podcast. I read about a book a week in order to stay on top of interviews, and recently I read This Side of Sad (Goose Lane) by Karen Smythe. It’s a book with no present tense to speak of, and no traditional plot to speak of…and it works incredibly well. The narrator remembers her past in short sections, paragraphs a half-page long or less, presented in an order that seems random but, of course, was probably painstakingly assembled (I’ll find out when I interview her). Her structure may have cracked this story open for me, giving me a way to illuminate important moments without dedicating entire chapters to them.
The takeaway is, writers – keep reading!
Two guests today. First up, Chris Pannell, a Hamilton writer who is part of the LitLive committee. We discuss LitLive, a long-standing reading series in Hamilton (and I’ll be making my LitLive debut this coming Sunday, Oct 1, so if you’re around, come on by! 7:30 pm at the Staircase Theatre.