Monday, April 27, 2015

A Man For All Seasons





            

A warm welcome to Howard Shrier as our latest victim to Jamie Tremain’s blog. This award winning author leaves no stone unturned. He has done it all, from journalism, many kinds of media, theatre and television, sketch comedy and improv. Teaching creative writing at the University of Toronto and the author of the Jonah Geller suspense novels.

“ A winning combination for any mystery lover.” The Globe and Mail

“Shrier is my top find of the year...His excellent PI series deserves much wider attention.” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“ Howard Shrier has quickly cemented his reputation as one of Canada’s most gifted thriller writers.” Now (Toronto)


Jamie:
Thanks for being here Howard. No doubt you’ve heard this before, but you have an amazing website and appear to have answered most of the questions we had on our list. However here’s the one questions always asked; Would you ever consider collaborating as Jamie Tremain does?

Howard:
Not on a book. I did work with another writer years ago on a script for CBC’s hit show Seeing Things, and collaboration seems to suit TV writing well. But books to me are a solitary pursuit.

Jamie:
Pam is a fan of Jonah Geller and is now anxiously waiting for him to appear in a series on television. How close are you to seeing that realized?

Howard:
Buffalo Jump was optioned for television shortly after publication in 2008. For the past six years, it has slogged through what is commonly known as development hell. At one point, CTV seemed poised to greenlight a pilot, then it was bought by Bell Globe Media, decision makers changed and everything ground to a halt. Right now, Pam’s guess is as good as mine as to when a show might actually happen.

Jamie:
Do you have a particular actor in mind to portray him?

Howard:
Besides me? (That’s me laughing.) I always liked Zach Braff, the star of Scrubs, for the light in his eyes. If he were a little more fit, he’d be great. Same is true of Seth Rogen (though he’d have to get a lot more fit). He has the humour – and some of the anger – that Jonah carries.

Jamie:
How close is your portrayal of Jonah like you? Are you into martial arts?Did you do a stint in the Israeli army?

Howard:
Jonah is very much like me in terms of the way he sees the world, his humour, what he considers to be unjust, but the rest? Not even close. I studied martial arts when I was a teenager but haven’t been in a fist fight in over 40 years. I visited Israel in 1970, when I was a lad but have never had any military experience of any kind. I’ve researched both aspects extensively –YouTube, for example, is fantastic for watching martial artists at work.



Jamie:
Buffalo Jump and High Chicago both won awards. Do you find winning awards gives you more street cred? What did the recognition do for your writing career?

Howard:
Winning two Arthur Ellis awards definitely gave me more cred in the crime writing community. And beyond: the Canadian Who’s Who, for example, included me in the past few editions because of those awards. Unfortunately, as I noted on my website, they didn’t seem to do much for sales. I think the Crime Writers of Canada have done a great job of promoting the Arthurs, but they are still not widely known outside certain circles.

Jamie:
What, if any, are your frustrations - or praises -  with being a successful author in Canada?

Howard:
I love public speaking and my theatre background has equipped me to do it fairly well, so I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to present my work to book groups, libraries, writers’ conferences and other audiences. Frustrations? Chiefly that publishers don’t do as much as they used to, to promote the work of their authors and have downloaded most of it onto us. As I sometimes tell readers, if I had wanted to be a salesman, I’d have gone into a family business.

Jamie:
You have a background in comedy and improv. Comedy is scattered throughout your writing and it enriches the character of Jonah. How important is the element of comedy to your writing?

Howard:
It’s very important to me – and to my characters, I think. People like Jonah, Jenn Raudsepp and Dante Ryan do hard, dangerous work, and like many people in that element, a little black humour goes a long way. My own taste as a fan also runs in that direction. When characters become overly sour and self-important – think Kay Scarpetta – I get turned off.

Jamie:
You are a family man with two teenagers. Do you find it hard to find a balance between your writing life and being a good parent? Do your children read your books?

Howard:
My sons read all my books once they were old enough. My youngest, who is now 15, used Buffalo Jump as the basis for a school project this year, which I found pretty cool. It has been hard at times to balance work and family. I wrote most of Buffalo Jump between five and seven in the mornings because I still had a full-time corporate writing job and it was the only free time I could find. That meant I was often too tired to do some of the things I’d have liked to do with the boys and my wife. Happily, since I left corporate life ten years ago to write full time, I’ve been able to spend more time with everyone.



Jamie:
Your work in progress is set in Montreal in 1950-51. So, something new. Can you tell us something about it?





Howard:
Montreal was an amazing place in those years. Teeming with vice and scandal, even as young reformers like Jean Drapeau were gathering in the wings. Also, the financial heart of Canada, where fewer than 200 families controlled most of the country’s wealth from their mansions in a small enclave known as The Square Mile. The book I’ve been working on the past two years follows a homicide investigation that takes Sergeant Max Handler from the gritty underworld and glittering casinos to top of The Square Mile.

Jamie:
You teach writing at the University of Toronto. What would be the single most important lesson you would share with new writers?

Howard:
Probably to read voraciously in their field. I’m surprised, frankly, at how many people who take my course don’t really read crime fiction all that widely. I had probably read close to 3,000 before I wrote one. The other – which I’ll toss in gratis – is to forget what is hot in the market and find your own voice and setting, because what’s is hot now probably won’t be by the time your book is ready to come out.

Jamie:
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the writing life. Looking forward to your next book and seeing Jonah come to life on television.

Thanks for asking!

Links: To contact Howard




Howard Shrier was born and raised in Montreal, where he earned an Honours Degree in journalism and creative writing at Concordia University. He has worked as a writer for more than thirty years in a wide variety of media, including print, magazine and radio journalism, theatre and television, sketch comedy and improv, and high-level corporate and government communications. His critically acclaimed first novel,Buffalo Jump, which introduces Toronto investigator Jonah Geller, won the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel. The sequel, High Chicago, won the Arthur Ellis for Best Novel of 2009, making Howard the first author in the history of the awards to win both back to back. Boston Cream was published to rave reviews in 2013, including starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal. Miss Montreal, the fourth Geller book, is due out May 14, 2013. All the Geller books are published by Random House Canada and have been optioned for television by Toronto-based Media Headquarters.  Howard is also the author of one standalone thriller, Lostport (2011). He now lives in Toronto with his wife and sons and is working on a new novel set in Montreal in 1950-51. He also teaches writing at University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. He plans to write a longer bio when he needs to procrastinate a bit more.





Check back next month for an interview with Jill Downie, the author of the
Moretti and Falla Mysteries and more.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Jamie

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I'm not a cat lady!


I am not a cat lady but who can resist them. And she is such a pretty girl is our Siggi. We were informed at the Humane society when we bought her that Calicos are not always the friendliest and never come when you call. She has proved them wrong.





She is very nosy and inquisitive and often perches on my desk reading  emails. Today she enjoyed a yutube video of horses line dancing. It's true. If you want to see it I'll send you the link.
I complained to my husband that he could be doing something other than watching golf on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. His answer, "Did you not tell me that you had just watched horses line dancing?' Case closed.



I'm not, I'm not a cat lady. Yes, I protest too much.

It's been a busy month since we signed with Black Opal Books and wait on our first edits. Income tax, book panel discussions at the library, book club get together's and reading the latest for our next victims interview on this blog. There is a theme going on here.



Howard Shrier will be in the hot seat April 27th. Be sure to check back then and I'll tell you more about our resident feline who has taken over our lives.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam