Saturday, December 14, 2013
Winter, although not officially arrived, has certainly settled in. We are in the deep freeze, with a good layer of snow on the ground and more falling as I write. Can we say “White Christmas?”….how nice that will be for a change. Christmas is fast approaching, and the hustle and bustle is increasing to frenzied proportions.
With so much activity in these weeks and days leading up to Christmas, both Pam and I find it’s hard to concentrate on much writing. However, I’ve recently discovered “Bit Strips” on FaceBook and am using them to poke some fun at our writing world. We plan on a writing day early in January to get back on track and see what the New Year will bring for Jamie Tremain.
I don’t often get to the movies, but have seen two in the last two weeks. Philomena with Judi Dench (love her!) and Steve Coogan, is a heart warming tale based on true events. A gentle movie that could require Kleenex, and one I’d watch again. And last night my oldest son, William, and I met at our local theatre to take in The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug. Even though we had to sit quite near the front, it was a fast paced adventure. More enjoyable than the first instalment and now am waiting for the third. Since watching The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey last year, I’ve become a huge fan of Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch through the BBC series “Sherlock”. So that added an extra layer to my enjoyment of the film last night.
On the home front I’m looking forward to experiencing Dickens’ Christmas Carol with two of my grandchildren next week at the RiverRun Centre and then later in January it will be Peter Pan for the other two. My daughter, Christine, will come along as well, and I’m really looking forward to both productions and hope that it will ignite a love of live theatre in the younger ones.
With Christmas comes expectations, family gatherings, excesses of all kinds, and stresses. This year in particular I am sobered by the thoughts of friends and co-workers who are battling serious illnesses. There is never a good time to be ill, but Christmas time seems to really tug at the heart, especially when there are little ones involved. My thoughts and prayers are with one family in particular and it’s put a different perspective on what’s truly important. Not just at this time of year, but every day.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the series of interviews which Pam has done so well. Don’t go too far away, because there will be more in store for 2014!
We’re looking forward to Bloody Words in 2014 and becoming more involved with this amazing community of writers and authors we’re fortunate to be part of – a more encouraging, educational, and fun group I’ve never known.
So from this half of Jamie Tremain I wish you a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the Best for a Healthy and Happy New Year.
Monday, December 9, 2013
To celebrate our year of monthly interviews at Jamie Tremain’s blog our Christmas post welcomes bestselling author Andrew Pyper.
This Stratford, Ontario native decided there were too many lawyers in the world and started writing thrillers and scary novels that keep us up at night. And we’re very glad he did. Since he declared the ‘bar’ was not for him he has found much success as a writer.
Thanks for agreeing to talk with us Andrew. I first met you at Lakefield College a few years ago and recently you joined Liz and I for lunch at Scene of the Crime Festival. You were there to read from your latest book Demonologist and also to receive the Grant Allen award for your contribution to Canadian writing. How important is it to attend these events?
I honestly don’t know how important it is in strict business terms (if you crunched the numbers, it might well be time better spent working on your next book) but it is important to me. Meeting readers, fans, fellow writers, booksellers, students – it’s a great pleasure on a personal level and, I think, a necessary reminder of the community that brings us together in this wonderful, unlikely, mad racket of books. (I should say that receiving the Grant Allen Award in particular was an honour, and was part of a memorable getaway weekend!)
You have a degree in English Literature. Who has influenced you the most when writing your own work?
I’ve never had a living mentor. My influences have all come from the page (and, sometimes, the screen). If I had to name a shortlist, it would look rather incongruous: Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis, Stephen King. Make of it what you will.
You are a family man with small children. Your books are scary and can cause nightmares with a sensitive soul such as me. How old will your children be before you let them read your books?
I plan on giving them a gift of my entire library on the day they move out of the house.
The Demonologist film rights have been sold. What are your feelings about this exciting development to see characters you have created up on the big screen?
I just hope they make the movie. Brilliant, good, bad or awful, it would be so thrilling to sit in a darkened cinema and see your people do the things you made them do, and maybe even say some of the things you had them say. I’m not terribly anxious about the film “remaining true” to the book, as it will inevitably be a different thing, its own thing. In any case, when authors retain control over their own adaptations it doesn’t often lead to happy results anyway.
Have you ever collaborated with another author? Would you?
I’ve worked on a couple of TV pitches with a friend, but I’ve never written a whole book with someone else. If the right person and the right story came along, I suppose I’d consider it.
Tell us about your writing process? Lock the door to an office or sit in a coffee shop with your laptop?
Historically, I’ve been able to write pretty much anywhere – I’m not fussy about noise or pretty views or barometric pressure, etc. But over the last several years of parenthood, it’s just made more sense to work at home. So my routine is 1) Make breakfast for kids, 2) Grab coffee for myself, 3) Head upstairs to the office and close the door. I’ve probably gotten so used to it now that if I went to the café to work, I’d be ripping the espresso machine off the counter in the first fifteen minutes and screaming at everybody to get off their damn phones.
Andrew reading from the Demonologist after receiving the Grant Allen award on Wolfe Island at Scene of the Crime festival this past August.
Liz has joined me today in asking Andrew a few questions as she just loves the dark side.
No, I’ve never been explicitly asked – or even nudged – to set my novels in one place over another. I realize this may be a little unusual, as I have many colleagues who have been asked to change their Saskatoon to Boston, their Dryden to Manhattan. But it’s just never come up. For me, setting isn’t determined by market or by nationalism, but by the story itself.
Any particular reason you chose not to pursue a career in law - or is writing just more fun?
I don’t know what I’d be doing for a living today if Lost Girls, my first novel, hadn’t met with the success that it did. Probably working as a bartender somewhere and writing on the side. Or maybe I would have been a criminal lawyer, as that was the one area that interested me and that I may well have been good at. But these are unwelcome speculations.
Was there a haunted house in your childhood which you based the setting of The Guardians?
I see haunted houses wherever I go. But in terms of growing up in Stratford, we didn’t have a haunted house (at least not a particular one I recall) but a haunted bridge. It was located just outside town, and we’d drive out there sometimes and freak ourselves out, daring each other to cross it. Every youth needs a haunted something, I think. In my case, it’s been considerably more than one something.
When did you become interested in writing about the dark, and not always unseen, side of life?
My mother kept many of the stories I wrote when I was in primary school, and you can see it there too, right from the beginning: the gothic, the suspenseful, the fantastical turn. I love building solid-looking floors and then opening a hidden trap door in the middle of them. I love what the experience of fear reveals in my characters, as well as in myself.
I can remember reading the Exorcist when it first arrived on the scene and couldn't sleep without a light on for years after that. Have you ever scared yourself when writing?
Yes. Perhaps I’ll leave it at that.
The Globe and Mail best 100 books of 2013. The Demonologist -For me, as a parent, and grandparent, I think the fear of losing a child, or not being able to find them, is the frightening undercurrent of your novel - wondering how far you'd go to find them. "Hell is a night drive looking for a missing child." Was it difficult to separate yourself, the author, from your created character, David Ullman, as he desperately searches for Tess?
I have to be emotionally involved in the story – no matter how removed its events from my own life – and in the case of The Demonologist, David’s position as father, as a protector, was crucial to my involvement in the narrative. Discomfort, fear, real worry: these are among the necessary ingredients for me.
Thanks Andrew for spending the time with us today. We wish you continued success in your pursuit to keep our hearts pounding and scaring the daylights out of us. Demons and Christmas may not mix, but a good book is a good book under the Christmas tree or any time.
Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1968. He received a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from McGill University, as well as a law degree from the University of Toronto. Although called to the bar in 1996, he has never practiced.
His new novel, The Demonologist, was published in Canada and the US by Simon & Schuster in March, 2013, and by Orion in the UK and Australia in April 2013. Film rights have been sold to Universal Pictures with Robert Zemeckis’company, Image Movers, producing. Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, Robert Schenkkan, is adapting.
We’re glad you visited with us today to learn about Andrew Pyper. Check him out on twitter or FB and say hullo. Better yet, get thee to a book store and buy the Demonologist before it’s sold out.
2014 has a good ring to it and Jamie Tremain will start the blog in January with Gloria Ferris talking to us about her new book Corpse Flower.
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