Your first book, Ten Thousand Days, was very much a love story about the hero searching for his lost wife. Tell us about Hell Comes to Hogtown: Is it a love story as well?
actually is a sort of love story, but probably not what youíre expecting. Itís not what I expected when I started writing it.
Hell Comes to Hogtown
is about a hapless underachiever named Fitz who works at a comic shop and canít get a date to save his life. When a beautiful woman walks into his shop by accident one rainy night he thinks his luck might actually be changingÖ until she gets him implicated in a murder and kidnapping case involving the prime ministerís family. Fitz and his best friend ñ a womanizing, drug-addicted professional wrestler named Dee ñ go on the run from the cops trying to clear their name only to discover thereís something way worse than the cops on their tail. A creepy, murderous hobo hounds them at every stepÖ and he may be some kind of demon.
So where does the love story come in?
When I first started writing the tale I thought the love story was going to be between Fitz and the mysterious woman. It was a major theme in the first draft but it seemed really forced and I couldnít figure out why. I eventually realized after conversation with my alpha reader (my brilliant wife, who has a knack for making sense out of my nonsense) that the love story isnít between Fitz and the woman, but between Fitz and Dee. Itís not romantic love, but the bond they share is far stronger than any other relationship either of them could hope for. I call the book a ìhorror comedyî but you could more specifically classify it as a ìhorror buddy comedy.î
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Depends on what you mean by ìwrite a book.î Also, do you mean currently, or under the best circumstances?
Years ago, before I was married and had kids, I wrote incredibly fast. I still do, I just donít always have the time to sit down and do it anymore. Iíve written 50,000 word first-drafts in under three weeks. The first draft of Ten Thousand Days
took three days. That sounds pretty good, except remember those are first drafts - they were rough and needed a lot of work. I have a bunch of ìfirst draftî books in The Closet that need a major polish and overhaul, so I wouldnít call those books finished by any means.
took about 5 months for the first draft, and it took close to a year to revise and edit it to get it where it needed to be. This is the first time Iíve ever put so much effort into really finishing a book as best as I possibly can, and it takes a lot of time. Writing is easy and fun. Revising is work. Iím sure I could have done it faster in different circumstances (and I learned a lot that will hopefully make the next one go faster) but family and my ìrealî job come first, so writing takes awhile.
Do you have any odd writing habits?
I write on the bus, does that count? I have a very long commute to and from work every day, so I might as well make use of that time, right? Hell Comes to Hogtown
was written and edited almost exclusively with my laptop balanced on my knees on an OC Transpo bus. Some people might find it distracting, but with my iPod blaring in my ears and my focus on my screen I donít even notice it anymore. I get so ìin the zoneî that sometimes I nearly miss my stop.
Do you ever get writerís block?
Not so far, knock on wood. If anything, I have too many ideas floating around in my head, I donít have time to work on them all. Often the biggest stumbling block to writing for me is just Life Happening. I have a family and a full time job, so writing has to come a distant third in my list of priorities and I donít always get to put as much work into it as I would like. My problem isnít getting to the keyboard and finding the ideas wonít come; my issue is usually is just getting to the keyboard sometimes. But you try not to get discouraged and work when you can, Eventually, even if itís just a few minutes here and there, you will get through the book and have something to show for it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In no particular order:
1. Mother Night
by Kurt Vonnegut - This was a perfect blend of comedy and blackness. It hit all the right notes for me at the age I read it, the lost love, the denouncement of war, the questions of morality, all undercut by Vonnegutís infamous dark sense of humour. Iím reading it again right now and it still blows me away with how effortlessly Vonnegut stirs up so much emotion. Itís not hilarious, laugh-out loud funny, but itís got a certain satirical levity that is totally incongruous with the dark and painful subject matter, and it works perfectly. I wish I could write a book like this.
2. The Road
by Cormac McCarthy - The best zombie book and it doesnít have a single zombie in it. Itís so bleak and depressing (though not as bad as some of his other work, like Blood Meridian
) but it holds onto a tiny sliver of hope so beautifully. I could never write a book like this and I donít think Iíd want to.
3. The Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams - If you donít know why I would like this we canít be friends.
by Christopher Moore - This is the book I wish I had written. Like, word for word. The true story of Jesus, as told by his childhood pal Biff. Itís priceless, and hilarious, and a so much fun while still holding onto some of that darkness that permeates other books I enjoy. Moore and myself share a similar sense of humour, which is pretty obvious in some of his more ìhorrorî themed books like You Suck: A Love Story
and A Dirty Job
. They could be spiritual cousins to Hell Comes to Hogtown
. Plus, how can you not love a book where Jesus travels to China, invents martial arts and calls it ìJu-do: The Way of the Jew?î
5. Anything by Terry Pratchett.