I write fiction mostly, which means I get to hang out with characters who don’t exist so I can find out what happens to them.
I'm drawn to the ones who make life difficult for themselves. If they aren't at the end of their rope when the story begins, they'll get there in a page or two. The French put it succinctly: Les gens heureux n'ont pas d'histoire. Happy people don't have a story--they're just happy. But unhappiness can be achieved in all sorts of interesting ways.
Some of the characters who engage me end up discovering who they really are, while others do their best to avoid that encounter.
Whatever journey they're on, they don't get far without packing an umbrella and a sense of humour: life always holds the trump card and its ironies forever rumble in the distance.
Do their stories have a message or a moral? I sincerely hope not. The contemporary writers I enjoy most—Boyd, McEwan, Munro, Swift, Toews, Toibin and Wright, among others—leave readers in a state of comfortable uncertainty, which is maybe as close as we'll ever get to understanding life.
I admire their craft as well: their writing doesn't sound like writing. The jazz trumpeter, Etienne Charles, said the whole point of practicing an instrument is to get it out of the way, so all that's left is the music. Maybe that's the point ofwriting: to get the words out of the way, so all that's left is the story.
Along with the many rejections that remind me there's always more to learn about writing, I've had some encouragement along the way.
My short story "Defiled" was awarded first place in Bosque magazine's 2014 fiction competition, judged by American novelist, Manuel Muñoz. You can read the story at http://www.abqwriterscoop.com/bosque.html
"An Original Sin" won the Literal Latté Fiction Award in New York for 2014. You can go to www.literal-latte.com to read the story. Last year my story, "Out of the Blue", was runner-up, so it was an honor to have my work recognized in successive years.
"Paris Street. Rainy Day, 1877" won the John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award for 2014. http://www.johnkennethgalbraithliteraryaward.ca/index.htm.
My first novel, Evenings with Dr. Palindrome, was short-listed for the Yeovil (UK) International fiction award for 2014.
My work has also been published in The Kappan (US), Dialogue (Canada), The Globe and Mail, Canadian Stories and Ten Stories High.
My mentors are the fiction writers I read, but I owe a special thanks to Lee Gowan at the Banff Institute, David Bezmozgis at the Humber School of Writing, and Justen Ahren at the Martha’s Vineyard Writers’ Residency (NOEPE) in Massachusetts. Richard B. Wright, a compelling story-teller and master craftsman, has been a good friend and an inspiration for years.
I owe much to my daughter, Catherine Rose, for her thoughtful and perspicuous work as my editor. She has herself just acquired an editing diploma from Ryerson University. Thanks also to my former student, Dylan Mitchell-Funk, who created this website.
Dylan has provided excerpts from my novels, stories and articles. Feel free to browse and comment—and thanks for visiting.