Saturday, August 22, 2015
Chasing Scents on the Wind - interview with a Canadian author David More
I have not posted in a while, as my time has been taken up by a theatrical production. Today I am featuring a Canadian author David More who has two novels with Fireship Press, The Eastern Door and The Lily and the Rose featuring the French and Indian War. His self-deprecating charm is refreshing. Thank you, David, for joining us today.
I am excited to be a part of Marina’s blog, so a great, big thank-you, Connecticut Commie Soccer Mommy! With a tag like that, you might be right at home up across the northern (no longer so undefended) border with us here in Canuckistan. As the comedians say, we’re just Americans with gun control and universal health care, eh? I truly admire scribes like you, who regularly wind up the necessary energy and time to produce such an outpouring of creative energy as fills your blog, and hence I am very happy to piggyback on your efforts.
As most writers do, I yearn for the breakthrough. Hell, I yearn to sell my first 5,000 books, haha! I have followed my nose more than once, sniffing like a wistful, old coyote at the tiniest scrap of hope rotting away in the gutter, but having gratefully come home to Fireship Press (may it live forever) after passing through the self-publishing mirror, I have grown grumpy with glib, time-wasting scamps preying on us hope-chasers, when they phone and leave the scent of “we’ll put your manuscript in front of the Hollywood movers and shakers … for a mere $6,000.00” (or so).
In fact, I thought my time had come, back in 2007. That year I attended the Historical Novel Society Annual Conference in Albany, New York. My first novel, The Eastern Door, had just won two IPPYs, and, by God, my book was set in Albany! Talk about the stars aligning! I spoke to million-sellers Bernard Cornwell and Diana Gabaldon there. I even got a chance to make a five-minute pitch to two New York agents! And got some return interest from both, too. Sold some books. All very encouraging and heady, but of course, here I am, still bumbling along, little read, no agent, a few bucks coming in, every quarter. Like most of us.
I have accepted that a lightning strike like the one J.K. Rowling received is, indeed, more like winning a lottery than a realistic hope. So, I remain reasonably content that I made the right choice, way back when, after selling my first piece to the Montreal Gazette in 1977 for a head-turning $35.00 (CAD). I did not jump, whole hawg, into the full time writing swamp, but unromantically carried on working full time. I need good, enthusiastic, patient editors. I rewrite quickly and well, but I am the sort of writer that takes ten or even twenty hours to get out a 250-word newspaper piece that pays, er, $35.00 (CAD). Can’t live on that. I could never make a living as a freelancer, so you folks out there who do so also have my utmost admiration. Nor do I make a living from writing now, although I have managed to get out three good historical novels (the first two won three IPPYs) and a commissioned family history.
I truly do count my blessings that I have been able to write and publish almost a half-million words after supper, and on weekends, and that I was fortunate enough to have a wife and daughter who let me do so. I am very lucky. And now, with a fourth novel nearly done and a fifth begun, I have taken advantage of my newly found day time since retiring to start a PhD in history. That will end in a sixth book, albeit a non-fiction one, about a character I discovered in researching the novels. I think there will be time.
Money seems to be ever harder to come by for full time artists of many kinds. We live in an e-world where the very idea of actually paying anything for someone else’s creative intellectual property such as music, art or literature seems to be a quaint and ancient thought. But can one just keep giving it all away, truly? Or perhaps the real question is, “Can one now stop?” And, if not, how does the proverbial bacon get home to table? Beats me all to hell.
As a well-published Canadian writer, Shelley A. Leedahl, recently lamented this all-too-familiar starving author situation in the summer issue of the Writers’ Union of Canada magazine, Write,
“I’m 51 years old, my most recent book – I Wasn’t Always Like This (essays, Signature Editions) – has just been released, and if I’m lucky, in a few days I’ll be wearing steel-toed boots and an orange T-shirt as I stock shelves at Home Depot in Duncan [British Columbia].”