Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Chris Eaton

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Chris

August 25, 2008 -

OB:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

CE:

Honestly, my first real publication was my first novel, the inactivist, with Insomniac Press in 2003. I don’t traditionally like writing short things. I get that fix from working with music. So I never went the traditional rout of sending out short stories to magazines. I let people read things as I’m writing, though. And on a few occasions before the inactivist, I was asked to write short stories for fledgling periodicals. All three of them went under before the issue came out, though.

OB:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

CE:

Canadian cultural experience? Can you give me a multiple choice? I’m not sure cultural experiences influence my writing as much as random arcane facts and back page news stories. Recently I was writing a lot about a guy who builds his dream home up north only to get a fatal lung disease from mould he unearths. That seems like a pretty Canadian experience, I guess.

OB:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

CE:

Books are kind of like lovers or friends. There aren’t certain books that are right for everyone. But I used to buy Ray Smith’s Lord Nelson Tavern for everyone whenever I saw it in a used book store. Mordecai Richler also seems to capture Canada pretty well, especially when he writes about people living abroad. But I guess that’s not the question.

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

CE:

So far, my ideal writing environment has been Panama, where I followed my partner to live for four months. Knowing no Spanish and having no friends around, I wrote more than I ever have in my life.

OB:

William Faulkner was once asked what book he wished he had written; he chose Moby Dick (with Winnie the Pooh as a close second). Is there a book that you wish you had written?

CE:

Anything by Faulkner, I suppose.

OB:

Is there a book that you think you should have read by now but haven’t?

CE:

Not that I can think of off the top of my head, no.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

CE:

William Vollmann. But only in short bursts. Been so busy lately, I only get to read in the van when we’re on the road.

OB:

Do you have a specific readership in mind when you write?

CE:

Me. Sometimes this gorgeous woman named Laura Reinsborough.

OB:

What’s your next project?

CE:

Other than a new CD, I’m continuing the book I started in Panama three years ago. My current touring schedule has made it harder to find time to write, but it’s coming. It looks like it’s going to be one of those mammoth 1000-page monsters, and I’m hoping to tell a story using coincidence and chance instead of plot. 25 main characters with the same name who never meet, but somehow create a story as if it’s one life. If it works, it will work beautifully.

OB:

Do you have any advice for writers who are trying to get published?

CE:

Do what feels right. Send your work to whomever you want. Whenever you want. If it’s good, it won’t be an imposition to anyone. That’s what we’re all looking for in this business – someone who amazes or entertains us when we read them. They can be few and far between, and if a publisher finds you, they will do anything for you. It’s not really even a business, so much, as a community.

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