Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions With Corey Redekop

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Corey

January 1, 2008 -

OB:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

CR:

My first (and only so far) publication is my novel Shelf Monkey, published in Canada in April of 2007.

OB:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

CR:

This may make me a bad Canadian, but I cannot think of a single recent event that I’ve consciously used in any way. Possibly the recent Toronto International Film Festival, but only in the way that the media fawns over celebrities like hyenas on a bloated water buffalo carcass. I find this over-obsession with celebrities fascinating in a sick, sick way. Look at TMZ or Perez Hilton; is this the best we can do with such technology?

OB:

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

CR:

Well, as much as I love to pimp for my own novel, I think I’d start with Michael Winter’s The Big Why. First, it’s a terrific book, flat-out one of the best Canadian novels of the past five years. Second, it’s set in Newfoundland in the early 20th century, so that covers two basic Canadian literary concepts right there, Canadian history and Newfoundland. If it concerned a family tragedy as well, I think we’d have the trifecta. Next, Cory Doctorow’s Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town; I think that Canadians are viewed as somewhat stodgy and behind-the-times on the world stage, and a newcomer needs to be reminded that we are far more hip and edgy than we appear. Finally, Trevor Cole’s Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life, because we’re damn funny people, and if there’s a funnier Canadian novel written in the 21st century, I haven’t found it. Then I’d throw in Shelf Monkey, because I need to eat.

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

CR:

Away from the TV, away from the Internet. I think I have slight A.D.D., and tend to get distracted quite easily. As I write this, I’m watching a copy of Cronenberg’s eXistenZ, so you know I have a problem.

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?

CR:

Quite frankly, I wish I had written The Da Vinci Code; not because of its quality (God knows Dan Brown couldn’t write his way out of a wet paper bag), but so I could retire early. I wish I wrote Sam Savages Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, because he put into words thoughts I’ve been having for years. I also wish I wrote William Kotzwinkle’s The Bear Went Over the Mountain, for reasons I can’t quite figure out. I’d like to say Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Cat’s Cradle, but Vonnegut is too sacred.

OB:

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

CR:

I finally read Melville’s Moby Dick, so that one’s out. The standby answers are usually Ulysses or War and Peace, but they’re too obvious. I’ll opt for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, which is probably the one book every modern author should read if they want to be at all ‘hip.’ I am not hip. Not at all. Nope.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

CR:

I’m in an online blog contest to read thirteen Canadian books by Canada Day, 2008, so I’m chowing down on the Canadiana at the moment. I’m just completed Robert Hough’s The Culprits (terrific), and am halfway through Brad Smith’s Big Man Coming Down the Road (enjoyable). After that, Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring, a novel I’ve wanted to read for some time, and not simply because it’s a Canada Reads choice. Speaking of that, how do I get mentioned on that show? Anyone?

OB:

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

CR:

No, I write for myself entirely. If there’s a readership in mind, it’s people who are more or less like me, i.e. clones. Which would make a neat horror novel.

OB:

What are you working on right now?

CR:

Right now, I’m working on getting up the energy to start a new idea. Working on a book is exhausting, and I have no energy reserves to spare. After the holidays, I’m going to start the life of a monk: no distractions, no interruptions. It’s the only way to get anything done for me.

OB:

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

CR:

Do your homework. My editor once told me that she gets 5-10 manuscripts a week across her desk; that’s 500-1000 a year. And she can choose one. There is intense competition out there, and most of getting your story noticed is blind luck. It has to fall on the one desk at the one time with the one person who’s in the mood to get what you’re trying to do. That said, you can increase your chances through research into hooking up with the publisher that’s right for you. What do they publish? What have you written? Read their books; make sure that your novel is something that they would dig.

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