Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Rick Blechta

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Rick

January 23, 2008 -

OB:

What was your first publication and where was it published?

RB:

Knock on Wood was released in 1992 and published in Canada and the US simultaneously.

OB:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

RB:

I finally got off my duff in 2006 and got my Canadian citizenship. Being only a Permanent Resident left me still feeling like an outsider, even after 35 years. Now that I have completely embraced this wonderful country, it's subtly changed the way I write about the Canadian experience. My next novel, A Case of You (release in March 2008) certainly reflects this.

OB:

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

RB:

Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell, The National Dream by Pierre Berton, and Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan

OB:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

RB:

A small cabin in the woods, the peace and quiet only broken by birdsong and the wind in the trees. I need a comfortable chair with a small table for when I'm working in longhand, and a footstool for when I'm using a laptop. It must also have a fireplace for those chilly nights!

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?

RB:

Oddly enough, The Pillars of the Earth, but Ken Follett beat me to it. I think it's a terrific story with very memorable characters. Even after reading it well over 10 years ago, I remember the entire plot. That's the mark of a good story.

OB:

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

RB:

The Kite Runner.

OB:

What are you reading right now?

RB:

Sadly, nothing. I have a new novel on the go and it's not wise for me to read when I'm writing. I once wrote an entire chapter of a book in one day (pretty good for me), but when my wife read it over, she turned and said, "You were reading that Nero Wolfe book last night, weren't you?" She was right: my protagonist suddenly sounded suspiciously like Archie Goodwin.

OB:

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

RB:

No. But I am more than thrilled when a reader tells me that, while they don't normally enjoy crime fiction, they really enjoyed whichever book of mine they read. I especially like it when they say they want to read more. That's very gratifying to an author.

OB:

What are you working on right now?

RB:

A crime novel with an opera singer as the protagonist. This has posed some problems since the majority of people in our society are dreadfully intimidated by anything that has the word "opera" attached to it. With that in mind, I have to watch how much operatic background I put into the plot -- which can be tricky. I want to capture the flavour of working in this very specialized musical world without overwhelming readers who run for the hills whenever opera is mentioned. The story is very much about the characters, but I have to be aware of the preconceived notions many people have.

OB:

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

RB:

Writing does require talent. First and foremost, you have to be able to tell a good story. But very few of us leap forth fully formed. It's a craft that must be worked at to acquire the necessary skill to produce a polished product. And you must be willing to take criticism to be able to develop. I always tell people that I would "rather be good than right". By that, I mean that I am willing to listen when anyone tells me something negative. I may not always agree with it in the end, but I will listen carefully and seriously consider what I'm told. If it will make my writing or my story better, I follow the advice. Lastly, writers must believe in themselves. How many great books have been rejected by publisher after publisher only to turn into best sellers when someone finally recognizes the greatness of that writing?

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