Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Richard Scrimger

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Ten Questions with Richard Scrimger

Richard Scrimger talks to Open Book about reading, writing and his latest novel, Me & Death: An Afterlife Adventure (Tundra Books).

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your latest book, Me & Death: An Afterlife Adventure.

Richard Scrimger:

It’s kind of a Scrooge story, I guess. A character transformation. Only instead of a miserly old man, my hero, Jim, is a tough kid who is about to die. He gets a chance to see himself from the outside, and – maybe – to change his ways.

OBT:

How did you come up with your idea of the afterlife?

RS:

Jim is between life and death. He has no home. And where do you stay when you have no home? A hotel. In the first draft of the story it was a luxury hotel, but then I couldn’t see why Jim would ever want to leave. So I changed the hotel to a seedy run down place where he wouldn’t want to stay, and that would match his personality better.

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

RS:

I write hoping to be read by everyone! But since there are a few suggestive bits in the book – scenes of near death, near sex – I figure that most of the readers will have a mature outlook.

OBT:

Who are your literary influences?

RS:

My favorite writing reads “fast.” I like mystery writers and writers for kids. I try to channel Dashiell Hammett and Arnold Lobel, with maybe a hint of Beverly Cleary or Lawrence Block. Or Russell Hoban.

OBT:

Describe your ideal work environment.

RS:

A full coffee cup and a looming deadline.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

RS:

“Fluffy And Derek” in a teacher’s guide for Grade 1. Fluffy was a bunny and Derek was her imaginary friend – a little boy.

OBT:

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

RS:

Tough one. There’s tons of good Canadian writing. Angel Square, King Leary and A Complicated Kindness are all peculiarly Canuck experiences.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

RS:

Randall Maggs’ Night Work. And a western (I forget the title) by Robert Parker.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

RS:

Read a lot. Write regularly. Make contacts by taking courses, joining writers’ circles. Pray.

OBT:

What is your next project?

RS:

I have a book about a zombie and one about a magic camera. And I am tinkering with an idea involving an upside down world. Yes, that’s what I said.


Richard Scrimger is the award-winning author of nine novels for young readers, three picture books, three books for adults and a variety of columns, screenplays and short stories. His first children’s novel, The Nose from Jupiter, won the 10th Annual Mr. Christie’s Book Award. His latest adult novel, Mystical Rose, was a Globe & Mail book of the year. He has four teenaged children, a collection of speeding tickets and, usually, a puzzled expression. Visit Richard at his website, www.scrimger.ca.

For more information about Richard Scrimger’s Me & Death, please visit Tundra Books’ website at www.tundrabooks.com.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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