Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Richard Todd

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Ten Questions with Richard Todd

A magazine writer and pop composer living near Toronto, Richard S. Todd is a fervent champion for those fighting to overcome personal struggles and make choices to resist the perpetuation of racial isolation. Raincloud, a critically-praised Editor's Choice selection, is his debut novel. He is also the founder of Sky Lake Entertainment, an organization dedicated to promoting literacy to the Greater Toronto Area. Mr. Todd will be selling and signing copies of Raincloud at the Toronto Small Press Book Fair on June 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

OBT:

Tell us about your book, Raincloud.

RT:

Raincloud is the story of two communities, Scanlon Creek, a typical small town in Ontario, and Sky Lake, a dedicated Aboriginal reserve. Tensions have always existed between the two communities and only get exacerbated when Aboriginal youth start turning up dead. It’s up to a mixed-race Scanlon Creek detective named Hank Gillespie to risk his life finding the killer while wrestling with his own inner demons. But unbeknownst to Hank, he has to embrace his demons to have any hope of solving the crime. A good dose of Native spirituality and a generous amount of blood too. You can’t make a good noir legend without blood.

OBT:

How did you research your book?

RT:

I did a lot of online research on Native language and culture and spoke to people who have worked in Aboriginal communities, to get a real sense of the reserves’ socio-political makeup.

I also spent a lot of time in the towns and villages that captured the atmosphere I was trying to create. I wanted to get a sense of the peoples’ place in their town and in the world. And you really discover some amazing stuff. And it all came together to make for a world you can practically smell while reading about it.

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote Raincloud?

RT:

At first I thought Raincloud would appeal to younger and middle-aged men, but as it turns out my readership is made up of mostly younger women. You never can tell.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

RT:

There’s a library in uptown Toronto I frequently write in. I also like to write sitting up in bed. Or anywhere that’s quiet so I can read my thoughts without distraction. Having a laptop helps.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

RT:

I’m not sure if this counts as a cultural experience, but the standoff in Caledonia really fascinated me. Not so much for the land issues at hand, but more for the unresolved anger on both sides. There was so much mistrust in the air I could taste it coming out of my television.

How can we resolve these issues with so much needless animosity? The history of mistrust, anger, and hate is reflected in Raincloud because we really need to address this in our own lives as well.

OBT:

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

RT:

Never Cry Wolf, Farley Mowat
My Country, The Remarkable Past, Pierre Berton
Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories and Stuff, Don Cherry

OBT:

Raincloud is self-published. What made you decide to take that route, and what do you find are the benefits of self-publishing?

RT:

A stack of rejection slips helped me decide to self-publish. I was left with a choice to leave Raincloud on my hard drive or actually see it print, so I went with the latter.

I really benefited from the hands-on editing experience iUniverse provided which vastly improved my fiction writing. I was also in complete creative control, something that should be important to any artist.

OBT:

You put a lot of effort into promoting Raincloud. What have you learned about publicity since your book has been published? What works best?

RT:

Yes, promoting Raincloud has become almost a full-time job for me but I love it. I’ve learned that “Author, Sell Thyself” should be every writer’s credo, because no one is going to do it for you.

I’ve done everything from book signings in various Chapters-Indigo stores and book festivals, addressing writers groups and public schools, book readings, submitting for reviews, and utilizing online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, my website (www.richard-todd.com) and my blog (raincloudbook.wordpress.com). Next I’m planning a blog tour. You have to get out and try everything, unless you want to go no further than having just your friends and family read your book.

For me, nothing works better or is more enjoyable than getting out and meeting readers, whether it be at bookstores or festivals. Especially when they email me later and tell me how much they enjoyed my novel. It’s a really great feeling that you’ve reached somebody.

OBT:

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

RT:

Read a lot. And stay true to yourself.

OBT:

What is your next project?

RT:

I’m currently writing my next novel, The Orphans of the Creek. It’s loosely based on my 10 years of club DJing, but the character in Orphans is quite troubled and traumatized, losing himself in various lusts to escape a horror he can barely face. Until one cool, late summer day…well, I’ve said too much already.



Read more about Raincloud at the author's website.

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