Writing

An Interview with Local Author Lawrence Verigin

seedofcontrolTell us about your book, Seed of Control

Seed of Control is the award winning sequel to Dark Seed. In Seed of Control, ex-journalist, Nick Barnes and his group figure out that the plot they discovered in Dark Seed is only a part of a much bigger plan, devised by some of the most powerful men in the world. These men and their corporations see themselves as the stewards of humanity and know what’s best for the world. However, they are self-serving and operate on power and greed.

Nick, with the help of scientists and an ex-member of the controlling society do everything they can to prove the plot to…(don’t want to give away the story)…while being mercilessly pursued by the security team of the power elite.

The story takes the reader from San Francisco, to Seattle and then onto Vancouver and Deep Cove. From there they have to escape to Paris and end up in Burford, England.

The third book in the trilogy, Beyond Control, will be published in the fall of 2018.

Lawrence VeriginWhy do you write?

I began writing a book as something I wanted to complete off my bucket list. Now I write because I love to create stories from nothing. There is so much satisfaction to be derived from writing and writing and writing, and ending up with a 100,000 word story that didn’t exist before I created it. Then, I really enjoy editing and polishing the manuscript to the best of my ability, at that moment. Also, it’s interesting to see how my writing is progressing with each new book.

In the end it’s gratifying to hear from readers who said they enjoyed the books and get their interpretations.

My goal is to delve into socially relevant subjects in an entertaining, fast paced form, with the hope of giving readers perspective that they may not have had before as to what’s going on.

writingDescribe your first ever piece of writing

I think I was in grade 5 and decided one rainy winter night that I was going to write a book. I wrote a page and a half and realized it was going to be too much work and put it away.

It wasn’t until I was 35 that I decided to learn how to write well enough to publish my work…or fake it to seem like I knew what I’m doing. That took 12 years.

NSWAI’ve read your book.  What should I read next?

I’m assuming you read Dark Seed too and you have to read something before Beyond Control comes out. I would suggest deviating from the best-seller lists and looking for books from local and less known authors. They don’t have the backing of the big publishers (yet), but their stories are quite often just as good and sometimes better.

Savour by Jackie BatemanWhat local authors do you love?

I’m biased to the two authors I was with at the North Shore Writers Festival panel this year – Jackie Bateman and Alexander Boldizar. Also, even though I’m not typically a science fiction reader, I’m currently reading Virtues of War, by Bennett Coles and really enjoying it.

sigmaWhat is the best book you’ve read so far this year?

All of the Sigma thrillers by James Rollins are great. However, so far this year the best books I’ve read are Stillpoint, by Colin Mallard and In Search of Sticks, by Randy Kaneen – both writers from Vancouver Island.

Where can fans find you?

My website is: www.lawrenceverigin.com and my e-mail is: lawrenceverigin@gmail.com

 

Thanks, Lawrence!

If you are a published local author who would like to be interviewed for The Top Shelf, please be in touch!  Email me at plesku@cnv.org

-Patricia

An interview with local author Alexander Boldizar

Boldizar Jacket Phot 5x5x300dpiTell us about your book, The Ugly.

It’s the story of Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth, a 300-pound boulder-throwing mountain man from Siberia whose tribal homeland is stolen by an American lawyer out to build a butterfly conservatory for wealthy tourists. In order to restore his people’s land and honor, Muzhduk must travel to Harvard Law School to learn how to throw words instead of boulders.

Boldizar - The Ugly Cover front page only as JPGIt’s a satire of law and society. At its best, it sat at the #2 spot in Amazon’s “dark humour” category between Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, and it’s been generally treated as humour, which has been somewhat surprising. It’s currently a finalist competing against the founder of The Onion for the Indies humour “Book of the Year” prize—but the humour is sort of an accidental by-product. I saw it more as an attempt to create existentialist fiction for the modern era, with the strongest debt to writers like Kafka, Musil and Borges. But I also wanted to make it fun.

If I may be forgiven for quoting a review that picked up on this side of the novel, William Morris, the Emmy-nominated writer for NYPD Blue, wrote in the Buffalo News that “Like a boisterous Borges ignoring the delete key or an angry Celine forced to write in a language he hates, Alexander Boldizar plays with our minds by mixing fact with fiction in The Ugly… Borrowing from every fabulist he knows he turns Conrad’s Heart of Darkness on its head. Kurtz’s “horror” has become Boldizar’s “Ugly”… It’s as if the Harvard Lampoon turned on itself…Kurtz has returned from the jungle and the horror is our institutions.”

I guess any book about the horror of our institutions has to end up absurdist and funny.

kafkaWhy do you write?

I love seeing things from odd angles, simultaneously from the outside and the inside, like a cubist painting that never quite fits together. Kafka once wrote to his father that “Life is not a jigsaw puzzle.”

Writing gives me the opportunity to flesh out crazy perspectives, mismatched puzzle pieces, and crash them into each other and see what happens.

slovakiaDescribe your first ever piece of writing.

I had an intense dream when I was 12, one of those seminal dreams that you remember for a lifetime, that I turned into a short story immediately upon waking up. The key to the story was a passphrase to get out of a trapped situation. I was born in Slovakia and had been in Canada four years by then, but still had frequent dreams growing out of our escape and the six months we spent in a refugee camp. The passphrase was in Czech: Strch prst zkrz krk. It means “Stick your finger through your neck.” It’s a complete, grammatically correct sentence without a single vowel.

herringI didn’t write before that, and nothing after until university, where I wrote for the Red Herring (McGill’s version of the Harvard Lampoon). But it’s remarkable how well Strch prst zkrz krk foreshadowed my entire writing career. Though I do try and use vowels when writing in English.

castleI’ve read your book.  What should I read next?

The Ugly is not the lightest book, and it was inspired by novels that took some work to get through but have stayed with me for decades. If you enjoyed it, then the books I’d recommend are ones you’ve probably already read. The Castle, by Kafka, is probably my favourite book of all time. The Man Without Qualities by Musil is a close second. The Good Soldier Svejk by Hasek. Rhinoceros by Ionesco. Anything by Bohumil Hrabal. Radetzsky March by Joseph Roth. Independent People, by the Icelandic writer Haldor Laxness—the main character there has some similarities to Muzhduk. I remember feeling the sheer weight of the book, of the Icelandic winter, while reading it, but twenty years later I still remember the entire novel. It’s an amazing book.

If what you liked about The Ugly is mostly the humour, then anything by Heller or Vonnegut. Or, something that had never crossed my mind until multiple reviewers made the comparison, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

jjleeWhat local authors do you love?

Depends on the genre, I guess. I recently met JJ Lee at a North Shore Writers Association workshop, and his The Measure of a Man is great. If you like serial-killer thrillers, Jackie Bateman is here on the North Shore, and I really like the way she cuts against the formulas at just the right moment. And I have a young son and was very happy to discover Michael Kerr’s riffs on classic fairy tales. I actually discovered his The Nervous Prince and Other Stories thanks to this blog, so thank you on behalf of both my son and me!

oveWhat is the best book you’ve read so far this year?

This year? Probably A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Ove is a great, beautiful curmudgeon, and the book is a perfect balance between laughter and tears assembled with a very light touch.

libraryhallWhere can fans find you?

My website points to all the various events, news and social media, but I’m most active on Facebook and Goodreads. I’m also trying to figure out Twitter, @Boldizar, though there I keep getting distracted into sending nasty tweets to Trump. The Ugly is in all the usual places, Indigo-Chapters, Amazon, and the North Vancouver City Library. Just this week I found out that it’s being translated into Czech—I wonder if it will end up in Prague’s Klementinum library? I love libraries, and that’s one of the most stunning in the world.

Thanks, Alex!

If you are a published local author who would like to be interviewed for The Top Shelf, please be in touch!  Email me at plesku@cnv.org

-Patricia

An interview with local author (and NVCL staff member) Michael Kerr

MK-InternetPhoto CroppedTell us about your book, The Nervous Prince and Other Stories.

Well, my book is a collection of short stories, each of which is a modern retelling of a classic fairy tale. I’ve played with point of view – Rapunzel becomes the hairdresser’s story for example – and give lots of allusions to modern considerations such as having Hansel and Gretel search out carbohydrate treats in the forest because their caregiver has put them on a Paleo diet. You might think these kind of twists would go over children’s heads, but that’s partly the point; parents often have to read stories to their children over and over, and I thought the adults should get some amusement out of the deal as well. Besides, children are surprisingly sophisticated in some ways, and often understand more than we adults give them credit for. So they are children’s stories, but geared to an adult audience as well. I think you can tell when you read my book, that I had a great deal of fun writing the stories.

41Q+Z8fVfsLWhy do you write?

There’s something really satisfying about working on a story and having it come together. It’s time-consuming, of course, and I don’t have a lot of time… But as I said, it I get a lot of pleasure out of it. I also really enjoy being part of a writing community and sharing things I’ve been working on. It’s great to see other writers’ works in-progress too and see how they have solved issues and dilemmas with the craft. Plus (at least if people read my work) I get to be part of the cultural conversation we’re all having as we march through life.

hardyDescribe your first ever piece of writing.

I wrote some poems when I was very young, and then in primary school I decided to write a mystery. I think it was grade 2 or 3. I had been reading Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and was certain I could pull off something exciting like that. I wrote in one of those saddle-stitched scribblers. I don’t remember the plot, but the bad guys were caught in the end.

boyindressI’ve read your book. What should I read next?

That’s a tough one. If you’re a younger reader (or parent who wants something with a bit of depth to the fun) I’d suggest David Walliams’ The Boy in the Dress, or Mr. Stink. Another ‘children’s’ book I read recently – one that I just loved – is The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I don’t think I can say enough about how great the Bradley book is. If you’re looking for an adult book that is light and amusing (but with a real human touch) you might like something by Alexander McCall Smith –  The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, or The 44 Scotland Street books.

couplandWhat local authors do you love?\

Douglas Coupland is pretty great. And at the North Shore Writers’ Festival, I discovered a new local writer, Alexander Boldizar, who has a rare talent. I haven’t finished his book, The Ugly, yet, but he has a real gift.

suitableWhat is the best book you’ve read so far this year?

Hands down, it’s A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I reread it this year and it is just so amazing. When I finished, I carried around those characters for days. It’s a 1,500 page novel, and I found myself thinking it was just too short. Thankfully, Seth has written a sequel of sorts, A Suitable Girl, which is supposed to be released next year. I can’t wait.

Where can fans find you?

I’m a Goodreads author, so I have an author page there. I’m also on LinkedIn. But I’m afraid I’m not terribly active in the social media sphere (I don’t think I could market my way out of a wet paper bag). Twitter would work, I suppose – I’m @NVCLMichael

Thanks, Michael!

If you are a published local author who would like to be interviewed for The Top Shelf, please be in touch!  Email me at plesku@cnv.org

-Patricia

 

Calling All Writers… it’s NaNoWriMo!

nonawrimo

Apparently everyone has a book in them. But can you write that 50,000 word book in one month? That’s the NaNoWriMo challenge.  Need some help and/or inspiration? We’ve got you covered!

passionfornarrativeA Passion for Narrative, by Jack Hodgins

Canadian writer and teacher Jack Hodgins offers advice, examples, and exercises to help you develop your narrative skills – both writing it, and reading it.

From Where You Dream, by Robert Olen fromwhereyoudreamButler

Butler is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, and this title is a series of lectures that capture his approach to writing, which he teaches in his creative writing class – also known as “Literary Boot Camp,” due to its (and Butler’s) intensity. His method is very prescribed, and some have described it as a bit dogmatic, but his advice has nevertheless been invaluable to many aspiring writers.

writingadviceUltimate Guide to Writing Advice, by signature-reads.com

Or, if those titles are a little too weighty for the approaching end-of-the-month deadline, try the Ultimate Guide to Writing Advice. It’s a free 23-page eBook from Signature Reads, featuring tips on creating an effective writing routine, banishing writers’ block, and insights from 12 award-winning authors.

Looking for help writing a specific genre? Try one of these:

writing

Writing Mysteries, by Margaret Lucke

Writing Romance, by Vanessa Grant

Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, by Crawford Killian

Writing Historical Fiction, by Rhona Martin

Or, check out our Lynda.com resource for professional video tutorials to help you write, produce, and publish your book! Lynda.com has thousands of video courses and tutorials on a wide variety of creative, business, and technical topics, taught by industry professionals (who are also awesome teachers!). Lynda.com is accessible for free, from home, with your library card (to North Van City residents only though!).

Log in to Lynda.com through nvcl.ca first, and then try one of thlynda_blog_badgeese courses:

 

And what are you going to do after you’ve finished your 50,000-word masterpiece? Get some help navigating the publishing and self-publishing worlds:

selfpublishbootcamp     writingebook     publish    publishamazon    perfectbound

 

 

Also, if you just need some quiet, dedicated writing time during NaNoWriMo, there are even local write-ins you can attend. The closest one to us here on the North Shore is our friends over at Vancouver Public Library Central Branch – check out the sessions they’re hosting here.

Good luck, and happy writing!
Kat