My novel is going to the printer TODAY. Synchronize your watches – it’ll be hitting the bookstores in ten weeks.
I had my first book interview today. Strange experience. I work for the media, so for years, I’ve been the one asking the questions, not answering them. Role reversal!
Still, it was fun to talk about these characters who’ve been making a racket inside my head for the last three years.
Here are the first five questions I was asked as an author:
Q: What is the best part of being an author?
I love that the gear is so cheap! If I wanted to be a professional snowboarder, I’d have to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment. The board, the boots, the bindings, the jacket… Pricey! But all an author needs is a pen and some paper. What does that cost – maybe $5?
Also, I never get hurt, writing books. That’s a definite plus for me. If I was a hockey player in the NHL, I’d probably get hit a lot. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to getting hit, so that wouldn’t be much fun. As an author, the worst thing that can happen is I get a paper cut.
The best thing about being an author, however, is that the job is dead easy. The alphabet only has 26 letters. So all I have to do is arrange those letters in such a way that they tell a good story. How hard could that be?
Q: What inspired you to write Ultra?
Five years ago, I did an insane thing. I entered a hundred-mile footrace. For 24 hours – all day and all night – I ran through a forest. Some runners saw bears along the route, and all through the night I heard wolves howling in the distance. It was a terrifying and exhausting experience. But when I crossed the finish line, my life had changed. I’d always thought it was impossible to run 100 miles in a day, but now that I’d done it, the whole world seemed different. I’d changed the goalposts of what I believed was possible. So I decided to try something else that I’d always thought was impossible – writing and publishing a novel. And voila!
Q: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Deciding whether or not the main character, Quinn, should win the race. For the longest time, I had him crossing the finish line first. But then I decided that he shouldn’t win; that something else – something dramatic – should happen instead. So I rewrote the ending. But then I gave the book to family members to read, and they complained about the ending. So I rewrote it again, and then again.
I went back and forth, rewriting that ending for a year. I can’t even remember anymore whether Quinn wins or loses the race. But I will say this. Most 100-mile races don’t give prizes to the winners. Usually the winner just gets a pat on the back, a warm blanket, and a bowl of vegetable soup. Almost nobody runs a 100-mile race in order to win. They do it for other, much stranger reasons.
Q: In what ways are you like Quinn, the protagonist in your book?
I share Quinn’s determination. Once I get an idea into my head, I’ll stick with it, no matter how much it hurts. That’s why I can run 100 miles in one go. Also, I love being outside, and I’m okay with being alone sometimes. I’m a bit of an introvert, and I think Quinn is too.
And finally, like Quinn, I have a really solid friend. And an amazing family that supports me – even when I do crazy things.
Q: What was your favourite book growing up?
“Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome. It’s about a group of kids who climb mountains and race sailboats and survive shipwrecks and explore the high English moors. Their parents are nowhere in sight, and the kids are always outdoors, facing the elements. My dad read that book aloud for my whole family when I was a kid. He’d read one chapter each night before bedtime, and the next morning me and my brother would race for the book so we could read on ahead.
“Swallows and Amazons” was the first in a long series, and Dad read us every single one over the course of a long, magical summer. And that’s saying something, since there are twelve books in the series, and each one is 350 pages long. Looking back, I think that experience cemented my love of reading. Dad reading those books out loud.