Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Author Interview: Larry Gibbons

Larry Gibbons
Q: What sparked the idea for your story in Unearthed? Can you remember?

A: I was driving in my truck, listening to a show on CBC about a haunted railway tunnel. There was some serendipity here because my mind had become increasingly rattled over the fact that my favourite muse wasn’t coming up with a story idea and the deadline was fast approaching.  Anyway, as I listened to the show, I began to think about when I was a youngster and a bunch of us decided to crawl into a city drainage pipe as far we dared. We knew that this dark, corrugated tunnel ran under a large cemetery, a certain formula for scaring us out of our pants. That's how my story was conceived.

Q: Please tell us: one book you've read recently, one book you're reading now, and one book on your to-read list.
A: I have just finished reading, Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe.  I have been so impressed by the depth of character created in the classic novels I have read, and particularly in Middlemarch, which I read a few months ago, that I decided to read more of the classic novels.  I was intrigued by the way Moll Flanders slipped further and further into depravity as the only way she could survive the corruption and poverty of her surroundings.

I am presently reading, The Journey Prize Anthology, by McClelland and Stewart. This book contains some of the best short fiction from Canada's literary journals. I hope to read, One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Q: What's the best/worst writing advice you've ever been given?

A: The worst writing advice I've ever received was to know my plot, setting and characters before I begin to write. To me, this is like drawing a map before I've travelled through my land of make-believe. Boring, boring, boring. Few surprises with the plot road lined with authority figures, literary specialists and yardstick-brandishing teachers all shouting out, "Don't write that way; it's not the correct thing to do. Oh, you’re so bad."

The best advice was that writing is like driving a car at night where you can only see as far as the headlights will allow. For me, this was liberating. Driving my car or truck down a dark highway, white lines blurred like ghosts in the distance, then speeding by the side of the vehicle in all their corporeal brilliance before vanishing. Taking with them dark buildings, grotesquely shaped trees, half read road signs and mysterious night forms and monsters, all fertilizer for my imagination and helping to drive the story forward.  I think this approach can draw authors into creative realms where they aren’t stifled by the need to begin with a plot, dot and jot.
Q: What are you working on now, or what's your next planned writing project?

A: Presently, I'm working on a series of short stories. I am grateful for the muse allowing me to continue working on this project. It is possible that Mr. Muse might even allow me to turn it into a novella. However, I have been sworn to secrecy as to what the stories are about. Maybe I can say this little tidbit:  they are about the residents of a town which appears not to be of this world or at least not of the world which seems to make sense to the solidly rational citizens.

Q: Have you ever read something and thought, “I wish I'd written that!”? What was it?

A: I have read endless shelves full of books, stories and poems that I wish I had written. Robert Frost's, 'The Road Not Taken', Tolstoy's, War and Peace, half of Stephen King's novels, oh hell, most of them and so many others I can and can't remember. My envy knows no bounds.

Thanks, Larry!
Larry's short story collection, White Eyes, was published earlier this year by Breton Books. Find out more at