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Writer to watch

Writer to watch: Matthew Hooton

GG-winner Jack Hodgins wrote a winter tale for us. He also recommended Matthew Hooton as a writer to watch. Read what Matthew has to say about what inspires him to write.

"I was impressed with Matthew Hooton's first novel Deloume Road for its sensitive treatment of childhood dangers and its vivid portrayal of characters in a rural Vancouver Island setting. It was a genuine pleasure to read such a fine fiction coming out of a world I knew intimately."

- Jack Hodgins

The usual rollercoaster
by Matthew Hooton

The last time I thought about quitting I was riding the subway in Seoul, the train barreling above ground and over the Han River, the afternoon light bright after the tunnel. I'd just had an email from my agent listing UK publishers who'd passed on Deloume Road, and I remember thinking, What the hell am I doing?

This was different than the usual roller coaster of disillusionment. I was questioning why I wrote on a fundamental level, assessing ideas about writing I'd been fed in my twenties and never honestly evaluated (and which, as you'll see below, are pretty ridiculous).

Here's what I came up with:

Idea 1: I write because I have to (divine calling).
Scenario: A writer is shipwrecked, swallowed by a whale (three days), and vomited onto a deserted island, on which stands a one-room cabin containing potable water and non-perishable food, as well as a desk, typewriter, and stack of paper.

Idea 2: I write because I can't do anything else (job-wise).
Scenario: A brain floats in a jar connected by a series of electrodes to a modified computer keyboard.

Idea 3: I write because it's more challenging than other jobs.
Scenario: A man who clears land mines for an NGO in Cambodia comes home from work and tells his one-legged wife he just lost a colleague. His wife scolds him, reminding him that his father didn't slave over fiction just to....

*Mix and match scenarios for more fun!

Quick disclaimer: I get it. Writing is a low-paying, highly competitive field. By definition, it's something the planet's entire literate population can participate in. So, professional writers feel defensive and undervalued. Fine, and we are.

But we're not martyrs (at least in Canada). What I discovered that day in Seoul, and this is still true, is that I write simply because I want to. Because I love doing it.

I write with a pencil in a 13X21 cm notebook because I enjoy the feeling and sound of graphite biting into paper.

And when I'm finished a draft, I use voice-recognition software to digitize my work because I like reading out loud more than typing. And if I have a paying audience, that's a shocking privilege, and if not, I'll go back to writing on my daily commute. And guess what? I'll still find joy in it.

Matthew Hooton's first novel, Deloume Road, was published in 2010 by Knopf Canada and Jonathan Cape UK. After several years in South Korea, he now lives and writes on Vancouver Island, where he also teaches creative writing at the University of Victoria.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Matthew-Hooton-Deloume-Road/207851275442
Twitter: @deloumeroad

Photo credit for Jack Hodgins: Darren Stone
Photo credit for Matthew Hooton: Jo Hund

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set count down final date: 11/01/2014
set count up final date: 11/01/2014
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