Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Richard Van Camp on the motivational power of Star Wars fan art

The CBC Short Story Prize juror answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Richard Van Camp is the author of the novel Night Moves. (Laughing Dog Photography )

2016 CBC Short Story Prize juror Richard Van Camp first made waves on Canada's literary scene 20 years ago with his debut novel The Lesser Blessed. His most recent release is the short story collection Night Moves

Below, Richard Van Camp answers eight questions submitted by eight of his fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Cordelia Strube asks, "What keeps you writing?"

Heartbreak with stories I'm seeing and hearing from home and in the world. Also, laughter. If I'm laughing over something, I try to throw that same spirit into a piece I'm working on. 

2. Pasha Malla asks, "Please quote one egregiously stupid criticism — either specific or general — of your writing, and address, refute or mock it."

No complaints so far. If there are, I'm too busy writing for anything that doesn't suit me to stick. 

3. Frances Itani asks, "When you have presented your work to an audience in the past, what was the question you were not expecting? The one you thought about for a long time afterward, the one you wish you'd answered differently? How would you reply to it now?"

Hmmmm. Great question: I can't think of any right now but I will say that I do answer all of my "fan mail" and that's often such a gift. It inspires me. 

4. Zsuzsi Gartner asks, "Have you ever written a sentence you think could save lives?"

I know my toughest stories like "bornagirl" [published in Night Moves] or The Lesser Blessed move people deeply. Somebody once said that books and songs are your friends — I think it was Iggy Pop — and I'm proud to create friends for people when they meet them.

5. Lawrence Hill asks, "If you could start your life all over again and writing were not an option, what work would you most love to do?"

Peace maker. 

6. Alexi Zentner asks, "Do you ever bribe yourself to write? What with?"

Oh! New fan art that celebrates Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Yes, I'm on Etsy all the time combing for rewards and treats.

7. Eric McCormack asks, "Honestly, what does your writing tell you — both the good and the bad — about yourself?"

I'm still the sensitive soul that hates bullying and suffering and I'm still the romantic filled with a force of grace.

8. George Bowering asks, "If someone publishes a book you had not finished writing at your death, is that okay?" 

Nope. The stories I've written on this side are the ones I want you to read. 

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