Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Shane Peacock on the high-wire act of writing

The author of The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim answers eight questions submitted by eight other authors.
Shane Peacock is the author of the novel The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim. (Shane Peacock/Twitter)

For someone who says he writes because he doesn't want to have a job, Shane Peacock sure does a lot of work. The author of over a dozen books has clearly been burning the midnight oil on his latest endeavour, a creepy Gothic YA trilogy that kicks off with The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim.

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

1. Gary Barwin asks,"Do you feel that you guide the writing or do you feel the writing guides you?"

It might be cool to say that the writing guides me and there are ways in which it does, but in the end, I guide the writing.

2. Shilpi Somaya Gowda asks,"What's your best 'fuel' for a good writing session: a great night's sleep, a long walk, a strong cup of coffee or a glass of wine (or scotch)?"

Definitely a long walk — I'm in good company in that respect, with a man named Dickens.

3. Timothy Taylor asks: "How important have your other work choices — i.e. the things you've done to make money — been to your literary writing?"

Somewhat, but mostly simply because they allowed me to make money so I could write more!

4. Paul Yee asks,"Do you think it's harder to write funny stories than serious ones?"

It is harder to write funny stories, although it is more difficult to write a good, meaningful serious story than a frivolous funny one, and there are many of the latter. A great, meaningful, funny story is truly a tough one.

5. Billie Livingston asks, "What's the most peculiar thing you've done in order to research a story?"

I've walked on high wires. I also tried eating like a sumo wrestler.

6. Yann Martel asks, "What's the favourite sentence (or scene) that you've written?"

Well, there are so many great ones (just kidding)! Actually, it is difficult to choose but I kind of like the very first sentence in Death in the Air, the second book in The Boy Sherlock Holmes series: "What is it like to see a man die right before your eyes?" That kicked things off in an interesting way.

7. Robert J. Sawyer asks, "The greatest journalist of all time just may be Les Nessman of WKRP in Cincinnati, who would ask but two questions: 'Who do you think you are?' and 'What are you trying to pull?' Well?"

Excellent questions for writers, artists in general... because we have no good answers, we feel like imposters most of the time. I often tell students that I write because I don't want to have a job. We simply make up stories and, through them, try to tell the truth about life as we see it.

8. Anita Rau Badami asks, "Do you change the way you approach writing with each new novel?"

I don't change the way I approach writing with each new novel, but I do change with some novels. Each novel is like a whole new enterprise, almost a whole new art to me.

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