The Next Chapter·Proust Questionnaire

Craig Davidson shares what he would change about himself and what his favourite journey has been

The acclaimed novelist takes The Next Chapter's version of the Proust questionnaire.
Craig Davidson is the writer of Saturday Night Ghost Club. (Kevin Kelly/Knopf Canada)
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This interview originally aired on March 23, 2019.

Craig Davidson's stories are eclectic. From boxing to werewolves, the writer is interested in exploring the unexpected.

At the same time, Davidson isn't afraid to delve into grounded realities. His Canada Reads 2018 nominated book Precious Cargo was a memoir about driving a school bus for kids with special needs.

His most recent book is a coming-of-age thriller called The Saturday Night Ghost Club, which was on the 2018 shortlist for the 2018 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

Below, Davidson answers The Next Chapter's version of the Proust questionnaire. 

Name your favourite writer.

"Stephen King. He is certainly my biggest idol. He's certainly my biggest influence. I started reading him so early. My parents, in another era, might have tried to talk me out of reading Stephen King. But they were just happy to see me reading. They didn't care so much what the content was. And, obviously, Stephen King was so popular in the 1980s. So that influences my work deeply. I've always felt it's like the way that a baby duck would imprint on the mama, and, to a degree, it's almost impossible to disassociate myself from that influence."

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?

"How long do you have? There's probably a lot of things about myself that have caused me some level of grief or issue over the years. I'm a people pleaser, which in itself is not an issue, I don't think. But it can get you in trouble, certainly in a career way when you're chasing somebody else's ambition or somebody else's goal that isn't necessarily yours. It becomes like chasing the heat shimmer on a highway. You're not ever going to catch it. I've certainly had issues with friends, even people who I care about, who know that I simply am unable to carry a grudge."

What is your favourite occupation?

"Writing is the only thing for me, personally. Like a lot of kids, I nursed some kind of athletic hope. But at some point I realized I was a schlubby 18 year old. I couldn't jump over a pencil. I'm deeply glad and grateful that I was able to, at least to this point, make a living doing what I'm doing because I don't think that I am suited to anything else and I don't think the world is suited to having me as much else."

What is your favourite journey?

"The journey as a father. Our son is six years old right now and it is the most mystifying journey I've ever taken. It has also taught me things about love and, maybe even more importantly, fear. The way those two things are intimately knit inside the brain of a parent."

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

"I don't think perfect happiness is something that we should aspire to or even think about too much. You'll learn more about what it is to be a person, and understand what it is to be a human, through the bittersweet moments. I suppose we all want a few of those moments where it feels like everything is in order and there's a certain synchronicity to things. But, ultimately, you can't understand the sweet unless you've tasted the bitter or the sour or the tart. I've always learned more from the bitter and sour moments of my life than I probably have from the sweet ones."

Craig Davidson's comments have been edited for clarity and length.

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