Trevor Cole on the science and magic of love
Love is a perennial favourite theme for writers, and it's not hard to see why. It's a baffling and complex subject that offers up all kinds of possibilities for revealing human nature, so it provides perfect material for the writerly imagination. In his latest novel, Hope Makes Love, Leacock Medal–winning novelist Trevor Cole tackles the subject from both the neuroscientific side and the magical, mystical side. He spoke to The Next Chapter host Shelagh Rogers about his particular brand of dark comedy. This interview originally aired on December 28, 2015.
ON DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM PAINFUL EXPERIENCES
This is probably my most personal book. Every book I've written has some seed from my life, and in the case of Hope Makes Love it comes out of my own experience of coming from a marriage that failed. The main character, Zep, is trying to convince his ex-wife to fall in love with him again. I went through a period like that, where I realized, as Zep does, that he blew it, and he wishes he could have a second chance. On the other side of it, you can never create art in the moment of pain — I don't think it's possible to have enough perspective. But once you get outside of it, you can look at it, and you can make something interesting from it.
ON BALANCING DARKNESS AND HUMOUR
It seems to be impossible for me to write without any humour at all — I've tried! I think when I'm working at my best, I have a little spark of absurdity running through me. I like to have fun when I'm writing, and I like the reader to have fun when they're reading. I knew that Hope Makes Love could potentially be a relentlessly dark and intense book, but I didn't want that experience for the reader. So I found ways to inject some humour, some slapstick, some light. I've always said that life is not all dark and it's not all light. It's a mixture, and through using the two you can create greater contrast, greater drama, and also just connect with people more — because our own experiences are a mixture of absurdity and pain.
Trevor Cole's comments have been edited and condensed.