I write work exploring complex sociopolitical and philosophic issues using humour, an evolution from my early love of political cartooning. I have traveled North America as a hitchhiker from Montréal to Mexico and from Northern Canada to San Francisco, first setting out to travel in this way at age 15. The world I encountered was richly populated with rebels, street poets, sex-trade workers, shamans and saints. The conversations I have had and the interesting people I have met influence my ideas and spice my writing. I scribble out scraps of writing like breadcrumbs in a large forest, later coming back to find that they fit together to form an entire jam sandwich.
I graduated from trades college while working in a nightclub and began to work as a drywaller and framer, then training as a welder, at the same time sending in my short stories and political cartoons to magazines. I established a no-drugs-or-alcohol allowed squat in Vancouver's East Side, and wrote a play about the experience later produced at a theatre in Toronto. Others followed. My marginalized, funny and at times anguished life experiences found a voice through my pen.
I began to write more avidly, led a few workshops, and soon my cartoons and short stories had appeared in over two dozen journals, magazines and 'zines. I compiled some of my most intriguing ideas about rebellion and human existence into a book and finally signed the contract for my first novel, a fast-paced but intricate comedic romp, Steel Animals. Steel Animals is receiving positive reviews and I am incredibly grateful for all the support I have received along my journey. I continue to write short stories, blogs and poetry and have completed another novel-length manuscript with a draft graphic novel waiting in the wings.
My writing roots took form in our family bookshop. I was obliged to work in there after school. Canadian authors such as Al Purdy and Carol Shields dropped by, and I loved the mystery of not knowing who else was possibly browsing. The bookshop had the largest philosophy section in the city, so I grew up surrounded by thousands of ponderous philosophy tomes from Aristotle and Confucius to Camus and Foucault. I read Oscar Wilde, Nora Ephron, Mary Shelley, Tom Robbins, Tom Wolf and I generally devoured the endless fiction that came in boxes that people brought to trade. I could tell the good ones because they were dog-eared. From an early age I also loved illustrating and combining visual imagery with words and gags, and was fond of Thurber, The New Yorker cartoonists and the intricate cartoon etchings I found in an crumbling antique collection of Punch Magazines from the turn of the century that wound up in the shop. I have attended The Kootenay School of Art for Writing, Trent's Writing Certificate Program and the Victoria School of Writing, and hold a Certificate in Expressive Art Facilitation from Haliburton School of Art.
While I love modern humour, I have a fascination with magical realism, as found in the narrative work of Latin American writers. I am also influenced by things such as the Italian Neorealistic film movement. Finally, I am interested in the philosophy of pragmatism and the writing of authors such as Pirsig who describe an adventure designed to also explore a series of philosophical ideas. Other writers that have influenced my writing and thinking include Monique Wittig, Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison, Kathy Acker, Alice Walker, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ursula Pflug, Drew Hayden Taylor, Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende and Jorge Luis Borges. I am also inspired by poets and lyricists such as Octavio Paz, Patti Smith, Nikki Giovanni as well as innumerable contemporary Slam poets and performance artists whose work and words touch my heart.
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