From a young age I showed promise in writing and poetry, and did well in school. Even in grade five I used to draw and write stories for my own comic books and post them on the bulletin board in class. When I got to high school, I began to read voraciously, and though I failed my first academic English course, I took continually more advanced courses and got higher and higher grades in them. I was hopeful to attend University and study English, but before I finished school I was stricken with a severe breakdown and had to be hospitalized where I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. From that point, family and friend relationships broke down and I ended up sort of drifting until I signed up for Flying School in Vancouver, BC. In the middle of this training, I took off for the US with a friend and tried to join the US Army as a helicopter pilot. All of these adventures are detailed in my memoir, which covers my life from the age of 13 to 21 which was the point at which I decided I had to stay in one place (I had returned to Edmonton near my home town and where my parents lived) and I took treatment for my disorder and began to write seriously. I spent some years just studying and writing poetry and then moved on to short stories, and my book, “Through The Withering Storm” is actually partially short stories I wrote and collected at that time. Now, since I turned 30 I have been living in an assisted-living house for males with Psychiatric Disorders and life has gone quite well. I landed a great job doing labour work/stage hand/security work for the stage and screen Union, IATSE. I have seen many concerts, worked closely with some big stars, and made enough money to continue writing and self-publishing my books, which have already paid for themselves in sales for the most part.
1. How did you come up with the title of your book?
Well, I wanted something that would convey that in the book I went through something that eventually ended and got better, though left a person still kind of ravaged and very changed after going through it. These were of course my mental health problems and mental hospital admissions. The word ‘withering’ I borrowed from a comic book I used to really love reading about a World War II Tank haunted by a Civil War General and I liked how it sounded.
2. What is your writing environment like?
I do a great deal of my writing in the dining room of the house I share with two roommates. When I lived on my own and simply didn’t have enough space to sit down and comfortably write, I would pack up my netbook and head to an all-night restaurant nearby and sit down and not get up until I had at least 3,000 words. The only other places I write is when an idea for a poem strikes me and I end up grabbing a receipt or other document or if I’m lucky a notebook and writing wherever I may be with whatever I can scrounge.
3. What is your favorite quote? Why?
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” It’s from the start of the 23rd psalm which I find to be some of the most beautiful words of joy and instruction in literature today or any day.
4. How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
Well, I was brought up to love reading and books, and though when I was younger I felt that if I really was smart like my teachers told me (I was in a special program for gifted children in school) I should do something for the world like become a scientist, but later in life when such things seemed impossible due to my mental health issues, I thought writing would be a good thing to ‘fall back on’ so to speak. It turned out to be something I think has given me more joy and personal fulfillment than anything I have otherwise attempted.
5. What inspires you to write?
I try not to write when I’m inspired, though often a fresh idea or a new take on how I’m writing something will hit me. I try to write on a regular basis, and cultivate an ability to write quality content no matter how I may feel or how my day has gone. Still, a lot of my poems are about love, and many of those about unrequited love.
6. What do you consider the most challenging part about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Having to exist in a vacuum, being only words on a page to most of the people who read what I write. I used to think about this a lot and it left me feeling really lonely, but lately I have been getting into poetry readings and I have also done a number of regular book signings and have met and been reunited with many people.
7. Did you learn anything while writing this book? If so, what was it?
I learned that if you work long enough and hard enough at something you can accomplish even what seems to be impossible. My book, “Through The Withering Storm” went through so many revisions, it went through times when I had felt it was completely lost and that I would never write again, then one day I went to visit an ex-girlfriend and she gave me a ragged copy of the book she had saved for me and it was born anew. The written word is a really powerful thing, I think that’s the second thing I learned.
8. What have you done to promote this book?
A number of print, Internet and radio interviews, a lot of book signings and a blog tour before this.
9. What are some of the best tools available today for writers?
A computer with a proper word processor is essential when it comes time to submit or even self-publish your work. Other than that I have always felt that you need to get out and really experience life before you write about it, but many young authors have proven me wrong in that one.
10. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I think I would like to say something that was told to me. I had thought for some time that my book would start off as a huge hit and I could quit my job and become a full-time writer. I learned that writing is done for many other reasons, it really means something to me when a tired and aging parent comes to me for advice about their adult child who is mentally ill and they worry what will happen to them when they get too old to take care of them. I am able to give them advice and encourage them to read my book and give them my email in case I can help them. It’s for people like that who never stop caring despite going through so much that I write my books for, the hope that somehow my words can make a difference for someone.