Interview with Jim Read

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I ever read was Spot Sees Jane. Spot was a dog and Jane was the pretty girl in the row next to me who had bright blue eyes and black bangs and knew the answers to everything.
When did you first start writing?
My last year of high school. I had an English teacher who got us to write a poem. I did. It had something to do with a beach and the tide.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and I grew up there for awhile. I grew up a little more in Kirkland Lake in North Ontario, a gold mining town that had run out of gold. I was still growing when our family moved east. There was my wandering period that after a few years brought me back to the Maritimes. I'm living in Toronto now.

Displacement, a sense of loss, yes there's that. A sense of place or a nostalgia for a place is very much a theme for much of what I write.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There is a real opportunity with Indie publishing to strike a fair deal with my readership. I have these great stories. The pricing is affordable.
Describe your desk
It's a simple, uncluttered platform. Very small, but with room for my elbows. The chair is important. I have a good chair that I can elevate with some sort of a magical air device. The magic lasts for a day or so and then I have to pull on the magical lever. There's an incantation that came with the chair but I've lost it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
A Farewell To Arms. It was the best thing Hemmingway wrote. It is a simple love story, told in plain language. The economy of the narrative nevertheless conveys a deep emotional impact. There's a Brazilian author, Jorge Amado. I've like everything he's written but particularly, Tieta. Amado is a smorgasbord, with robust characters and vivid descriptions. His plots are models of irony. I would recommend anything by Mordecai Richler, but particularly Joshua Then And Now. Richler's comedic sensibility is relentless. Two Pints, by Roddy Doyle. Doyle's dialogue is unbeatable, his flawed characters completely believeable . Rounding up the top five how about a Curtain of Green, by Eudora Welty. Ms. Welty is a master of short fiction.
Who are your favorite authors?
I don't have favorite authors so much as favorite books; A Farewell To Arms, for instance. There are certain parts of books that I re-read, Molly Bloom's soliloquy, The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. I've read just about everything by Elmore Leonard and Mordecai Richler. It's hard to put down a book by Roddy Doyle once you start. The Color Purple and As I Lay Dying are two books that moved me deeply as did the Diary of Anne Frank. It simply ends one day and it is as chilling a denouement as I've found in any book.
What do you read for pleasure?
Lately I've been reading cookbooks that create a vivid narrative of place and culture. Mourjou, by Peter Graham is just such a book. Mourjou is in the Auvergne region of France.
What do your fans mean to you?
You mean my readership? I thinks the answer to that is pretty obvious.
What are you working on next?
Several things. My Blog, A View From Parkdale, has risen from the ashes with a harrowing report from Uganda. I'm editing a few short stories and working on a new novel set in a lunatic asylum in the late nineteenth century.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read as much as I can. I try and balance my reading between fiction and non-fiction. I've recently finished Lie-Spotting by Pamela Meyer. It's somewhat depressing to learn that we are lied to as much as two hundred times a day.

I've recently taken up golf again. The game is a gentle form of self-flagellation developed by an obscure sect of Cistercian monks in the mountains of northern Italy, not in Scotland as we've been led to believe by Robin Williams and other authorities.
What is your writing process?
I don't mean to sound trite, but I write. It's a simple as that. I think it's important to write everyday and I do that for the most part. It's also important to separate yourself from your vocation, whether it's a walk, or a trip to the gym, or a stamp collection. It's also important to write with a fresh mind. Morning is best for that. Light is important and my writing space is filled with natural light. Afternoons are for editing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Princess of Ireland is about an Irish peasant who comes to Canada on a coffin ship. Her family dies of cholera on the voyage. Being unnaturally fair she's taken under the ship Captain's protection. Upon arrival she's sold to the madame of a hotel / brothel is the lower part of the City. The Abbess, as she's called, tutors her in English and other skills. A deal is hatched between the Abbess and a wealthy merchant and the girl is married off at the age of sixteen. The story opens with her dramatic incarceration in a Lunatic Asylum at the age of 47 in December of 1883.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm very much with Camus on this one in his eloquent essay, The Myth of Sisyphus. Camus regards a man whose task it is in life is to roll a heavy stone up a steep hill only to see it tumble back down again. In the moment when everything seems hopeless I realize that Sisyphus as he retraces his steps to the bottom of the hill is a free man. His dignity arises from his awareness. Writing to me is about being aware, of being alive to my limitations, my expiry date, and having the determination to carry on. Writing allows me to express my 'sense of humour' odd as it might seem.
Published 2013-12-05.
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Books by This Author

Dispatches From The Belleisle And Other Stories
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 50,480. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
Previously published and now collected in one volume the characters in the twelve narratives that comprise Dispatches From The Belleisle And Other Stories are completely believable, compelling and entertaining. From picturesque Belleisle Bay to the frozen expanse of the Canadian north Dispatches rewards the reader with lively action and a genuinely robust serving of comedy and drama.