Lee D Thompson is an artist in so many ways. He’s a Canadian author, musician, studied visual art and went on to be the director of Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick, mentor to a lot of writers I know and friend. If you’re ever able to attend a workshop hosted by Lee do it!
Read all of this interview to learn how intriguing, personable and approachable this Canadian author is.
1) Do you remember the exact moment when you knew you’d want to be a writer for the rest of your life?
I’d always played with the idea of writing but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties, when I’d begun to read fiction regularly, that the thought of being a writer first hit. I was walking back from a corner store one evening, actually, stepping over a curb onto a lawn when the thought first occurred and I wondered why it hadn’t occurred earlier.
2) Did fiction writing catch your senses first or was it music?
I did visual art first, and it’s what I studied (briefly) in university. I’d begun to play guitar in high school and eventually thought this is what I want to do and dropped out of university to focus on music, which meant staying in my room too much. In the end writing fit best and still does. I think writing helped my find my artistic self and afterward I was able to make music again, much more to my liking.
3) After reading S., a novel in [xxx] dreams people are known to wonder about you. Is this intentional? Do you get away a lot of hints about the real you or is it completely created to puzzle those who know you?
At a party a few years ago, just after the book was accepted for publication, I asked author Yan Martel, who’d majored in philosophy, if he thought “S.” was a fiction or non-fiction, seeing that I didn’t consciously create the scenes. He thought about it for a minute and felt it was fiction, since I chose what words to write down, what scenes to use. For me though it occupies an unnamed no-man’s land in writing, and is neither fiction nor non-fiction. The book intentionally plays with boundaries – prose poems, short fiction, wakefulness, fact and fiction – and that’s the important thing. Dreams are puzzles to be interpreted. The book is about me, yes, but it’s all seen through funhouse mirrors, and what’s distorted – those primal emotions (grief, elation, jealousy, rage, fear, etc.) – is common to us all.
4) Speaking of S., a novel in [xxx] dreams, it’s quite a different book from a typical novel and you told me, upon purchasing it, that it actually started with a concrete story line mixed with dreams. Do you plan to publish a sequel, if you will, with the awake story?
The way the book turned out was the right book, the book I’d been wanting to write but didn’t know how. There won’t be a sequel or a companion piece. Shoot me if I ever write sequel or prequel to anything.
5) In your role as director of the Writers Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB), do you find reason to release your creativity afterhours? Are you inspired by the inquiries/ members/ submissions to contests you receive?
I write in the morning, so I guess any creativity is released pre-hours. Inspiration would come simply from meeting so many writers, talking with them about writing, the challenges, the successes. Contest submissions are passed along to judges and I don’t read them in any detail.
6) In your time away from creating, what music and whose books inspire you the most? Do you listen to your own music while you write?
Most of the books that inspired me (or encouraged me to write the way I do) – books by Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Donald Barthelme and Thomas Pynchon – I read some time ago, when I started writing, and don’t often revisit them, and all but one of those authors are dead so there’s not a lot of new material either. Inspiration I’d say is wide and varied and too vague to pinpoint, though obviously for me my own dreams and any dreamlike real-life settings inspire me or make want to create something to fill that void. I don’t listen to my own music, or any music, when I write, though if I’m feeling stuck or restless I’ll often pick up my guitar.
7) Your work in progress touches on the criminal system and how expensive it is to house criminals while how inhumane it is to kill them. Does this novel clarify what your thoughts are on the matter?
In some ways it was a means to an end – a reason to put a man’s brain into a sheep – and I didn’t set out to make any grand statements or conclusions on our criminal justice system. People in power are not portrayed well in the book, but how often are they portrayed well? Essentially we have the same old problem of society dealing with the result and not the cause of criminal behaviour, a ramped-up insane version of what our government’s trying to pull over our eyes right now. So it’s an area for satire.
8) When Googling your name for more insight into my questions I found a lot of presitigous Lee Thompson’s even though anyone who meets you knows you’re one of a kind. Does having a popular name make you confident or more nervous with regards to achieving your success?
I wonder how many people are naming their children according to Google results? I include my middle initial when I write fiction, and I think there are only a couple other Lee D. Thompsons out there.
9) I did find an interview you had with fellow Canadian author Chad Pelley for Salty Ink titled Lee Thompson: Busy Man. How do you do all that you do and keep yourself organized? Is your writing and music and directorship all part of your hobby list that keeps you human?
The directorship is my job and I’m paid to do it, and most of the work I’ve ever had has come through writing, thus most of my income (directly or indirectly). Not sure if I’ve ever had a hobby… I do need to create in some way to feel I’m doing something worthwhile with my time and have trouble understanding how people who do not create (whether it’s writing, music, carpentry, car repair, website building…) remain happy. I’m not particularly well organised but have a good memory and do drop things for long periods when I feel overwhelmed.
10) You’ve written about dreams, fish, human-to-animal brain transplants, hairballs – what’s next for Lee Thompson?
Well, there are two novels that need publishers, as well as a story collection. After this novel I’ll write a few stories that have been waiting patiently and then maybe start a novel about fictional northern explorer and an even more fictional north.
11) Is there a question you’ve always wanted to answer during an interview but were never asked? Now’s your time to create the question and answer it.
Lee, what were the last words “S”, the subject of your novel, said to you. Well, I believe she said …“If you write about me I will hunt you down and kill you.”
Be sure to stay tuned as this author is on his way!
Thanks for reading,
author of Sending You Sammy, Brain Tales – Volume One and Arm Farm