Today is a great day in Canadian literature as it’s the official launch day for Chad Pelley’s new novel Every Little Thing. Be sure to order now so you’re not disappointed in having to wait.
In celebration of this launch he’ll be visiting the lucky residents of New Brunswick at the following locations and dates:
MARCH 26 Fredericton Reading at Westminster Books
MARCH 27 in St. John, at Shadow Lawn Inn where for $50 you get a meal and Every Little Thing, AND enjoy the Salon Fiction Award Gala
MARCH 28th: Chad Pelley Reading / Pat Lepoidevin Playing great songs at 7pm, Café Aberdeen in Moncton
4) With Away from Everywhere already being incorporated into school programs and Every Little Thing getting rave reviews from respected authors, does the rave reception of your two books make you hesitate with your next one?
Naw. If anything, a warm reception is fuel and vindication to keep at this crazy use of my time. And I know I’m growing as a writer, because I can see it. I don’t believe in forcing growth or worrying about follow-ups. The fact of the matter is, I learn so much about writing, by writing. After writing Away from Everywhere, I knew what I did right and wrong. Every Little Thing is a stronger novel, technically, because I knew what strengths to play up and I actively eradicated some of what I saw as weaknesses in Away from Everywhere. I’ll do that same thing with every future novel, hopefully. I’ll grow a little between each novel, simply via self-education in how I can improve on tics and flaws in the previous project. Growth needn’t mean better, just different.
5) You run several websites that celebrate close-to-home artists of writing and music. Do you find Canadian authors and musicians have enough exposure to make it while staying home?
With very few exceptions, and I mean very few exceptions, there is no such thing as too much exposure. Particularly for the names I promote. There’s a validated statistic that a reader will only buy a book they’ve heard about 7 – 11 times in media. I know how hard it is to kick a book out there, so I try and help out by being 1of those 7 – 11 times a reader hears about a writer or musician I respect. More than ever, the book and music industry is being muddied by commercialism. Al lthe spotlights are shinning in the wrong places. In my opinion. Hence my compulsion to blog and help set the records straight so I can sleep at night 😉
6) You’re from Newfoundland – do you find the magical setting of “the Rock” helps you dwell in your writing and is a muse?
I think the mysticism of Newfoundland is an outside perception. It’s its own place, full of charm, but, it’s all I know of as home,so I don’t revere it the way tourists seem to. It’s no muse, but, certainly an amazing place to be an artist. Per capita, there’s more good writers here than anywhere in Canada. The joke is, “You can’t take a photo here without seeing a writer in the background.” And they’re all uncommonly supportive of each other. I’ve benefitted from that kindness. The kind of peer support you get here trumps the artistic community camaraderie anywhere else, and that’s not me saying that – it’s people who have moved here, and who’ve been taken into the thriving arts community here.
7) You facilitate a creative writing course at Memorial University; do you feel writer’s are born or bred? Do you take any inspiration away from the students of this course? Have you ever felt jealous of any particular student or story idea that emerged?
FacilitateD. Past tense. But yes. And fond jealousy of the work of others is my favourite reaction to a piece of writing. Nothing inspires me more than the flair of another writer’s work.
To answer the first question, I think writers become writers out of nowhere. At least that was my experience. There’s some spark in our DNA that gets switched on my something we’ll never understand. The need to capture things in writing, I mean. George Orwell called it a mental illness. I don’t disagree. It’s not something everyone feels compelled or impassioned to do. I also believe writing is just like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stonger it gets. No one starts out as good as they end up. So, we’re born with a predisposition to want to write, and if we exercise it enough, we get stronger at it. I certainly have.
8) On your blog (http://chadpelley.wordpress.com/) it mentions you sell photography. Do you have a favourite place to capture in a picture and for words?
My mother has a second home in a small town called Port Blanford. It shares a bay with Terra Nova National park. It’s my favourite place on earth and part of Away from Everywhere is set there, simply because I know the place well (and wrote most of it there). In the novel I’m writing now, it’s Port Blanford I’m picturing as I write. It’s not the most picturesque place in Newfoundland, but it’s the most calming place on earth. Time quite literally moves slower there. So I get more writing done. I can write 15 horus a day there and it feels like a dream, not at all laborious, and purely relaxing.
According to the number of photos on my computer, and what sells the best, the most picturesque place in the world is Gros Morne National Park, on our west coast, 12 hours from where I live. It’s as much a cluster of towns as a park. I plan on retiring there. It’ll break your heart to leave it, if you ever go. I feel bad for tourists who spend al ltheir trip in St. John’s.
9) Any advice for the Chad Pelley of 10 years ago? And, of course, the cliched question of: Do you have any advice for emerging writer’s in Canada or beyond who are discouraged by the bleak financial stability of arts?
Only that if you’re in the arts for money, you’re in the arts for the wrong reason. Art never was meant to enrich your pockets. Just your life. And money should never be what buys you happiness anyway. For me, writing is what gives my life substance, passion, and purpose, in a world of perfunctory obligations: paying mortgage, bills, and keeping the fridge full and dishes clean. I’d go pretty crazy if I didn’t have something that was all mine. I mean, I respect the nurse or mechanic who loves their job, but, if they weren’t filling that role, someone else would. But me, my writing, no one else wrote my books but me. It’s oddly gratifying when someone says, “good job,” and much moreso than when a boss says “good job” for an article or ad someone else would’ve done if I wasn’t working there.
I think the naïve new writers out there have this attitude that “writers always joke there’s no money in it because they’re not as good as I’ll be.” Fact is, 10 of the writers I admire most, and write because of, all have dayjobs. They’ve also won dozens of awards.
Advice for the Chad Pelley from10 years ago? Way to go, punching through all the rejection. Most acquiring editors these days have got a lot to learn about what Canada really wants to be reading. As well, it’s a numbers thing. There’s 10,000 Canadian writers submitting 10,000 books a year to publishers, who only have the capacity to publish maybe 200 books. Getting published in that environment’s about as easy as winning the lottery.
10) In both novels your ability to express the emotions of each character – no matter the personality, gender, background, etc – is astonishing. Do you write out a character map beforehand or have you met these characters before? Share a bit about your writing process.
Well, I think every writer has a different goal. Some value an original story or an entertaining plot. For me, as a reader and writer, I can only care about the story at hand if I’m feeling what I’m reading. I want my readers going through what my characters are going through – I want them having a vicarious experience through my fiction. Otherwise, I’ve failed. Otherwise, it’s just another book, and one that lacks substance. I don’t do plot or character maps, I start with a scene and never know where I’m going until I get there. That ability to convey my characters’ turmoil you mention is what seems to stand out to every reader and critic. It’s a product of many, many diligent edits and re-writes to make sure every sentence in every scene is sharp enough to hook a reader and reel them into the story. Because a story without emotion is about as engaging as a person without emotion. Imagine going on a blind date and having no connection with the person. A book’s the same thing, you can just sit there and yammer on, you’ve got to make them feel something, you’ve got to make a connection with them.. You’ve got to make them care about you. It’s got little to do with who the character is, as a person, so much as how the character is feeling, exactly, spelled out in brief but evocative prose that we can all relate to, since we all share the basic human emotions. I’m never satisfied with my own writing, so, digging deep for that language is easy for me. I appreciate it when someone calls it a talent, but truthfully, it’s just the product of hard work.
11) It’s been said that you’re an author who would rather write songs. Is this still true? What major differences do you see? Do you dream of writing a song for a particular individual or band someday? If so, who?
I simply find picking up my guitar and playing it more gratifying than picking up a pen and writing. It’s literally louder and a more involved process. I can also write an album a month, but never a novel in a month. But hey, I’m not much of a singer or drummer, so I don’t take the home recording seriously. The writing I do, I’m dead serious about it, and that’s kind of corrupted my enjoyment of it, to some degree. So I’m happy to keep the music as fun hobby.
It’s gotten me gigs writing lyrics. That was very fun. But I’m not interested in writing songs for others, I don’t think. I can’t really respect a musician who can’t write their own songs. I mean, I understand that the radio wants a good-looking package with a stellar voice, but, it’s the person who wrote the song that belongs on the magazine cover. Not the kid who walked into a studio and took orders at a microphone. There’s no such equivalent in the other arts, you know?
12) With Away from Everywhere being adapted to film, are you thrilled or terrified?
Thrilled. Here’s these 3 amazing, passionate, well-respected people, giving years of their lives and more than a million bucks to something I wrote. AND, they want me to feel a part of the process. It’s amazing, gratifying beyond words, and I could not appreciate their interest more than I do. Also, I like the structure the screenwriter is using. I wish I’d thought of it, actually. As a movie tends to do, his vision for how to tell the story clips out filler.
What was the most compelling part of this novel for you as the author? As a reader?
In both Away from Everywhere and Every Little Thing, it’s those rare moments when you absolutely love what just happened on the page and how you worded it. The little breakthroughs. A novel is written in 5,000 two-thousand word bursts, and sometimes those two-thousand word bursts surprise me so much I’m impassioned enough to try for another.
The most compelling part of Every Little Thing for me was “The Pond Scene” in chapter two. Though, everyone talks about the rooftop scene with Cohen and Allie like the whole novel revolved around it. I guess it did. Them bonding that night set every crazy thing to follow in motion. Although, for me it was what happened on the pond that did that.
Thanks for answering these for me, Chad and congratulations on such a successful book and launch once again!
And thank you for reading,
Sarah Butland author of Sending You Sammy, Brain Tales – Volume One and Arm Farm