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Ian Truman was born in Montreal, Quebec, in a French-Canadian family. His dad is a welder; his mom is an office clerk. How he ended up studying English and creative writing is still somewhat of a mystery. He still lives in
Can you sum up Tales Of Lust, Hate And Despair in no more than 25 words?
What's unique about it?
I guess there are a few things that will set it apart from what we could call the “generic” mystery novel. The plot’s not linear, which, of course is nothing new to literature, but as far as I know, it is not something you see all that often in mystery. (Maybe I’m wrong.)
The second thing that makes it unique I guess is the tone. I am a huge fan of hardcore music, and if you know a little bit about it, then you know that it is not only heavy and straightforward, but also incredibly smart, with sharp lyrics. Of course there are a lot of horrible bands in hardcore, but those I like have been an inspiration to me. My style has been described as low key and raw. I like realist depictions, regardless of what I try to write. For example, the violent moments in Tales are not overdone, the protagonists are not super-heroes. You know? That one blow can leave you on the ground.
The third thing that is unique about it is the location. A lot of mystery novels take place in
New-York, LA, Washington or . I don’t know
anything about these cities, so why would I write about them. London Ottawa
(our capital) would have been far too boring of a town to write about, so I
figured, “Why not write about ?”
I know the city very intimately and I used this to great extent in the novel. Montreal
What have you done/are you doing to market it?
Everything I can.
I did a blog tour launch and worked the social networks as much as I could. The only problem was that the company I used to book the tour was mostly specialised in YA and romance. The work was very professional and the reviewers did take the time to give a proper review, but my novel is a heavy hard-boiled novel and I guess it was kind of an odd match.
Aside from that I am (still) building my social networks. I am from a working class family and we’ve had computers for as long as I can remember, but for the longest time, I believed that using Facebook and Twitter was the worst use of my free time imaginable. Things have changed nowadays. So I started my social networks from scratch and I am slowly building it up. I started a blog and try to do as many guest posts as I can. I also go to as many artistic and literary events as possible (book fairs, zine fests, theatre evenings, etc…) I printed a few paper copies of my novel to sell at these events. I don’t expect to make much money out of them, but I am still setting the foundation for my career so I’m not worried.
What are your expectations for the book?
Enough sales for a house on the lake, a downtown condo and enough money to finish all the tattoos I’ve ever wanted to have. What else would you expect?
Nah! Seriously. I really use the novel as a business card. Of course, sales and money would be nice (I like to eat as much as the next human) but for now I am really trying to get my name out there, maybe score a good publishing contract.
For a while, I felt like, “fuck agents and publishing houses,” but as I grow and as my knowledge of the industry is increasing, I figured that it’s not necessarily about agents or publishing house, but more about deals and contracts. If ever I get a deal that is to my advantage, I have learned from poverty that I sure as shit am going to take it. This is why I wanted Tales to look professional, so that people would take me and my work seriously.
What did you learn while writing it?
I have learned that I know so very little about the English language (I’m not kidding.) Seriously, I am from a French-Canadian family and I grew up in Montreal, so I grew up speaking English as much as anybody else in this city, but when I decided to write novels in English (actually, I write in both English and French but that is besides the point) it was a steep hill. I did the classes but I will be honest, I still need the help of good editors, so I tried to stay in touch with two persons from my writing classes at
. They agreed to be hired as
editors for Tales which made the
novel a much, much better novel. (Their names are Sarah Needles and Alex
Manley). Concordia University
Do you bear the reader in mind when you're writing? If so, how does that affect the way you write?
I’d like to think that I’m writing for the working and middle class. I don’t know if that has any implication in terms of the language I use. My English is by no means high-English (or even literary English I would say). I don’t mind a swear and a slur, that’s just how I speak. But as far as “how the reader affects the way I write,” I guess that I want to write something that the “proles” will either relate to or enjoy reading.
How important is talent?
I will refer prospective writers to a poem by Charles Bukowski, “So You Want to Be a Writer.”
Basically, if it’s not in you, do something else. There are plenty of professions out there that will satisfy almost anyone. A writer’s talent is based on how well he/she can adapt a certain vision of reality, transforming it into a compelling story. Talent is necessary. This might sound arrogant, but be reminded that any sport, art form, business or craft requires talent. My dad is a very good welder; my father-in-law is a very good carpenter. These kinds of crafts weren’t in me just like it wasn’t in me to play drums as well as Dave Lombardo from Slayer. That doesn’t make their talent less important than mine because I’m a so-called “author.” Writing is something that came naturally to me, so I ran with it. There’s nothing else to it.
Provide a youtube link to a song you'd like to be the title track to the movie adaptation of your book.
Granted, this would be used for the end credits, but I will admit I actually wrote and paced the final scene of the novel so that a visual adaptation would fit perfectly with this song. (Fear And Sickness by Neurosis.)
Who would you like to direct the film adaptation?
I would like to do it myself. Given a minimal budget and a bit of free time, which really is just money in another form, I would be filming right now. I took the liberty of imagining the cast and crew of the movie. If I had it my way, Sage Francis would play the Biker, Ian McFarland (of Blood for Blood) would be the DOP, Mike Ness would appear as the signer in the club. Oddly enough, I still have no clue as to who would play Sam, Josie or Alice (the three main characters).
What's the worst piece of craft advice you've heard?
“You really should find yourself a real career and just write as a hobby. That’s what it is anyway, isn’t it?”
To what extent do you view writing a business?
I take the business side of writing very seriously. Maybe it’s my background, but I literally can’t afford not to take it that way. By no means would I consider myself poor in terms of worldwide poverty, but I am still well below the average Canadian income.
I first started writing novels when my hardcore band broke off a few years ago. I had too much debt, a shitty job and a crappy apartment, so I had no money to tour (in fact, I sold my fender guitar to pay the rent.) A few weeks later, someone broke into my apartment and stole everything I owned. (I was living in Hochelaga, which is/was arguably not the nicest part of town.) It was not the best time in my life.
So basically, I started writing novels because it was cheap. I bought an old computer for $35 and a screen for $10 and started typing. I was also happy that it could run Civilization II (I’m not kidding). That was seven years ago. I have since found a better job and a good woman, but when you were force to pick up loose change in your couch to buy a “no name” can of peas for supper, that teaches you a hard lesson about life and finances.
Begging and stealing was not my thing, so I worked harder. I promised myself I would never be hungry again and I intend to keep that promise so it’s is no secret that I want to make a living out of this.
Put these in order of importance: language, character, plot, money.
Character, Plot, Money, Language. Yes! Language is last. Dead last in fact. The proper workings and appropriate grammar of the English language are not as important to me as the tone of the characters, the story I’m telling, the local accents, words and flavour of the different origins or cultural background my characters have, etc…
Which writer do you most admire?
I would have to say David Fennario. He is a playwright from working class
and I would put him way up there with Beckett in terms of talent. Of course,
they have a very different style, but the quality of Fennario’s writing is
inspiring to me. I mostly know his early work so I would recommend you look for
“Nothing to Lose”, “On The Job” and “Balconville.” Montreal
What do you do when you're not writing?
I work full time and I have a young daughter. So I pick up a lot of clothes, do a lot of dishes, go to the park. I don’t write nearly as much as I would enjoy to, but when I do it is appreciated so it keeps it interesting. Aside from that, there are a few videogames that I like to play. I train at the gym when I can. I keep busy.
How much time do you dedicate to writing? How much time would you like to spend writing?
I try to write an hour a day, regardless if it is a blog, promotion, interview or novel. That is sincerely as much as I can write on a daily basis. If the week goes well, I’ll have two or three hours on a Sunday when my daughter is taking her nap so I can drive home something like 1800 to 2000 words in a small burst. I don’t think I could top more than that per day even if I didn’t have to work on the side. Maybe (maybe) 3000 words a day, but that would mean I could put out a full size novel every two months or something.
How much time do you dedicate to promotion?
The upkeep on my social networks is something like half an hour a day. It can be more if I write blogs or interviews, but I take that as “writing” as well, given my schedule. I really do prefer events to online media, but these are more occasional.
What was the last book you bought and how did you find out about it?
I just picked up this thing called “Dog Blood” on my lunch hour by author David Moody. It was in the bargain bin and it had blood on the cover, that’s how I found it. So far it’s not disappointing.
What are your ambitions for the next year?
If I could have an agent or a publishing deal by Christmas, that would be nice, otherwise I just keep working, keep doing interviews and keep writing. I am 42000 words into my third novel and I wanted to finish the first draft around October so that I have enough time to do a re-write before I ask any colleagues to take a look at it during the Christmas brake.
What are your long-term ambitions?
I think that three books every two years is possible. I really want to make a living out of this. Hopefully, I’d make enough money to support myself.
I also carry this idea in the back of my head to re-open this thing called “L’x room” which was a youth-oriented community centre in downtown
. It closed down
a few years ago and since I spent most of my young adult weekends there, (the
place literally saved me from killing myself when I was 18) I wish I could
organize something similar. Montreal
Do you write outside of the crime genre? If not, would you like to?
Yes I do. My third novel, “A Teenage Suicide” is far from being a crime novel. It’s not a YA novel either. I don’t know yet how to categorise it beyond “Literature” but I really like it. I apply the same kind of tone, descriptions and dialogue to the novel as I would to a crime piece, but it was a somewhat different topic that was close to my heart so I really wanted to get it down on paper. I like crime and noir as much as the next guy, but every now and then, I feel like I got to do something else.
Where do you write?
In my bed (I have no office), on the city bus, in the metro (subway), at work etc… most of the grunt work is done at a local café because it is the only place I can have a table to myself. I would get absolutely no work done without a laptop. We share a two bedroom apartment me, my wife and kid (plus two cats), and we have absolutely everything we need, (including a playstation and a large television) unfortunately, we are both, Mary (a visual artist) and I, absolutely short on workspace.
Do you have any other projects on the go?
Oh! Yeah! I have plans for my next three novels. As I mentioned earlier, I am in the writing phase for “A Teenage Suicide.” I also plotted out most of my next crime novel, “Memoirs of a Hitman.” And my fifth novel, “Glory Days” will be about a bunch of hardcore kids from Notre-Dame-De-Grace here in
I’ve got this collection of Bukowskian poems I’ve been writing and losing here and there. There was a day when I wanted to put them into a book and call it “Waiting to Die.” I haven’t done it so far.
Also, if you are from
(or around) and theatre is one of your candy. Me and my wife organize a yearly
event with MainLine Theatre called, “The Mainline Gala for Student Drama.” which
gives students of the dramatic arts a chance to perform in a real theatre. This
way they can have this “industry experience” that is so fucking necessary to
get any sort of grant here in Montreal .
That’s pretty much it. If you managed to get through all of that, I am both grateful and sorry.
Take care of yourselves,