In your short story, “A Mother’s Love Never Ends,” you explored the sometimes loving and sometimes toxic relationship between Miriam and her mother. The unsettling journey forced Miriam to grow as a character. Is that what you intended for her?
I wanted Miriam to outgrow her mother, to come to the realization that her mother’s dictates are entirely arbitrary and based on some drama that has no basis in reality except in her mother’s mind. The problem is that when you finally shed someone else’s storyline, something you have been living within your entire life, what do you replace it with? That’s where I think Miriam is at the end of the story. She has to make her world anew, hopefully she is not too damaged to make it a consistently loving one.
What inspired you to write this tale? Are complex relationships something you always include in your work?
There are many things that contributed to this story. It definitely owes a nod to some of Shirley Jackson’s heroines, so many of whom have these kind of powerless relationships with their mothers and with men, and are helpless to break out of the constraints imposed on them by some inner censor. Of course, it owes a lot to my own relationship with my mother; the hallway scene is verbatim from life except that my sister was with me. Miriam is all alone. My mother isn’t sinister like Miriam’s mother, but during our childhood I had no idea what was going on or what was going to happen next. Maybe that’s why I write, to make some sort of coherent story out of my world so I’m not utterly at a loss like I was growing up. And that would answer the second part of the question, which is yes, I always write character driven stories and scenarios. To me horror is something inside us, comes from what we believe, experience, do, and how we manifest that outwardly, whether it’s becoming a ghost or going crazy. Finally, I really hate bus travel, and setting anything in the stinky claustrophobic atmosphere of a bus means you are basically in hell.
I read that you established Tightrope Books in 2005, and now you have plans to close its doors. What prompted this decision, and do you have any publishing plans for the future?
I actually sold Tightrope Books in 2015. The new owner has made the decision to close the doors rather than sell it or pass it on which is upsetting. Besides leaving many of the writers published with the press at a loss, it’s hard to see something you built be destroyed. I sold the press because I had moved away from Toronto, and it was becoming too much to do twelve to fourteen titles a year with only myself and a few contract workers all trying to connect via email and Skype. We have a grant system for small presses in Canada, which is amazing, but which becomes incredibly time consuming—you almost need someone full time just to keep up with the grants and all the reporting that comes along with it. I wanted to focus on writing and editing but was spending all my time doing administration.
I am working with two partners to see if we can come up with some sort of publishing venture that thinks outside the box a bit. We’ve had some meetings, but we still have to get the fine details down. We’ll see.
You’ve been very busy. What writing projects can we expect from you next?
I have about three novels on the go—but I am at the point with each of them where I think they are just crap and don’t want to look at them ever again. I’ve got a short story out and about, looking for its home, and I want to do another collection eventually. My publisher wants a novel next, so I feel guilty every time I write a story instead of working on the big books. Finally, I want to expand my chapbook of circus poems “The Human Cannonball,” into a full-length poetry book, but I find these days that ideas for poems become ideas for stories instead. I guess it’s hard to get that short story monkey off your back once it’s climbed up there and made itself at home.
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