My children have stolen my dreams in a very literal sense. I’ve lost months in the minutes and hours that Sabine and Zoey have needed me at night, their thin, butterfly-beating hearts pushed against me in the darkness.
Growing up in Waterloo, the Governor General’s Award wasn’t something I even thought to wish for.
To map the Governor General’s Award is to map both the past and the future of Canadian literature, and to be nominated for my first book is wonderful.
Ezekiel Boone’s books, starting with ‘The Hatching’ series, are meant to be big, sprawling, smart, entertaining books that are fun above all else; the literary novels written under my real name, Alexi Zentner, are certainly a little more quiet.
I’m absolutely terrified of spiders.
I grew up reading thrillers, science fiction, fantasy – you name it – and one day I asked myself if there was a reason why a fear of spiders was so common. Was there something buried deep in our evolutionary history that made being scared of spiders a survival instinct?
One of my oldest friends has a cottage on Smoke Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.
I love teaching creative writing, and I think I’m good at it, but in a different life, I could have been teaching elementary school.
There’s very little that’s comparable to seeing the spark in a student’s face when she gets something that she’s been struggling with.
I started writing ‘The Lobster Kings’ the day after I sold my first novel, ‘Touch.’
When I’m writing a novel, one of the things I do is get big poster boards. They’re actually canvases that artists use. And I keep all the characters’ names on them. If you write a big novel, there’s a lot of characters.
For ‘The Lobster Kings,’ I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash. And it makes its way into the book.
If I think of a reader while I am writing, the only reader who really matters for me is my wife. It’s most important to me that she likes what I write.
My wife has been incredibly supportive of me as a writer. Trying really hard to make sure I get the space and time I need to work as a writer and being willing to make some of the sacrifices that you have to make to live the life of an artist.
I think so much of young adult literature sort of gets ghettoized – the title ‘young adult’ makes people immediately discount it. And just like with books that get written for adults, there is plenty of young adult literature that is bad. But there is also plenty of young adult literature that is brilliant.
I get very tired of books that feel emotionally empty. I would much rather have writers err on the side of being overly sentimental than not. I think that the perfect balance is a story that moves you without being maudlin, but I don’t enjoy books that are empty of emotion and there’s no connection to the characters.
There is no simple answer for what it means to be Canadian. There are a thousand answers that come together. But part of that is that there is a national mythology.
I believe that art elevates humanity. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of that.
The worst day of writing is still better than the best day of telemarketing.
I had not expected to ever be in a position to able to say, ‘Hey, see the magazine with J. Lo on the cover? They reviewed my book inside.’
If you take a cold, blunt view of most religions, and you sort of say, ‘Well, here’s the basis for it,’ most of them sound crazy. It’s the belief that makes them real. I was interested in that question: When does a belief become a myth? When does something you believe in become just a story?
I liked the idea of being a writer more than I liked the idea of writing.
If you don’t try your hardest, and you’re unsuccessful, you always have that excuse.
As much as I love my daughters, I wasn’t happy with only being a stay-at-home-dad, and my wife encouraged me to try, to really try, at being a writer. More than anything, I didn’t want to let her down.
There is a huge tension in trying to write with small children because they demand your attention and your time with a fierceness that can be matched by nothing else, but if you are successful in writing while you have small children, I actually think that your writing is likely to be deeper than it was before.
I’ve said many times that there only two things to write about: love and death. And when you have children, you remember that the world is full of sharp corners and dangerous things, and suddenly you have these small, soft creatures, which you love in almost painful way.
My daughters are both funny and smart and lots of fun. They play lacrosse, soccer, musical instruments, like to cook with me, and are naturals in the swimming pool. Honestly, though, what I like doing most with them is eating. I’ve worked really hard to make sure they are willing to try all sorts of different foods.
While Shakespeare wasn’t the first voice in the room, in North America and Europe, he’s one of the loudest voices.
I liked Shakespeare in high school, but in university I spent a semester studying in London, and it was sort of in the middle of me falling deeply in love with literature, and I took a Shakespeare course with a professor who couldn’t imagine anything more important than Shakespeare.
If you realize early what your influence is, you can have a better understanding of what you are writing about.
The story of trying to live up to the myth is more interesting than the myth itself.