Growing up in Nova Scotia, to suggest that you wanted to write books or plays was like saying you wanted to join the circus as a fire eater. So when I began writing, I assumed I’d live as a kind of monk, never own a home or support a family, and I was okay with that. Thought I had it made when I bought a car—because in a pinch I’d have someplace to sleep.
One fork in the road: in 1978 I snagged a job teaching acting for one semester at York University, at the end of which I was offered a permanent “position.” I had a decision to make: starting the following September, I could either become a teacher or I could put on a play called Billy Bishop Goes To War.
No contest, as far as I was concerned. My previous jobs had been two months as an elevator operator, three months tearing up track for the CNR, and six months selling suits for Fred Asher Stores For Men. When it came to “work,” a regular paycheque wasn’t worth risking the skull-sucking tedium that went with it.
With crime novels, as with anything I write, my most fickle audience is myself, and my greatest fear is that I’ll bore myself footless. Any other “risks” pale in comparison.
In today’s psychiatric lingo, as a child I would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and stuffed with Ritalin until I couldn’t blink both eyes at the same time. But as it turned out, in fiction and in theatre, it’s not the worst thing in the world to have the lowest boredom threshold in the room.