Tuesday, February 7, 2012




Thank you for allowing us to interview you Edward. I found the fact that you backpacked the world and actually lived in Australia fascinating. Can you tell us a bit about the places you saw and some of the things you have done in your lifetime?
At 19, I left my hometown in Welland, Ontario to visit Australia. I quickly ran out of money so it was off to work I go. Roaming from job to job and place to place, it took over 14 months until I could leave the country to return to Canada via Asia on the overland Hippie Trail from Oz to the U.K with a few days in the U.S.S.R. (this short story is on my website). The best part of Asia was meeting Gloria on a freighter in the South China Sea from Jakarta to Singapore. We married several years later. Our honeymoon in Grenada was memorable for the revolution and overthrow of the island, the original revolution, not the Ronald Reagan invasion. We saw Maurice Bishop, the revolution leader who was later killed. We were in Cuba when Fidel Castro shocked the people announcing he was stepping down as leader. After three children and a challenging 32-year career as a fire rescue officer, I am semi-retired and concentrating on writing, travelling, fishing, and drinking rum. I played drums in a big band for eight years, snorkeled many reefs, swam with sea turtles and a marlin, traveled Canada coast to coast, and climbed the Great Wall of China. Last winter my wife and I spent the winter in S.E. Asia and experienced many UNESCO sites including Angkor Wat in Cambodia. S.E. Asia was a real history lesson for us as the people have suffered through decades of war. Buddhism claims to be a religion of peace and harmony, but they're no better or worse than everyone else at killing. I've sold several travel articles, one of them winning a competition and a great prize.

After seeing your list of occupations I can hardly think of anything you haven't done! What I want to know more about though is the freelance astronaut thing. What in the world... or should I say universe?

The list of my occupations you read was actually a short list. I did other things but for short stints. About the freelance astronaut thing; as a firefighter, I figured I could handle floating around the space shuttle and keeping the crew in good spirits because I've worked long hours with a diverse crew. I think firefighters would be the best crewmembers for a long trip to Mars due to their tolerance and spirit. I'll have to take back my astronaut application because since NASA axed the shuttle program the only way to get into space now is via Russian technology. I've flown on an Ilyushin.

Now let's talk about your novels. There is no doubt what your inspiration behind them were, but can you tell us a bit about the writing process and some of the characters that we may find in them?

Writers block doesn't exist for me. The writing process has always come easy and the more I write the better I get at self-editing. I can give you a few pages on anything at the drop of a hat. My writers group has helped me immensely and we've grown together. Editing is where the real work is; fashioning good prose and flow with no speed bumps. I do a rigorous self-editing before I show my work to anyone.

My firefighter character Gerry Ormond is not a Rambo/Die Hard type. Readers can relate to him because he's just a man caught up in plausible circumstances. In Old Flames his present and future are put in jeopardy by his criminal past. As a chief in Gerry's War he's thrown into a bad situation where rectifying it may get him killed. Characters in my children's writing are bullies, dirty cops, ex-cons, a gypsy woman, a rink-rat, a mean old man; all sorts of quirky characters. My favorite character is Archie Crane, my protagonist in Archie's Gold.

What are some of the things you've seen and done as a firefighter and has there been many times you've been seriously close to a life threatening situation?

Recoveries and rescues. Doing CPR in the back of an ambulance while slamming side to side as it speeds to the ER is an experience. Fires and tragedies and heartbreak. Fear and death. Vehicle extrications and maimed bodies. Fire station tours. Industrial accidents tearing limbs. Pet resuscitations. Heart attacks and fire deaths during Christmas. Suicides. Fundraisers. The people I've met in my career were victims and patients, likely having the worst day of their lives. As a firefighter the job was challenging enough, but as an officer it was an entirely different process. I say a process because command and control of a chaotic situation is just that. Stress and fear was balanced off by courageous colleagues, humor, and professionalism. Emergency work is visceral and occurs quickly. Timely and practical decisions made by an officer determine the path of an incident that once committed to, can be difficult to reverse. There's no surrounding the building and pulling out a megaphone, cutting another piece at back the shop, or having yet another meeting. Officers live and die by decisions they make when they arrive on scene.

In my books, Gerry Ormond, like many firefighters, has a 'moment of truth' the time in a firefighter's career of walking the line between bravery and foolhardiness. I've taken a lot of falls resulting in sprains and cuts. A ceiling collapsed on me once. Generally though, staying uninjured was due to a combination of luck and timing. In Gerry's War, the chief takes a real beating during his rogue investigation. A third firefighter novel will be out by summer. The prologue is on my website.

Many times, especially as a rookie, I questioned some of the things done to accomplish a task; some hair-raising. Edmonton Fire Rescue has an outstanding safety record and errs on the side of caution, sometimes too much, me thinks. Loose cannons, Hollywood Heroism, or Lone Wolf actions are frowned upon and can result in discipline. Firefighting is teamwork on every level: training, inspections, all emergency work, and even food shopping for our grand meals.

You have also written some children's books. Tell us more about them and how we can find them.

I've written 5 children's stories and have one in the oven. Inspiration comes from my boyhood in the Niagara Peninsula. They are fashioned from bits and pieces there, much of it true. The stories are a bit old-fashioned as there are no magic wands or wise creatures or alien worlds. The big problems happen right at home: bullies, fights, school suspensions, crime, moral dilemmas, fear and hate, etc. My boys get in trouble and must use their wits to solve them. As a boy, I used to read sci-fi and fantasy and quickly tired of it. I'm hoping kids today will tire of zombies and stuff and get back to reality. One of my YA short stories (in an anthology) won a 1997 Canadian Library Award. Bravery, heroism, integrity, moral ethics, redemption, and vengeance are all part of my stories. Presently, I have three at most eBook sites. Out On A Limb was just released and is now available for .99 cents.

If you had to choose a genre, since you have dabbled in both young readers books and adult novels which do you enjoy writing more and why?

I think, my juvenile stories. They're shorter and evoke powerful memories for me. The characters are all from my boyhood--some good, some bad. I find myself comparing my 'old days' to today, in the context of what kids are doing and how they fit in the world. When I see some barefoot kids fishing or kicking around a ball in a park I get a certain assurance, a satisfaction, that all is right in the world and those kids are the ones who will have the better life.

It seems you've had a rather full life and being retired now leaves you some free time. Is there anything that you haven't done that you would like to do now?

In regards to travel, deciding to return to favorite places or seek out new ones. My wife and I love S.E. Asia. India might be a possibility. Return to snorkel the deep South Pacific. Hot-air balloon over an African park or a long jungle river cruise would be exciting. It'd be cool to be a writer-in-residence at a nearby college or university. Even though I've nearly given up on submitting to traditional publishers, I think a hard copy bestseller would be wonderful. Especially the mega-book tour.

Tell us a bit about your family, what they think of your writing and of course tell us more about Gloria!

I met Gloria on a freighter in the South China Sea crossing the equator. She's a great travel companion and is finally overcoming her fear of open water enough to snorkel with me. She is a real talent when it comes to painting watercolors, assembling Ikea cabinets, and can sew anything from furniture upholstery to clothing and curtains. Our three children are all university grads, the first ones in my family to do so. Joel, our eldest, is an industrial designer in Toronto and arranges my book covers. Carmen, our only daughter, runs a business at a nearby oilfield supplier and is studying for an MBA. William, our youngest, set out to teach English in Seoul and has been there for almost three years now. He's got an ESL website for Koreans and is my biggest fan.

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

I admit not reading children's books, mainly because I the racks are full of fantasy and sci-fi. Since I write true grit and reality-based stories, vampires and zombies don't interest me. I love the classics, Oliver Twist and Lord Of The Flies. Fade by Robert Cormier and The Pig Man by Robert Zindel are decent, too. As a boy, I loved war stories and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan Of The Apes' series. Many of my favorite books are listed on my website. I'd love to write like James Lee Burke. Dan Fesperman, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Robert Harris are great American writers. I mix my fiction reading with varied non-fiction (Pierre Berton) mainly historic adventures and odd stuff such as Freakonomics and Tipping Point/Outliers. I post some of my book reviews at a site open to all reviewers.

Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other authors, and give us your links where we can learn more about you and your works.

For fellow authors I say you must do your diligence in editing before anyone reads your work. Editing is hard work. Don't get lazy. On my website blog and another fiction writing one, I've posted self-editing tips, bare minimums you should always perform.

"Books are not written, they are re-written" - Michael Crichton.
My website has short stories, travel pix, and updates on my writing progress as well as links to eBooks sites there. I Tweet once a week or so, whenever there's something writing-wise worthwhile to mention @eryatscoff. Archie's Gold, my juvenile, was to be published by Tundra Press in Toronto but they reneged after stringing me along for almost three years. I've posted rejections on my website under the 'GoodBits/Bad Bites' tab.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us Edward. I hope to do another one soon

Read more:http://www.greatmindsthinkaloud.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=interviews&thread=1077#ixzz1liuMKDFb

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