Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
ISBN: 978-0-385-67013-5 (0-385-67013-3)
Pub Date: October 25, 2011
Add this item to your cart
20 Writerly Questions for C.C. Benison
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
A warm-hearted vicar displaced from the city to a tiny village comes to understand Sherlock Holmes’s truth: “That the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
About two years in and around other writing and editing assignments. About a year, if you exclude the other work.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
At a summer cottage my grandfather built in Gimli, Manitoba, in 1922. It remains relatively unchanged since the mid-twentieth century and has few mod cons, so few distractions.
4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Since my characters live in southwest England, I make a point of visiting graveyards there and jotting down names. I also purloin regional phonebooks, if I get the chance. More generally, I find the credits at the end of films useful. So many names that you can mix’n’match.
5. How many drafts do you go through?
Two serious ones, with a few more of the tinkering variety.
6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
The first thing that comes to mind is that I wish I had written anything by Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen or any of that ilk, but then they’re lyricists and I wouldn’t know where to begin writing a song. If I had to pick a book, it would be Alice in Wonderland.
7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Jonny Lee Miller.
8. What’s your favourite city in the world?
9. If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask?
I find myself most interested in very prolific authors. Ruth Rendell, Stephen King and Alexander McCall Smith come to mind. My questions to them are these: What drugs are you using, and where can I get some?
10. Do you listen to music while you write?
No. I prefer silence, dead silence.
11. Who is the first person who gets to you read your manuscript?
If there’s sufficient time I ask a couple of discerning friends if they can bear to read it, but usually my editor is my first reader.
12. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
A bit of classy trash like Vanity Fair (the magazine) once in a while, or perhaps a celebrity biography. I’m not sure I feel awfully guilty about it, though.
13. What’s on your nightstand right now?
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.
14. What is the first book you remember reading?
I’m 112 years old – it’s so hard to remember. It may well have been Alice in Wonderland, possibly The Secret Garden or Paddle-to-the-Sea or it might have been The Missing Chums, an early Hardy Boys adventure, a copy of which lay around the cottage for years when I was a child.
15. Did you always want to be a writer?
No. I always wanted to be a reader; then I discovered no one pays you to read books.
16. What do you drink or eat while you write?
Coffee in the morning; tea in the afternoon; sometimes fruit for elevenses. That’s it. I don’t want crumbs in my keyboard.
17. Typewriter, laptop, or pen & paper?
Desktop computer. If I stared down at a laptop all day, I’d have to keep a chiropractor on permanent retainer.
18. What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
I haven’t the faintest recollection, sorry. I’m sure I had a moment of bliss consciousness, but I guess it passed.
19. How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
In the instance of Twelve Drummers Drumming, simple practicality was an important factor. I thought if I used third-person limited (punctuated with epistolary narrative) I would be able to rein in the word count. How wrong I was.
20. What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
The polite answer is ‘time’. But you have to buy time, and that takes money.
Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!