Does it matter?”
A few months later I was at the airport, in the middle of a long flight back to Canada, and I looked up at the window. There was nobody in the hotel bar. I turned around, and saw a little boy, his eyes wide open, his back to me. He was about 10 years old. The boy looked like he had been born there, and it was easy to see in him a boy with an idea of what had been and what was going to be.
Then I started asking him about the story he and his friends were reading, and he replied, “You need a good narrative. Do you want to come back in four years? Four years from now? Who knows, it might be worth a try.” That was when I felt real, real good and alive again.
And so one week I went back to Winnipeg to talk to a few editors who’d worked on the first book, who told me that the writing was still going really well, and that they’d given up a lot to get my agent involved. The writing would probably be the only thing in the book that would be the book’s greatest asset—the best thing. And the most dangerous thing.
The book I’d always wanted to write was a children’s book about a witch and her little pet bear. I knew that children’s books had to contain a “sadism story” as a part of the plot or they’d never work the way I’d seen, or the way the majority of them do now.
I had also just written a children’s book for adults, about a group of teenagers living in a remote cabin up in the mountains. I said to my wife at the time, “I’m going to write about the adults.” I didn’t want to write kids’ books. I wanted writers to write books that had adult themes, that had adult people in them, but they were just adults!
There was a certain pressure, especially in American publishing, to put your own spin on everything, so when I got an offer for another book I realized that the pressure would be different this time!
On a good day, I think about writing something in a month. I write stories about people who I like who’re going through real personal problems. But, by the time that I write one of those stories—a story about a depressed woman—I’m still thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it, and I know that
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