Thursday, 2 August 2012

Words with... Gabriel Rheaume

Thanks to Gabriel Rheaume, author of The Shores We Walk, for this interview

How long have you been a member of Book Junkies and how did you stumble upon the group?

I’ve been with Book Junkies a little less than a year. I was searching for groups for authors and readers, so Book Junkies appealed to me.

Has the group helped you? What do you like about it?

I like that a question rarely goes unanswered, and that we can all share our experience and learn from each other.

What books have you written so far?

The Shores We Walk.

What works in progress do you have?

I have a lot of brainstorming going on, taking notes and experimenting with different styles.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I started writing it in a creative writing course at University. I wrote it over a four-year period, changing style, direction and purpose.

Do you write linear, or jump back and forth? Do you plan or write by the seat of your pants?

I mainly write through inspiration, but force myself to write as well. I often disrupt the chronological order in my writing, so being lineal usually doesn’t affect the outcome.

Why do you write?

I told my girlfriend, now deceased, that her family was so dysfunctional they should be in a book or movie. After she committed suicide, I felt it was my honour to tell the story.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing my whole life and have always been encouraged to write by teachers, friends and my dad, who is a writer as well.

Where and when do you write?

I write anywhere. I’m not the ‘sit at a desk’ type. I tend to write where I am. Parks, greyhound buses, trains or in bed are where you would probably see me writing the most.

Which character from your books do you like the most/ are most like?

The Shores We Walk is based on a true story, so it’s really difficult to see the characters as ‘characters’.

What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?

People, the human experience, irony, travelling, culture, major cities, vast countryside and being from Detroit; finding beauty in blight.

What do you think is the ideal recipe for a good novel or story?

I think the word ‘recipe’ shows that there is more than one way to do something right. I do find writers who have a formula are very interesting like Charles Bukowski, who writes about women, alcohol and gambling, or Chuck Palahniuk, who tends to write about 12-step meetings, loss of identity and nihilism.

Have you ever based a character on someone from real life? And did you tell them?

My friends were the inspiration for The Shores We Walk, and as each one passed away through suicide and drug overdoses my story became more complex. As for the few characters that are still alive, I did ask for permission.

Fave things: animal? food? drink? colour? band? song? place? item of clothing?

My interests change a lot with my mood, but I like food with curry, music with integrity, the atmosphere of New Orleans and the comfort of home. I also like scarves.

When you were a kid, what did you want to do/who did you want to be when you grew up?

I think it’s a very American thing to want to be famous, so I always wanted to be a basketball player, even though I was always the smallest person for my age.

Would you say that your dreams have come true or are you still working on them?

The best thing about dreams is that they can always change, but I do fear that if my dreams did come true, I would have nothing left to live for.

Who is your favourite character from any book and why?

Tyler Durden from Fight Club. I love his radical proactive approach to life, interesting idealisms and the idea that destruction is a form of creation. I also like his charm, charisma, cynicism, dark humour and nihilism.

Which book do you wish you had written?

The poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg, because it defined the Beat Generation and generally blew a lot of peoples’ minds.

What three authors would you take to the pub?

Hunter S Thompson, Jack Kerouac and Aldous Huxley.

Are you published or self-published? What is your experience?

I self-published and it has been going really well. I have to do a lot of work on my own as far as promoting and marketing [are concerned], but I like having the control.

How do you find the marketing experience?

I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve done a lot of travelling to promote my book and I do live readings. Having stage fright, I get a real thrill after reading, and I love any excuse to travel and get my book circulating around the world.

What other hobbies do you have?

I’ve been looking for a healthy hobby for years. There’s a store near me called Hobby Lobby; perhaps I could find the answer there.

Complete one of these stories in 100 words or less…

There was once a wee worm called Fred, who had a rather large head… eh, I don’t think I should finish this limerick.

What question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer?

Q: Will you provide a sample of The Shores We Walk?

A: This is a scene from my book where a character’s father has just passed away and this is the stream of consciousness from the afterlife.

I thought I had seen it all back then. Life seemed to be such a burden. I felt as though the Earth was roped to my back and I was the one spinning it around. My heart was the core and was constantly erupting. The second I was released into the universe all things became transparent. Every defect of human character shows in the soul like light shining through a stained-glass window. I looked back through my own soul, and saw every betrayal and truth as though the world’s wrongs were boiled to the surface. Life was not always bad, but I didn’t realize that until mine had already ended.

I wish I would have appreciated her. I spent all my life selfishly starved of worth, needy of vacant praise. Not until I saw her young broken heart did I understand how unconditional her love was for me. When I died I felt guilt for every indecency I had created and I felt a vacuum, pulling from my very center. I know that her living soul felt the same, every waking day. Her mother gave her life, but I could not provide one.


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