The poems were the only thing I wrote that was not for everyone else. Then my editors at Penguin, who were also friends and had seen several of them, aggressively urged me to do a book. Editors can be aggressive, especially after drinks. That's how 'Beyond This Dark House' appeared.
I spent many years writing and directing in radio drama, so I am comfortable with an audience or a microphone, but I do worry about the blurring of an author's public persona with the work itself. A good 'performer' can make a mediocre book sound strong, and a shy author can leave listeners missing the excellence of his or her writing.
We are all shaped by where we grow up, though that shaping takes different forms. I don't think there's any doubt that coming of age in Winnipeg both opened my eyes and made me hungry - if I can subvert all claims to be a real writer by mixing metaphors like that.
When we work with history, to a very great degree we are all guessing. But by using motifs of time and history in a fantasy setting, we are acknowledging that this educated guesswork, invention, fantasy underlie our treatment of the past and its peoples - and we are not claiming a right to do with them as we will.
Do we value privacy in any real way? Thinking about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace... all these suggest we value exposure rather more. And instead of challenging this transformation, as they are supposed to - certainly at the more thoughtful edges of the art - novelists are buying into it wholesale.