Today I have an interview with fellow Canadian, and satirical author Arnold Logan. Enjoy!
Interview With Arnold Logan
Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
Experience has been my teacher. I shrank from the firm embrace of power, preferring to learn by sitting on a footstool in the School of Hard Knocks. But I paid what seemed to be the exorbitant price that school exacts.
I once read the story of a young man who smuggled hashish from Afghanistan through Russia in the 1970s. He rode the Siberian Express train and was caught by the Russian police, only to be put in a Siberian prison for any years. On the day he was released, he followed the example of the other prisoners who’d been freed. It was the custom there to break in half the spoon which was the one piece of cutlery the prisoners were allowed to have. Every prisoner kept that tin spoon close at hand, lest it be stolen from him. If that happened, their diet of watery, compromised soup would go uneaten and be stolen by others. Like that young man, I, too, have broken my spoon in half. Perhaps I am still breaking it.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?
Springtime in Lawrence Park is a roman á clef, one that’s influenced by the picaresque novels of the eighteenth century. It’s a rollicking yarn, if I dare analyse my own style.
The novel follows Marie Barnacle, the heroine or subject (if you prefer). Marie is the youngest child in an old-money family that’s slid down a few rungs on Canada’s social ladder. They have great expectations for their daughter, of course. I trace Marie’s struggles as she tries to transform herself—from a chrysalis into a butterfly. But the ancient force of authority and the genetic tug of medieval history combine with the motives of her family to oppose her progress and development.
Who is your intended readership?
The reader whose reward is sympathy.
What are your writing inspirations?
For this novel, the books that feed its cold stream are Hamlet, The Tempest, everything by Daniel Defoe (but especially Roxanna), and Dickens’ Little Dorrit.
The poets have been inspirational too. Baudelaire the Miraculous, Shelley the Gentle, Keats the Giver, Poe the Obscure.
What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
The greatest challenge was to stay the course. The second was entering the arena of dialogue; I feared that the most.
What did you most enjoy about writing this book?
The triumphal whirl that came from the inspiration inherent in composing that first draft. Which, of course, was followed by the essential work—breaking up hot rocks in the sunshine of editing.
Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your book?
The joy of unearthing buried treasures in the course of rewriting.
Why did you write this book?
I felt like a tailor sewing a coat. After devising a pattern, I cut it out and selected the fabric.
I’ve always wanted to speak, to speak of the stories I’ve gleaned or suffered through or sought out curiously. This is my first effort to be heard in public.
To say that I was inspired by emotions, by tragedy, and by an urge to honour the writers who have often rescued me would seem trite, were it not true. And the sheer pleasure derived from the process—pen in hand—inspired me to continue to the end.
When the book was complete, when it was over, it felt a bit like losing a friend, which is, of course, a bitter end. But this is one friend who I may never lose fully, and I’m starting to appreciate the sweetness of closure with its potential for a new beginning and new friendships.
What’s your next project?
I’d like to write about war and orphans, but I haven’t formed an outline yet. Right now I’m bundling some poems together to send off to magazines.
Marie Barnacle should have had the perfect life. Born into wealth and prestige, she grew up in posh Lawrence Park, with its winding roads, stone mansions, and old money. But Marie’s charmed life is haunted by a dark family secret. The youngest child of Raul and Tabitha Barnacle, Marie Dorée is burdened by her parents’ attempts to burnish the faded glory of their dynasty. This dark satire follows Marie through her troubled childhood, rebellious adolescence, and her efforts to establish a life beyond the reach of her domineering parents and possessive brothers. She traipses from one unfulfilling career to the next and drifts through a series of dalliant affairs. When she finds a love that offers a real escape, Marie’s family tightens its noose. The Barnacles would do anything to protect their darling—even destroy her. Springtime in Lawrence Park peers past the veneer of our most dignified neighbour hoods to explore the hidden—and often hysterical—lives of the decadent elite
It is also available on