Richard Schwindt is a social worker in Kingston, Ontario. He is author of The Death in Sioux Lookout Trilogy, Dreams and Sioux Nights, The Love Duology, Social Work for Fun and Profit, Scarborough: Confidential, Sioux Lookout: Confidential, Kingston: Confidential, Emotional Recovery from Workplace Mobbing (and Workbook), and six other books in the Emotional Recovery from… series. Richard has twice been shortlisted for the International Three Day Novel Contest and won the Outstanding Book Award (self-help) for 2016 from the Independent Author Network for Emotional Recovery from Congenital Heart Disease.
1.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
It works. I was going to write a techno-thriller, a ghost story, a romance and a sea monster story. I had no idea how it was all going to mesh. But the humor seems to pull everything together. Everyone who’s read it thinks it’s funny as hell.
2.What character from your book fills you with hope?
The secondary character, Nicholas Herkimer. The guy was murdered 200 years ago (this is based on a real individual) but he’s still funny and engaged. He only gets to talk to others every 50 years or so but, unlike so many other ghosts, he’s neither batshit nor angry. We should all handle adversity this well.
3.What character from your work frightens you, makes you feel dirty to write?
My day job involves helping targets of workplace mobbing. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that many of my current villains are sanctimonious bureaucrats. That said, I wrote a trilogy of murder mysteries in the 90’s set in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, where I often worked with victims of abuse. I have yet to surpass the killer in first volume for sheer loathsomeness. But it was fun taking him out.
4.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
She is remarkable but doesn’t know it. She’s an orphan who thinks she is going to be a fish scientist and is occasionally pestered by ghosts. But her growing friendship with a woman who is both a naval lieutenant commander and a cheerful sociopath changes her self-perception forever.
5.If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
Dissecting a Lamprey Eel; maybe while sipping vodka. You might be a confused when she speaks to a ghost you cannot see or hear.
6.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
I’m an emotional guy and feel what I write. I try to surf the emotions as I go. In Herkimer, the climactic scene is split between two sets of characters and I typed it madly, while wiping tears with my sleeve.
7.How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
I don’t police myself at all unless it’s to do a few more edits. If the book is in my head it’s going to find its way onto the page.
8.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
I have a bit of a mystical relationship with productivity. I can get a lot done without appearing to do anything at all. No one, including me, gets how that works, though it might be related to having congenital heart disease.
9.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
I sometimes pull my punches. I am temperamentally stable and work in a conservative profession, which can be limiting for a writer. So I try to write when I am drunk, angry or otherwise fucked up. At least psychologically, I need to spend some time on the edge.
10.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Keep doing what you are doing and have fun, Richard. And buy as many shares of Apple as you can afford, especially when it’s cheap. Don’t sell them, no matter what.
11.Describe your muse.
My muse is about place. All of my books are rooted in the dark side of wherever I live. And many of my books are named after places. Herkimer’s Nose is the historical name for a public park in Kingston, Ontario; now called Lemoine Point. I often hike there.
12.What piece of art, that is not writing, moves you?
The Blue Boat by Winslow Homer. All of his watercolors move me. This is hardly his masterpiece, but I could look at it all day.
13.You have a chance to hang out with any literary character for one day. Who would it be and what would you do?
Nero Wolfe. His days are predictable; beer, gourmet meals, thoughtful conversation, time with the orchids, banter with Archie Goodwin, and maybe a murder investigation. What’s not to like?
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