David Menear

How did you conceive your first book? 

Swallows Playing Chicken’ was published in the Fall of 2019 with Mansfield Publishing and has since been shortlisted for both the 2019 & 2020 ReLit Award for short fiction. The manuscript for this book was originally that of a novel. I was always uncomfortable with this approach, finding it a clumsy read. At one of Michael/Barry Callaghan’s grand parties I bumped into Bruce Myer and we had a brief discussion about my conundrum. It was agreed that the MS shouldn’t be torn up but be torn into short stories. And that’s the story around the story collection. 

What specific incident incited/inspired your last piece of work (of any form or length)? 

Falling powerfully and passionately in love with a brilliant and beautiful married woman twenty-two years younger than I has figured often in my work over the past couple of years since we split. Including today. She is not a memory but a tattoo on my soul that never fades.

 How do other people contribute to your writing practice?

The only way that I’m truly able to judge my own work is to remove myself from it. I need to read it as if someone else wrote it. If I don’t like it, it’s theirs and no longer mine. I am not at all shy to reach out for help and opinions. The person that I rely on the most is my brother. He won’t choke on his criticism and he’s the best read person that I know. 

What specific book(s) inspired your recent work?

Shuggie Bain’ by Douglas Stuart. The expansive detail and unforgiving truth telling is necessary.

Have you ever collaborated on a writing project with another writer? Or maybe you’ve collaborated with an artist/dancer/musician/actor? Can you share your experience?

Lynn Crosbie is a brave and brilliant writer. We got into a random and remote ‘call and response’ writing project together a few years back. Huge fun. She’d send me a few crazed and clever lines and then it would be my turn to embellish or deepen the story. Back and forth we’d go. Literary chess.

What writers (or artists in other forms/media) have been formative in shaping how you write? How?

 Writers that have impacted my writing are Aldous Huxley, Toni Morrison, J.D. Salinger, Cormac McCarthy, Gore Vidal, Patrick de Witt, Douglas Stuart, Roddy Doyle…

How is your writing practice informed by a sense of writing to or for others? Do you have an audience in mind when you write?

Writing for others or an audience is not at all what I do. Most often I don’t know what I’m doing or what I’ve done until it’s done. I can not imagine being conscious of some sensitive audience and thereby likely eroding your honesty.

What elements/aspects of writing give you pleasure?

Creating a character, place, tone and mood, a feeling or feelings – this gives me great pleasure in my writing. Just describing a certain sort of sky is a love of mine. And describing a love of mine. If it isn’t fabulism it must be poetry and honesty always.

Menear is most often described as an edgy, urgent, gritty and sometimes ‘transgressive’ short story writer with a soft heart and a sense of humour. You find him at that place where Salinger meets Cormac McCarthy for tea and cookies. He has been published widely in Canada. He is a 2019 and 2020 ReLit Awards finalist – in the short fiction category. A father of four, David has spent most of his life between Toronto and Montreal, but has also lived in big city England, and quaint village France. He studied art in New York City. David has won numerous international advertising awards for his creativity. He returned to Toronto for two years at ‘The Beach’, writing hard and playing tennis with terrifying enthusiasm and some certain mediocrity.

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