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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Interview with Ian Truman

 I would like to welcome Ian Truman, Author of the book Tales of Lust Hate and Despair, to the site. Personally I would also like to thank Mister Truman for answering so in depth, it really felt that I was sitting right across from him and asking him the questions as I read through them. Hopefully you enjoy learning more about a fascinating author as I did. Also, Make sure to check out his book for an enjoyable read.

I am from a working class family and I am proud of my origins. For the last seven years, I have been employed as an assembly line worker, a forklift driver, a park ranger, a warehouse clerk, a janitor, an industrial laundry operator, a warehouse clerk some more and still am to this day. I have never stopped working full time and I saw first hand how the theories of political science could hardly apply to the realities of the working masses. I have worked in the downtown area, in Laval, Rosemont, Montreal-East (Between the Petro-Canada oil storage facility and the Falconbridge foundry) and the south-west prior to gentrification. I have seen Montreal change and the people suffer from these changes.

I write not because I believe that some great social revolution is going to come out of any novel I can write. I have no illusions about the revolutionary potential of fiction writing. I truly believe that it is only by changing economic structures that a society can change fundamentally. This is basic Marxism. So why write at all? It is a good question. I mostly write to purge the hatred inside me, to purge the hours of factory work, poverty and strife of all sorts. I am majoring in Creative Writing, in a language that is not my native tongue because I felt it was a challenge. I am also graduating with a minor in political science, through which I discovered many philosophers that have influenced me deeply. I have studied the essays of Karl Marx, Immanuel Wallerstein, Ernesto Guevara, Max Stirner, Mikhail Bakunin, but also capitalist philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes or John Locke. I’ve looked into dichotomies such as Anarchism Vs Fascism, Communism Vs Capitalism. Nationalist Vs Internationalist etc… I believe that my existence is guided by philosophies such as Buddhism, Hinduism but also Nihilism.

As Nietzsche explained, human beings are guided both by rationality and irrationality. We are capable of reason and structure but at the same time we need flesh and passion, if not sin. I write political essays when I need to exercise my rational side. I write it in order to better my knowledge of social structures. I write it to better society. Rarely have I included philosophers or philosophy in my fictional works. I believe they are underlining all the stories I write. But I don’t write Fiction in order to prove a point. I write fiction to fill my need for creativity and passion. Mostly, I write because I need to. It fills my passionate, irrational side. When I write, I look for truth, however ugly or beautiful it may be. I look for sincere elements, uncensored and raw; I look for the visceral. My works combine beauty and despair, struggles and hopes. I truly enjoy dichotomies that bring people out of their comfort zones. I avoid moralist statements and allow the reader to bring their own conclusion about the work, about the characters, and (hopefully) about their lives.

1.If you were sent to prison, what do you think would be the most plausible crime that landed you behind bars?
Well, the only time I've been sent to jail was because of a protest (back in 2001). I guess that was and still would be the most plausible crime I could be charged with. That is if you think protesting a crime, which our government here in Quebec now considers in certain ways. But I don't want to get into that too much. If I had to plan the perfect crime though, and be sent to jail for it. I suppose it would be some Robin Hood thing, like stealing a few billions from JPMorgan or something, somehow laundry the money and then start a whole bunch of cooperatives throughout the land. I'd be a criminal gentlemen if I ever chose that career, but so far I am a surprisingly law abiding citizen for a guy with my kind of background.

2.What would you miss most while in jail?
My wife and kid are definitely on top of that list, but that's pretty much a generic answer, so let me try to find you a better one.
Music? I guess they got music in prison as well. You get to read plenty and you get some down time to write so that's not it either. I don't drink or do drugs so I wouldn't miss that (anyways there's still plenty of ways to get dope inside.) You get to do some gardening, lift weights and play basketball which are all part of my regular activities. A good mosh pit at a hardcore show? There's prison riots for that as well. So, I don't know. A latté from the Italian Social Club, maybe? I also think I could go a year without sex (I think.)
How long of a sentence are we talking here

3. How did you come up for the idea for your book?
Life in general, but mostly life in this fine city of Montreal. It's really a city of haves and have-nots and if it wasn't for our balanced social system here in Quebec, with things like free health care and cheap universities, I know the city would be a mess. I think that what keeps the poor and the rich from beating on one another is the fact that you have a legitimate fighting chance to get ahead in life when you live here. Hell, I managed to go to college, walk out with only $15 000 in debt and I'm from a working class family. But I'm getting off topic.
I'm a french kid who's in a long term relationship with an Irish girl, so that alone makes us a bit of a black sheep in Quebec (though not so much in Montreal anymore.) We are both from the east, which is the working class part of town (along with the south-west). And so I wanted to have these two parts of our city deeply connected to the story. There are these areas that are now being gentrified in the same way that the East Village or the Lower East Side was gentrified in New-York and I wanted to write about neighborhoods like St-Henri, Pointe-St-Charles, Verdun and Hochelaga before their story is forgotten under the bulldozers.
People who have been to Montreal also know that drugs and prostitution are a big issue in certain areas. I remember historians calling the city “little Harlem” during the prohibition in the Us. The French (from France) also call it “La pute de l'Amérique du nord” which stands for “North America's Courtesan”, which I think is a gross overstatement. It's all getting “cleaned up” these days but the truth is there are less hookers on street corners, but way more “agencies” and the issue remains the same. I do not in any way advocate drug use or prostitution and I guess it's why I wanted to write a story that was truthful and hard because I think a lot of people kinda idealize or romanticize these kinds of things.
So I guess I don't have to come up with ideas, the city just kinda provides them naturally.

4. While creating the story did you have a soundtrack in mind for it?

Most definitely. I have been a huge fan of all types or music for as long as I can remember and even though my main interests lie in punk and hardcore, I also listen to a lot of hip-hop and some stuff that surprise people like Mogwai and Sigur Ros. I don't want to list out everything I listen to but I guess that regardless of the style, I like music that is made by and for the underdogs. Truth be told, I can't write without music. I need the ambiance, the feel of certain songs that fit the scene I am trying to depict. If the music is right, the tone of the chapter of scene will be right as well.
I use a different play list for my different projects but in the case of Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair, it was stuff like Mogwai, Neurosis, Deftones, Marylin Manson, Tom Waits, Tim Barry, Sage Francis, Wu-Tang Clan (The old stuff), Onyx, Atmosphere and some heavier stuff like Blacklisted, Converge or Blood for Blood. That all sounds like a weird mix, but I could link each band or song to a certain part of the novel that needed that kind of influence. That's just how I write.
5. If your book was made into the movie who would you want to play your characters?
Wow. I don't know. Let me think.
I know I'd want to direct the damn thing. I'd also like to have Ian McFarland as a DOP because, well he'd in Blood for Blood and I'd like to meet him but he's also from the kind of neighborhood that my novel is about and he has turned his attention to film in the last years and I was impressed with his work. Enough said.
I would have Mike Ness play the musician in the brothel. I think that a trainspotting-era Evan McGregor would fit well for Sam, but I don't know who would fit that bill today. I think Sage Francis would play a good biker, but most of all, I guess I'd want a movie with fairly unknown actors or newcomers with something to prove. I'm one of these guys who believe that your art will come out better if you've been hungry in life, it makes things more visceral.

6. What would your dream job be and why?
I could say “writer” but that wouldn't be all that hones. I write because I feel I have to but I don't think I could sit and write eight hours a day, 365 days a year. I'm not the kind of guy who can do the same thing over and over again. I can honestly say I never had a job I liked. Ok! I was once a clerk in a record shop, but the pay was too low and I was 16-17. Since then it's been a series of warehouses, factories, laundry services and more warehouses. These days, I guess “anything else” would be fine.
If I ever make money, I know I'd like to buy a building somewhere and turn it into some kind of galleria-venue for kids and young adults top perform for cheap. When I grew up we had this thing called “L'X room” downtown where we would see all the shows and organize on a political level. The venue closed and I miss it. So I guess my dream job would be to run such a place. [

7. What is the scariest thing you have lived through?

The only things that scare me now are related to my daughter. I just want her to have a shot in life. So that's that. As for me, I don't know. I don't get scared that easily anymore. I've been in a few riots and I've been in a few fights. I can say that the police scares the shit out of me but not in a “Oh-my-god-oh-my-god-oh-my-god” kinda way. There was this one time where a fucked up hobo chased me with a syringe in his hands yelling “come here, tough guy, I'll stab you with this needle I got here. I have every STD that exists, though guy...” I guess that was scary, because handguns are illegal here (and very rare, although I did have a bullet hole in one of my windows at a time), so I don't have one to defend myself. I had a knife, but he had an AIDS infected needle and he didn't mind using it, so he had the advantage. The only thing I had going for me was that he was so high, he eventually fell down and never got up. Oh! And what was I doing to deserve this, I was having ice cream at dairy queens. Life's shit, I guess.
That was the absolute worst (Ok! Well, no it wasn't). But life in Montreal is usually very nice (OK! OK! I moved to the Rosemont borough as well.)

8. What do you do for writers block?
I do something else. “Fuck it,” I'd simply say. If the story won't come out, I'm not going to force it.
I do have a somewhat strict work ethic. I write at least an hour a day, regardless if it is on a novel, play, script of blog. I expect to write at least 800 words a day or something (mind you, I work the rest of the day in a warehouse and care for my family afterward.) In the end, I probably end up with something like a 600 words per day average (for the day's I can't write) and that's how I work. I also try to have two entirely different projects going at the same time. If I run out of steam for one story, I might still have a lot for another one. It worked so far.

9. Are your characters based off of any one's likeness?
They are all true-ish characters. I don't copy-paste my friends on paper, but I do try to keep them as realistic as possible. If they are not inspired from people I know, they are inspired by people I respect or admire. Every once in a while it's just someone on the bus who was talking too loud and it happened to inspire some side character. This answer is shorter than I had expected, I guess I am running out of things to say. 

10. I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. any last words you would like to leave the readers?
This is the time for the “political” plug of the interview. We have a student strike here in Quebec that has turned in to a full blown social crisis (especially with bill 78).
I wrote something about it here
the wiki is here :
and here are English translations of (mostly) French news articles
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading. And just because I can, I want to finish on something very cheezy an positive.
Don't be afraid to be creative. Take care of your community and stay off drugs.
I mean that.
Thank you,
Ian Truman.

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*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of numerous Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by the Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*