How long have you been a member of NOWW?
On and off for 3 or 4 years.
What genres do you write in and what format of writing do you do?
I’m known mostly for my picture books, which I also illustrate. I also write middle readers, young adult and adult books of short stories and poetry. I’m completing a few books this year: an adult novel, a middle reader and a new kind of book I call an Encyclobook—a combination of various kinds of writing and visual art, much like what you might find posted on a Facebook page. I also write an arts column for the Chronicle Journal called, “Art on the Edge”.
Do you have a favourite book or favourite author?
I’m a big fan of the art historian, Alan Gowans. His account of the history of art was invaluable to the direction I took with my own work.
Let’s get to know you a bit better. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to writing:
I’m fiercely independent and either too practical or impractical, depending on your viewpoint. I have never owned a car, love biking, never been married or lived with a woman (not opposed to either – just haven’t found the right woman yet) or owned property. I like travelling to foreign countries and can’t stomach the monotony of regular work. My lifestyle is a result of the “itch.” I get physically and mentally ill if I can’t be creative. I’m strangely upbeat and optimistic despite the low income and my solitary lifestyle. My few friends are intellectual oddballs from other parts of the country and the world. They are smarter than I am, which is a good way to learn and keep oneself real.
My dedication to becoming a writer began when I was continually presented with terrible children’s stories to illustrate. The Canadian publishers I worked with seemed to have no discerning ability when it came to kids’ books. I lacked the writing skills at the time to get my ideas onto paper, so in my early twenties I began writing children’s books, short stories for adults, and poetry. I took on various paid writing jobs and learned to design my own books with both text and illustrations. I’m now a professional writer and visual artist expanding my repertoire to include middle readers, YA novels and a novel for adults.
Tell us a bit about your writing and your writing style:
Writers don’t realize how easy they have it and they need to stop complaining about how difficult writing is. They have the advantage of using a person’s visual identikit – an image bank, to create entire worlds with words that would be enormously difficult to achieve as a visual artist, either in the form of a graphic novel or a film. Being a visual artist has given me a great advantage over other writers. Learning programs and design techniques necessary to create my own books has also given me an income greater than most authors. I’m not opposed to working with publishers, but I can be more discerning and practical about the business relationship.
The novel I’m about to complete is called We Play You, based on a true story about an artist with a troubled background whose work is stolen, along with every other artist’s work in the gallery by the gallery owner. The artist’s search for his art leads to an insurance company responsible for stealing art worldwide. This is the first novel of a series where an artist uses his skills to help hunt down a criminal organization. I’ll be looking for a publisher for this book, but will self-publish a short run to test it out locally.
To satisfy the visual art side of my brain and career I’m creating a book called an Encyclobook, (which I mentioned earlier), based on the Facebook format where people post images, memes, personal accounts, and links to essays and stories. The format of the book will be similarly random featuring the best of past visual and literary work I’ve created over the years, along with new works created for the project. It’s going to be a lot of fun to put together.
Who has inspired and impacted your writing?
Every time I’ve answered a question about inspiration I’ve been as honest as I can, but I’ve noticed that I give a different answer each time. There is no one source. All is blended, but I do try to be original and take advice as to where to get inspiration. Although Tom Wolfe of Bonfire of the Vanities fame is disliked by many writers, his advice and writing style is something every writer can learn from. As a former reporter he talks about the value of research, of getting out of the house and talking to people and experiencing the world in order to feed the imagination. Many writers and visual artists look within themselves for inspiration thinking the modern mantra of expressing oneself is paramount. Wolfe argues that you can only do that successfully just once in your life with a novel. After that you’re plumbing the same depths with variations on the first book. And you will lose your audience. Feeding yourself with other people’s experiences and the activity and reality of the world around us will take a writer to new heights and help them find an audience who never thought to venture where a courageous writer might go.
Can we see you at any upcoming NOWW events?
Next year I will certainly enter the contests. I’ve been meaning to for a while.
Where can we learn more about you and your writing?
My website and blogs can be found at www.duncanweller.com. Twitter is: https://twitter.com/DuncanWeller Pinterest is: https://www.pinterest.com/duncanweller/ Blog for news is: http://duncanweller.blogspot.ca Blog for Art on the Edge articles is: http://duncanweller1.blogspot.ca
And to end things off, tell us something surprising about yourself!
As well as being a Canadian citizen I’m also a proud European citizen, but sadly for only a couple more years due to Brexit. I smoke a cigar once in a blue moon.
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