An Interview with Callan Wink
Author Callan Wink will be speaking at the Library about his book Dog Run Moon on Tuesday 14 November at 19h30.
What was your first experience in a library that you remember?
When I was a kid we never had a TV in the house and I think, mostly for this reason, I read a lot, starting at a young age. We lived in a rural area in northern Michigan. My mother would take me to the small local library and I’d check out large stacks of paperback western novels. As a kid I was a fairly indiscriminate reader. I always had my nose in a book but I wasn’t reading the classics by any means. I think this tendency has carried through a bit in my adult reading habits. I’m prone to reading contemporary fiction, quickly, and primarily for enjoyment/entertainment. I also tend to not retain tremendous amounts of the books I read. This is a bit of a hinderance at writerly cocktail parties, where people smarter than myself seem to have the ability to remember, in great detail, every book they’ve ever read. However, cocktail parties aside, I do think my poor memory does help a bit at times with my actual writing. Since I tend to forget most of what I read in short order, it means that I can then sit down to write and not be haunted by the specters off all the great stories I’ve read in the past.
How did you come to be interested in writing fiction, particularly about the kinds of characters who populate Dog Run Moon?
I started writing at a fairly young age, mostly poetry. I wasn’t much of a poet, and I didn’t really read poetry, but there was something about the brevity of a poem, the ability to dash something off in an hour or two and call it complete, that appealed to me. In my early twenties I kind realized that what I was writing and calling ‘poems’ were just short stories that I was too lazy to expand fully. So, I kicked the poetry habit and I’m glad I did, my poems were really quite bad.
My characters tend to be the sorts of people I’m surrounded by in the place I live, Livingston, Montana or where I grew up in Michigan. These are people who generally don’t have as much money as they would like. They might work an unsatisfying job. Generally their relationships are fraying around the edges, if not imploding outright. I really admire writers who are able to create fabulous worlds, based on not much more than imagination and research. I’m thinking about Adam Johnson’s astounding novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, for example. Johnson basically invents a North Korea and manages to write a fascinating book about a place that is in some ways unknowable to outsiders. Unfortunately, I can’t do this sort of thing with any authority, thus I have to write about places and people that I know. I need to have a working familiarity with the names of the tree/plants/animals for instance. Even if these things are not actually present in the story, I don’t feel comfortable populating a world with which I don’t have an intimate relationship.