On Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 2PM EST, ZoomerMag.com hosted it's first 'Writer's Block' webcast with author Andrew Pyper. His latest release, The Guardians, was selected as the February 2011 Zoomer Pick.
The exclusive live interview webcast for our Official Zoomer Book Club connects our community in a direct way to Zoomer Magazine's engaging content for Canadians 45 and up, and it's on-going coverage to great Canadian authors.
Our ZoomerMedia sites — ZoomerMag.com, Zoomers.ca & 50Plus.com — also curate on a weekly basis e-book recommendations in our Kobo Books' 'Zoomer Picks' list. (You'll notice that Zoomers.ca recommendations come directly from our Official Book Club members.)
The Guardians is chilling story about four friends from small-town Ontario who learn that some secrets won't stay buried, even though it may take decades for the bodies to surface. The thriller however, deals with heavy themes such as aging, friendships and fear of the unknown.
The book is hot property right now: it's been on Maclean's national best seller's list for seven weeks now, and has been optioned for a film adaptation. During his intimate conversation with Zoomer Magazine's associate editor Athena McKenzie, Pyper talked about his dream cast for the film adaptation, gave great writer advice and talked about how the haunted house story is a literary device.
Below is our recap:
ON AIR: The webcast was broadcast in Classical 96.3 FM's Concert Lobby studio. Here, Andrew Pyper discusses with Athena McKenzie haunted houses as a literary device that 'mythologizes danger'. (via @ZoomerMag)
On the surface, The Guardians is a gripping thriller that exploits that great horror literary device of the 'haunted house'. Without spoiling the book, Andrew discusses how he used the haunted house to reflect upon greater ideas surrounding fear (how the most painful are often attached to what we value) and long-time male friendships.
Andrew then discussed readers reaction to the haunted house — many people have approached him about their own ghost story, or their own small town haunted house — and remarked upon its universality and how we use it to 'mythologize' danger:
'We need haunted houses. We need these places to situate our fears so we can go on with this veneer of safety.'
The mid-life crisis is a key theme in The Guardians. Pyper discussed at length how men and women approach their memories differently. He believes that men have their 'hands in the sand a lot more than we think'.
'Men are always looking back, imagining that they're the hockey star and how cool they were in high school. Women generally honor time in a more realistic way. They know what times means... [they're] less nostalgic.'
Throughout the webcast, our viewers submitted questions that Athena then posed to Andrew. Erica in Winnipeg asked about how Andrew's own early male friendships impacted the story, noting the book dedication to them.
Andrew elaborated how The Guardians is the first book he's written that's consciously autobiographical in terms of the focus on male friendships and the setting in the small Ontario town of Grimshaw. He talked about how it was only through the novel that he was able to express how fundamental of an experience it was in still having old friends that grew up from the same place as him.
'I love them, but as a guy, you can't say that. So I had to write a novel.'
Meanwhile, Danielle from Trenton asked about Andrew's writing rituals. According to him, music is a big no-no, but as long as he has a semi-quiet environment and a cup of coffee, he's good to go.
(via ZoomerStaff's awesome Photoshopping)
The last question originally began as a rumination on Andrew's ability to balance the two different story lines of The Guardians: a haunted house tale, and getting that second chance at a high school romance.
'For me, it's all part of the same continuum,' says Pyper. 'If you invest in characters... having them go into a haunted house is no different than having them fall in love with their high school sweetheart.'
The answer references an early question from a webcast viewer about the importance of psychology in Pyper's writing process. Pyper went on to explain that while he has no formal studies in psychology — and is more reliant on the great literature legacy of Graham Greene, Margaret Atwood & Alice Munro — he focuses more on character development than plot. He discussed how he advises student writers to not just sketch the character in abstract, but imagine what they'll do in hypothetical situations, like waiting in an elevator or after a bar's last call.
AND THAT'S A WRAP: Andrew Pyper and Athena McKenzie caught just moments after the mics came off. (via @zoomermag)
If you're curious to watch the webcast in full, you can watch it here.