Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
With the current release of my first children’s book and three more due for release over the next two years, I hope to be spending more time developing fictional worlds. My books are being released in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. In addition, my publisher is over in Europe now hoping to sell European rights, which would be a real thrill. I’ve been working at these books for seventeen years, so it’s time to see them reach the public. It’s been a long process in which I truly learned the meaning of patience, but I’ve enjoyed every day of sinking into imaginary places and developing new worlds.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made at your job / a job interview?
My worst mistake at a job interview was being too nervous. I currently teach literature and creative writing at Langara College, and it was difficult to get an interview there straight out of graduate school. I spent four and a half years working in private institutions, marking Langara papers, before I got my first interview. I was awful because I was much too nervous. I waited another two years for another interview. At the very end of that second interview, I “asserted” myself at the end by slamming my fist onto the table (in front of twelve surprised instructors) and saying “I REALLY WANT TO WORK HERE!” I got the job.
What was the most important connection you made?
My closest connection was with Professor Mike Zeitlin, who chaired my thesis committee. While this particular relationship did not affect my career in a direct manner, his encouragement and enthusiasm for not only my thesis but his classes in general pushed me forward for years afterwards whenever I was feeling low is spirits/energy. Knowing that I’d had the opportunity to work with such a broad-minded but disciplined prof was great. In fact, I turned down a full scholarship for my graduate degree at SFU simply to come and study under Professor Zeitlin and I have no regrets.
What did you think you would be doing when you started university?
I hoped to work as a prof in the English department at UBC where there are a number of inspirational teachers/thinkers who spurred enthusiastic students on while at the same time making them aware of the competitive nature of academia. By the time I’d finished my graduate degree there, I was a much stringer researcher and writer.
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
I was a professional musician until the age of thirty playing thousands of venues, appearing on television, radio and in various news media; however, recognizing that my strongest talents and abilities earlier would have saved me a few years. The experience of living in the world of entertainment was valuable and broadened my perspectives in a number of ways, but it’s good to know your limits, and it’s important to understand that the old adage “you can do anything you want” isn’t necessarily true. We all have particular strengths and we need to be very self aware of the areas in which we have true potential.