Register Saturday | July 4 | 2020

Chainsaws, trucks and testosterone

A "poolside" interview with Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens is riding a very high-profile wave at the moment. The Law of Dreams, his epic odyssey set during the Irish Famine of 1847, recently won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. The New York Times lauded his work, while Maisonneuve’s Nick Haramis didn’t hate it either. Behrens is currently at work on a screenplay you’re not allowed to know anything about. In the meantime, busy yourselves with Behren’s short story “Sun Life” in our latest issue. If you still have time, help us find out who the hell the McGarrigle sisters are.

MM: Which drugs are best for sparking literary creativity?
PB: Caffeine and testosterone.

MM: If you could put a soundtrack to your writing, who would compose it?
PB: Oh, that’s easy. Mr. Dylan would compose, with help from Van Morrison, and both would sing alongside Jolie Holland, Hazel Dickens and the McGarrigle sisters.

MM: Fill in the blank: “I want to write the next great _____________.”
PB: Bestseller

MM: What's the stupidest question you've been asked in an interview? 
PB: So, are you really Canadian?

MM: What's the most challenging aspect of writing fiction?
PB: Novels take so bloody long!

MM: What are the biggest setbacks you've encountered?
PB: The Law of Dreams got rejection after rejection; editors kept inviting me to their offices to explain why it could not be published.

MM: What's your least literary hobby?
PB: I love my chainsaw.

MM: What would you do if you weren't a writer?
PB: I love to imagine myself as an architect, but I’d probably be a trucker. I love trucks. And truck driving, in Alberta, was my last job.

MM: What’s your least noble reason for writing?
PB: When I'm in my office writing, I don't have to do childcare.

MM: What mood do you write in? 
PB: Nervous

MM: What’s the one book that you’re supposed to read but have never gotten through?
PB: Proust.

MM: What’s the best way to kill a character?
PB: Quickly. 

MM: On a scale of one to James Frey, how autobiographical is your work?
PB: It is drawn from a family past that no one has bothered to remember. So I have to make it all up. 

MM: Write a haiku about your latest book.
PB:    I see the war,
            soldiers don't see me.
            All gone now.