Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with David Lomax

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David Lomax

The WAR Series: Writers As Readers gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Today we welcome David Lomax, the author of Backward Glass (Flux Books). Backward Glass follows Kenny, who moves into a crumbling old Victorian house with his parents in 1977. Shortly after his arrival, his makes two stunning discoveries — the mummified body of a dead child in the walls of the carriage house, and a mirror that allows him to travel back in time. Along with the mysterious Luka, Kenny is determined to use the mirror to go back and stop the murder of the child he found — but he soon realises that he is in great danger himself.

Read on to hear from David about early adventures with Sherlock Holmes, reading the great women of CanLit and what's next on his reading list.

The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. My parents read to us a lot. Much of it was the adventure stuff my dad had loved as a kid. The Coral Island, King Solomon's Mines — that sort of thing. When they did Tarzan of the Apes, I was hooked, but by the fourth book in the series, I think my sister had had enough, so I had to start reading them on my own.

A book that made me cry:

Recently? The Kite Runner. That book had so much power over me that I'll follow Khaled Hosseini anywhere now.

The first adult book I read:

Nobody told me there was a distinction, so I'm not sure. My parents left all kinds of books around when I was a kid. I was reading Sherlock Holmes when I was nine. Do those count?

A book that made me laugh out loud:

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4. I love to laugh at Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole books. Adrian's self-obsessed, blinkered youth and adulthood is the vehicle for the funniest and most biting satire imaginable. Yet he's also, in his foibles and his failures, so endearing that he remains one of my favourite fictional creations. I laugh and then I cringe.

The book I have re-read many times:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I love this book with the innocence in which I first found it at age fifteen, and then with every state I have been in when I read it ever since — cynicism, optimism, disillusionment, joy. Another satire, its target is the whole human race, and like Sue Townsend, Douglas Adams was able to both love us and see our follies all at the same time. I love the books, the radio show, the TV show — I even found things to love in the much-despised movie adaptation. But it's the books I always come back to, the story of poor Arthur Dent, whose planet got destroyed the same day his house did, and whose struggle to make sense of the universe was, despite how far he went and how much he saw, no more successful than any of ours is. Just thinking of the theme song of that show makes me feel a pang of remembered joy.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:

And the Mountains Echoed. I said earlier I would follow Khaled Hosseini anywhere, but I haven't picked this one up yet. I've become very used to reading ebooks in the last few years, and Mr. Hosseini's publishers insisted on pricing the ebook higher than the hardcover. This was infuriating, so I'm waiting (with bated breath) for the price to become more reasonable. I'm desperate to read it, however. I think he is extraordinary.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:

My seventeen-year-old self had a lot to read as it was. I might have preferred to take away a few. I got my first girlfriend then, and she was plying me with some new-agey spiritual stuff that did me no good whatsoever. If I had been able to toss those out and get teen me back to good old-fashioned fiction, I might have had me read Ursula K. Leguin sooner — I didn't get to her short stories (most of which are now collected into two awesome volumes entitled The Real and the Unreal) until my twenties, and they were a revelation. Actually that makes me realize a better answer to this question: women. I took too long to get around to reading Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, Alice Munro and many others.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why:

Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked this way Comes had such a mix of innocence and terror that I can remember my teenage self thinking, how did he do that? I want to do that. I remember holding that book in my hand and marvelling at the magic that was held inside, the fire in those pages. I wanted to set someone on fire that way.

The best book I read in the past six months:

Every Day by David Levithan. It's not my usual thing in that it's a young adult book about love. But it's nothing you'd expect. The young protagonist has, since he can remember, woken up in a different body every morning, lived a different life, and then moved on that night. This is the story of how, in that impossible situation, he falls in love. It was second in line for “a book that made me cry” above, but I kept it for this question.

The book I plan on reading next:

I haven't read Iain Banks' last book The Quarry yet, so probably that. I was profoundly saddened when he died a few months ago. His perfectly plotted and often quite mad books have been a staple of mine for more than twenty years. He was wise, funny, merciless and unbelievably inventive. He wrote science fiction and plain-old fiction, and could be, often in the same book, extremely difficult and yet easy as warm butter. I loved his books, and though I never met him, I miss him dearly. He's someone I feel I got to know by reading him, and thinking of his passing makes me terribly melancholy, so I'll read that last book and think fondly of its brilliant author.

A possible title for my autobiography:

I have no idea what I'm doing and I never did: A memoir of my years as a human being.

At age eight, David Lomax was transplanted to Canada from his native Scotland. The same year, his parents read him Tarzan of the Apes, and he decided to become a writer. He didn't get all of the cool jobs his other writer friends did to make their biographies sound interesting such as train driver, elevator repairman or insurance underwriter. He was, briefly, a waiter. But not a good one. He currently divides his time between four great passions — writing, reading, teaching high-school English and his wonderful family. He lives in Toronto with his awesome wife and three precocious children. His debut novel, Backward Glass is out now from Flux Books.

For more information about Backward Glass please visit the Flux Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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