Willie Handler interview
1. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I decided to take a stab at writing later in life. Although, I wrote for much of my work
career, it was nothing creative. I take that back. Come to think of it, I worked in public
policy for the Ontario government and there were times when I needed to be incredibly
creative. But that’s a story for another time. After retiring from the government, I took
some time to consider what I wanted to next in my life. Career-wise, I’ve reinvented
myself several times. Just over three years ago, I decided I would like to write a novel, so
here I am.
2. The Road Ahead is a political satire…where did your inspiration come from?
I’ve always had an interest in satire. Working in government with direct contact with
politicians, forces you to develop considerable political acuity. You need to read people
and anticipate issues before the blow up on you. I thought a political satire would be an
ideal first story and my previous career provided lots of inspiration. As it turned out,
writing the book was also very cathartic.
3. Rick is definitely “politically incorrect”. Is he based on a real person, a combination of people, or totally made up?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
There have been many Rick Tompkins in politics. And not just in Canada or the United
States. He is the opportunist or narcissist who goes into politics for all the wrong reasons.
Rick is a made-up person, but every reader swears they know who I’m writing about.
However, the book contains unforgettable lines I heard during my former career.
4. Do you have any experience in politics?
Unlike the U.S., the public service in Canada is nonpartisan. As a senior public servant, I
was restricted by law from participating in a number of political activities. I chose to
remain completely neutral politically and never even had a lawn sign. Since retiring, I’ve
volunteered for a number of political campaigns. Some of that experience is reflected in
5. How has your life changed since becoming an author?
Good question. My life is always evolving. Many things in my life have changed since I
took up writing that have nothing to do with writing. However, becoming an author has
exposed me to new experiences, skills and opportunities. I’ve developed a new network
of peers. Yet, I don’t feel my life has changed much at all.
6. Tell us about your current WIP.
The story takes place 20 years in the future. It’s about Dixon Jenner, a chef, who is
selected by NASA to prepare meals on the first permanent colony on Mars. The colony is
destroyed in an explosion while Dix is exploring on his own in a rover. The explosion
gets the attention of two Martians, Bleeker and Seepa, who come to the surface to
investigate. They decide to provide him with shelter and in exchange he agrees to be
interviewed for a study on human anatomy and social structures. Dix attempts to fit into
Martian society with some funny results.
7. Where do your ideas come from?
A couple of years ago I took a course on writing humor. On the first day, I pretended that I was a sci-fi writer
who had inadvertently applied to the wrong course (yes, I may have gone overboard practicing my craft).
I carried this on for several weeks before finally
admitting I had made it all up. One week, I even submitted a sci-fi piece for an assignment. But everyone in the class insisted I turn the short story into a novel. I thought
a genre I had never considered to write would be a great way to challenge my creativity.
So, I did it.
8. Do you have a writing process?
I have no process what so ever. I just sit down and write. I wasn’t even sure about my
ending until I was working on the last couple of chapters. I believe it’s referred to as pantsing.
9. What is the genre you most relate to?
The common thread in all my writing is humor and satire. I like to try different genres and incorporate my brand of humor. One day, I would love to write a funny thriller or mystery.
10. If you were asked to give advice to a would be writer, what would it be?
Write like no one is reading.
What I mean by that is don’t write what you think will be a commercially successful book. Instead, write for yourself.
If it there’s an audience for your book, that’s great.. If there isn’t a market for it, you’re still a success because you
wrote a book. That’s damn hard to do!
My elevator pitch for The Road Ahead
Rick Tompkins, a suburban Toronto insurance broker, never considered a political career
until a good friend, the leader of the Conservative party, asks him to run for office. He
accepts, knowing he cannot win, only to gain visibility for himself and his business. Jerry,
a veteran party worker, is sent to run Rick’s campaign in a riding that hasn’t elected a
Conservative in years.
Rick fumbles his way through the election and manages a surprise win but saddles his
party with an impossible commitment. Even worse, Rick is anything but politically
correct. He offends everyone and stumbles from one scandal to another.
Where you can find me:
I’m active on Twitter – @WillieHandler
I have an author’s page on Facebook –
I have a blog. I initially used to post funny stuff. Then it evolved into writing advice.
Now, I think I’m going to return to posting some humor pieces. –
Thank you, Willie for being so welcoming to me on Twitter, and for your wit and words of wisdom, here today.
Wishing you all many roads ahead….