Trent Lewin is a writer of fiction, novels and short stories. He’s published short stories, but not a novel as yet (though he’s trying – ain’t we all!). He’s from Canada, likes red wine and scotch, can’t stand politics, and loves you all. His writing can be found at trentlewin.com.
- What inspired your story and characters? [If multiple books, please write in separate paragraphs].
For my new novel, Girl Island, the inspiration was girls. I wanted to remind everyone of their power. The protagonist is a young female who finds a way to grow far beyond herself, and to do extraordinary things. Isn’t that what girls do?
For my previous novel, I was watching a superhero movie (can’t remember which) and wondered what would happen if a person didn’t get their powers until they were a senior citizen. Bang! Big novel.
- How do you come up with character names?
I love baseball, so mostly I borrow names from baseball players, usually combinations of different players. Other times, I take names from my friends. My main character in Girl Island (Prentis Jones) is named after my friend Catastrophe Jones. I know that doesn’t make sense, but writing never really makes sense, does it?
- Other than your own, what book do you wish you would have written?
All the Light We Cannot See. The Moor’s Last Sigh. The Count of Monte Cristo. Green Eggs and Ham. The screenplay for Glengarry Glen Ross.
- What inspired you to begin writing?
When I was a kid, I was electrocuted. I put a screwdriver into a receptacle because I’d lost my favorite pair of socks. Before that, I had no urge to write; after that, it seemed like the thing to do. Either that or become an electrician. I think I picked well. Okay, so seriously, I don’t know. It’s just something I’ve always done. But I do still have a favorite pair of socks. Several, actually.
- When did you begin writing – what age approximately?
I believe I was seven when that electrocution incident may or may not have happened. But I was definitely seven when I started taking swings at these pitches.
- What inspires you while writing?
Lots of fire. The type of fire you can’t get from listening to great music or drinking great wine. That surge of upwelling crazy that you can’t let go. I let the words jump on each other, inspire their own construction – I just try not to get in the way. I never think while writing. I just do the thing. Maybe inspiration comes from the air around me, or from some higher power. I’m not entirely sure the inspiration is generated internally.
- How do you start a story?
I narrate the opening lines in my head, until they sound right. Then I commit.
- Do you outline your story ahead of time? Or do you just wing it? Why?
My shorter short stories (say 2,500 words and under) are outlined through three or four lines. Longer short stories (say up to 10,000 words) get descriptors for each of the sections. For the novels, I outline fairly extensively, but I leave a lot of room in each chapter for creativity. I’m more seat-of-my-pants writer than an organized one, but I’ve realized that organization and planning generally lead to better results, as long as you give yourself room to breathe. I used to try and write while tipsy, and while that’s fun, it often left me with an incoherent mess of crap that I would struggle with the next morning. Seriously, a story cannot be comprised of the same letter over and over again… right?
- Do you think the movies are better than the books? Why or why not?
I think it’s both. Bladerunner is a tremendous movie but a puzzling book. Every movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo sucks compared to the book. But Heart of Darkness? I’ll call that a draw with Apocalypse Now. Harry Potter too.
- What is your relationship like with your characters? Like them, dislike them? Why?
I don’t really have a relationship with them, they’re not real! It’s not like they talk to me… in fact, they mostly ignore me. Maybe they don’t like me, or perhaps I don’t feed them enough. I think I’ve written characters worthy of being liked, and others worthy of being despised. I wonder how they feel about me…
- Do you base your characters off of yourself or people you know? Why or why not?
I think it’s natural to include bits and pieces of people you know in your characters, it’s hard to avoid. But I also base them on really random observations of people out in the street, strangers I don’t know, but they’re doing something that makes me wonder about their lives, so I flesh in that story out even though I have no idea what it really is. Let’s call it half-real.
- How much of your work is based on real people/events in your own life?
Almost none. My life is pretty boring. I mean, I wish it were more exciting. I could probably go travelling the world or buy a scooter or associate myself with Justin Bieber. But none of that has ever happened, and likely won’t. Maybe that’s why I write, to experience things that aren’t in my life, in addition to trying to find an explanation for the things I don’t understand. And there is a lot of stuff I don’t understand. Like Justin Bieber.
- What is your writing process like? Explain it to us.
I don’t think. I just write. Once I’ve got a brief outline, I just try to feel my way through the story. I have a full-time job, so there’s very little time left to me to write. I have to make the moments count, so I either find the rhythm and go for it, or I retreat for the time being. Ninety percent of the time, I get it done. The other ten percent? Netflix.
- Do you have a favorite character you’ve written?
The favorite character I’ve written is the one I haven’t come up with yet. But they’re out there.
- Do you have a favorite story you’ve written?
I do. It’s called ‘Plenty’, and can be found on my blog at trentlewin.com. It’s a story that makes no sense and flips through different settings for no reason that really makes sense, but it always calls to me. It’s also probably the most autobiographical story I’ve ever written, which makes me sound suddenly very pompous. But I do love it.
- What is your favorite book?
I’m partial to Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh. It’s gorgeous.
- Who is your favorite author? Why?
Gabriel Guy Marquez. Again, gorgeous language and total imagination.
FUN, RANDOM QUESTIONS:
- What’s your favorite movie? Any genre.
I really enjoy this mini-series that’s playing in the US right now, where this reality TV star becomes the President of the United States. It’s a little far-fetched, and it seems to be going on for longer than it should, but it’s definitely entertaining. Also, Star Wars.
- What’s your favorite TV show? Why?
Arrested Development. I know the latter seasons haven’t been the best, but seasons 1-3 are so amazing.
- What’s your favorite color?
Orange. But my favorite colour (with a ‘u’), is blue.
- What’s your favorite genre for books, movies, or TV shows?
Anything that mashes up between genres. I really like to be surprised.
- What are some of your hobbies?
I love lawn bowling and ice carving, but I never mix the two. I also really don’t have time for hobbies, but one day I’ll probably need some.