This Saturday at 7 pm, Ottawa-native Andrew Forbes is launching What You Need, his debut collection of short stories, at Raw Sugar Cafe (692 Somerset W.). While currently living in Peterborough, this young author is no stranger to the National Capital Region, having been born in Ottawa, as well as attending Gloucester High School and Carleton University. He also visits our region regularly as his parents still live in the east end of the city.
Even though this is Forbes’ first published book, he has been previously published in numerous places, including magazines, journals, ad copy, online outlets, newsletters and even CD liner notes. Apartment613 caught up with Forbes prior to his book launch.
Note: Also reading during this Saturday’s event is Apartment613 contributor Sanita Fejzic as well as Richard Taylor.
Apartment613: What is it about the short story format that you enjoy? Does it offer different opportunities then, say, a novel or movie script?
Andrew Forbes: Short stories are their own little perfect form, somewhere between poem and novel, and utterly distinct from both. They require concision and a ton of fine tuning on the writer’s part, but they allow a reader to parachute discretely into a fully drawn world and get an emotional payoff faster than she would from a novel. Getting her there requires an attention to the mechanics of the thing while also balancing the need for concision. There’s little room for extras, so every word, line, and mark of punctuation bears more weight.
Apt613: Many of the characters in your book are transient, e.g. they are on a road trip or move around a lot. What attracts you to this type of fictional character?
AF: I think they’re just exaggerations of all of us, maybe: a little more desperate, a little less adept at life, but full of terrific desire for something, and unsure of just how to get it. When you write a character in some kind of transition or liminal space, it can serve as a sort of shorthand to a reader, telling them that this character is in some sort of flux. It’s instant tension.
Apt613: Many of the characters are also looking to escape the confines of their ordinary life, while often failing. What inspired you to write these fictional tales?
AF: If you were to boil it down you’d find I was mostly just trying to make characters and stories you might discover in a John Prine song. If I could play guitar or sing I’d likely just do that. Quicker results, fewer commas.
Apt613: What can audience members expect from your reading at Raw Sugar on Saturday?
AF: Some heartbreak, some laughter (I hope), and the chance to buy a book none of their friends have yet read, and so trade in the cultural currency of being “first” to something. One day they can tell people they prefer my early stuff.
Apt613: What upcoming projects are you working on?
AF: I’m busy turning a novella into a novel, and turning my true lifelong aspiration – writing about baseball – into a lucrative sideline. The former is far more likely to happen than the latter.