Emerging Author of the Month: Adam Elliot Segal
November 5, 2012
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Edmonton, raised in Vancouver, and have lived in Toronto and Montreal since graduating from the University of Western Ontario with an honours degree in English and Comparative Literature. I’ve published in enRoute, Chatelaine, and Reader’s Digest and my recent short fiction has appeared in subTerrain and The Feathertale Review. I currently work as an assistant editor at Sportsnet magazine.
Tell us about the piece you’ve decided to share.
Tether tells the story of Sagey Cooper. The love of his life, Claire, is dead. His grandfather in Montreal is dying. But when Sagey meets The Dancer at Claire’s funeral, everything changes. When David arrives in Montreal unexpectedly from Los Angeles—his failed acting career and loveless relationships in tow—the two old friends must confront the lost summer that occurred years ago in this city. Told through a shifting narrative between Sagey, David and the two women, Tether explores when love becomes shattered pieces of memory, the past becomes too heavy to carry into the future, and the things that bind us together become the things that threaten to break us apart.
When and why did you realize you had a passion for writing?
I think like many teenagers—at the risk of sounding hyperbolic—discovering the arts changed my life. At the same time, I was beginning to write (and by “write” I mean mostly bad love poetry), I was becoming heavily involved in theatre and music and I think all those disciplines went hand-in-hand. I’m reticent to call it a lightbulb moment—it was more like a lightbulb period of time when I realized my passions and knew what I wanted to do with my life. I think it’s an immensely interesting time of self-discovery in one’s life, so I encourage anyone at that age to be creative, try new things, surround yourself with like-minded people and immerse yourself in the arts. Once you find a voice, stick with it over the long haul.
What pieces of writing/authors have had the greatest impact on you?
I studied Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Doestoevsky over a period of several years in university, and I think that greatly influenced me in terms of understanding the psychology of the human condition. I’ve been really influenced by some Canadian authors as well: Michael Ondaatje and Leonard Cohen. Both have an ability to find beauty in the cadence of language. Cohen’s The Favourite Game specifically had a big impact on me when I was younger. I also really like commercial jingles—I think it takes a special kind of creator to get four or five words to stick in your head forever.
What kind of writer do you aspire to be?
I think that’s for others to decide. I just try to work hard and keep learning how to be a better writer. As long as you maintain a strong self-belief in your work and continue to persevere in your craft, I think you’ll become the writer you aspire to be.
How and when do you find time to write?
It really depends. When I was freelancing for magazines, it was much easier to schedule time to write, but it’s easier to distract yourself when you work from home. The funny thing is, when you’re holding down a full-time job, writing or otherwise, the itch to fit in your own work actually works as a motivating factor due to time constraints, acting as a deadline of sorts. I’m a morning writer, so on the weekends, I like to start Saturdays off working from home, then head to my local coffee shop. I don’t like listening to music while writing, and much prefer the cacophony of voices in the café—you never know when inspiration will strike. If I’m still writing by the evening, a drink at a quiet bar usually helps things along.