Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sam Wiebe

Sam Wiebe is the author of the Vancouver crime novels Cut You Down, Invisible Dead, and Last of the Independents. His short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Spinetingler, and subTerrain, and he is a former Vancouver Public Library Writer in Residence. He lives in Vancouver.

Wiebe's new novel, Never Going Back, is due out in August.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Never Going Back is about Alison Kidd, a reformed master thief whose brother is kidnaped. To free him she’s forced to pull off one last heist—a set of priceless photographs owned by a retired hockey star. When the book opens, Ali is being released from incarceration, wondering why her brother isn’t waiting to pick her up.

The title speaks to her immediate situation—she’s on the straight and narrow, vowing never to return to prison, and yet circumstances force her to take on one last dangerous job. Existentially, the title speaks to her desire for something better. It becomes a mantra for her to fight through her predicament.

What's in a name?

The names should fit the characters, but the why of that…I don’t know. Sometimes it just sounds right to me. Ali sounded right for her character, someone who’s cunning and talented, has a little larceny in her heart but is fighting against it.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenaged self read everything from westerns to mysteries to mainstream fiction, biographies, history, trash. I think he’d like Never Going Back.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

They’re both tough. A beginning has to grab you. An ending has to resonate after it lets you go. I probably change the endings more.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Certain things come from me or people I know, yeah. The most interesting one from Never Going Back had to do with a friend of mine whose father installed alarms. There’s a way to ‘cheat’ certain alarm systems, even quite high-tech ones…read the book to find out.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

In the case of Never Going Back, photography. The Vancouver School and street photography play a key role in Never Going Back. Street photography is a document of a time and place, and yet is composed and artificial. Photographs are mechanically reproducible, as Walter Benjamin pointed out in a famous essay—and yet certain photos become priceless.

And what better object to steal than something that’s priceless?
Visit Sam Wiebe's website.

My Book, The Movie: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Cut You Down.

--Marshal Zeringue