Gerard Collins is a Newfoundland writer whose first novel, Finton Moon, was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award and won the Percy Janes First Novel Award. His short-story collection, Moonlight Sketches, won the NL Book Award, and his stories have been published widely in journals and anthologies. He lives in southern New Brunswick.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an author
I’ve always been a voracious reader and someone who likes to write down my thoughts about things. My father was a great storyteller, and I’m sure that influenced me to want to tell stories of my own. I come from a large family but still spent much of my time in solitude, wandering the forests and shorelines around my parents’ house in rural Newfoundland.
While others around me were immersed in the practical, everyday world, I was more of an observer of the everyday. I loved music and stories, and I liked to make things up. I never decided to become a writer, per se. I think I always was one.
In university I wrote my first short stories, and even published one. While I don’t think they were very good, they did provide the basis for my growth as a writer. In fact, one story “The Terror of Finton Moon” later became the leaping-off point for my first published novel, Finton Moon.
It took me a long time to get published, but I never really doubted that being a writer was my fate. I don’t say “destiny” because I already was a writer and was resigned to that fact; being a published author seemed inevitable.
When I finally did publish, I was quite grateful, especially when those two first two books did very well with awards and all that, and I told Donna Francis, the managing editor of the publishing house, that I appreciated her publishing me. She said, “Oh, Gerard, you would’ve published eventually anyway.” I responded, “Yes, but I preferred it wasn’t posthumously.”
What quirky habits do you have?
I’m not all that quirky, unless you count the fact that I like feel of cold floors under my feet in the morning just because it feels so good when I finally give in and put on socks.
When I’m at home, I always drink out of the same coffee mug – a sleek, smooth black mug with a pleasing shape and a velvety red inside – that I bought in Salem, MA a couple of years ago. If I forgot to wash it the day before, I’ll pluck it out of the dishwasher and wash it to use that morning.
My biggest quirk – one which I rarely encounter in anyone else, if ever – is that I thrive from the underdog position. Winning all the time isn’t as much fun for me as falling really far behind and then making a comeback. In some ways, I have spent my whole life in that position, and it’s really useful to know that no matter how bad things get or how bleak things are, a comeback is inevitable, and it will be all the sweeter for the victory.
Even as a kid, I preferred when my favourite sports teams were losing by a lot, rather than winning. Winning from the get-go makes me nervous. I was a third-period, bottom of the ninth, darkest before dawn kind of guy. Makes sense that one of my favourite albums of all time is The Rising by Bruce Springsteen.
What are some interesting things that have happened to you?
Interesting things are always happening to me, but I do believe we usually create our own best moments, rather than waiting for opportunity to knock. One that stands out is that when I was in my late twenties, there was a radio-sponsored Great Canadian Party happening on Canada Day in St. John’s where I lived. Continue reading