I met Ian under the name of Devin Salesman on Twitter. His book, And the Salesman Came to Town, intrigued me. As my love for Terry Pratchett explains, I love it when stories contain a fair share of humor. Ian let me wait weeks for the image (blame was put on the Zon), but it was worth it! So, without further ado, let me introduce me to Ian Campbell, so you can also have a laugh.
I am a 53-year-old man, who is married with two adult sons – both of whom still live with me! Professionally, I am a high school English teacher. And now that I have put this on paper, I’ve realized just how boring I am. I was born in Toronto, Canada, but when I was still a baby my family moved to Winnipeg, where I learned the meaning of a what cold winter is! When I was young, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities in primary school, and needless to say – I was not what could be considered a model student. Let’s just say I was heavy on the hyper activity! Unfortunately, when I was 12 my mother passed away after a battle with cancer, and when I was 13 my father sent me to a military school in southern Ontario, near Niagara Falls. I spent the next 5 years at the school – consider it a reward for being a perfect child! My father during my time at school moved back to Toronto, so that I wasn’t too far away from family, and after I finished my education, I too stayed in Toronto. I worked for several years then went to York University, where I studied English Literature, and later I received my teaching qualifications from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. During this time, I started my novel And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and available on Amazon! (subtle plug, right?) I also got married, and my lovely wife and I had our aforementioned sons. As my life got busier I got away from writing, sending most of my free time with my sons. We went swimming, biked, watched moves and went to amusement parks and so much more. We were thick as thieves. My sons are still very active, they just don’t take me along anymore! I never thought I would be the 3rd wheel! Honestly they would bring me along too, but now that I’m getting older I’ve developed a bad back and cannot do all the things I used to do. Summers had become boring, and I had an idea – start my book from scratch! The rest is history – exciting NO! No, no – it really isn’t, but I have started my second untitled novel!
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be/if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Be yourself and get over yourself! The first draft of my book And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and again the – it’s available on Amazon thing, (yes, it’s plug number 2) was written about 20 years ago. I was trying to be all dark and sardonic, somewhere between Kurt Vonnegut and Evelyn Waugh, two of my favorite authors. Then, while I was editing the first half of the novel, a thought came to me. ‘What kind of self deluded idiot would write this kind of preachy and pretentious bull sh**!’ Let’s just say I knew it needed some revisions. The first draft was in truth complete crap, but I still thought it was overall a good idea, and never really gave up on it. And now you know why it took 20 years! Here is my advice, be yourself and get over yourself – to be an author, and you need to find you own voice! Being self critical, and being able to take criticism from others, will also help enhance your prose.
Who is/are your favorite author(s)? How much is your work influenced by his or her works?
Obviously, Kurt Vonnegut, Evelyn Waugh, then J. R.R. Tolkien, Hemingway, Mark Twain, Johnathan Swift, of course Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Frank Herbert, Shirley Jackson, Eric Walters, Arthur Conan Doyle and J. K. Rowling. I know the last one is an author of kid’s books, but tell me – who doesn’t love Harry! Really, it’s a longer list than this, but in my defence, I’m an old guy so I’ve read a lot of books.
Who is the most famous author you have ever met?
Austin Clark. I don’t think he is that famous, but he has won some major literary awards. I don’t get out much!
What made you want to become a writer?
I love stories: books, movies, TV, plays – and of almost any genre. Although I like satire and fantasy/science fiction the best. At heart, I’m still a child! And, according to my wife, every other part of my anatomy as well.
What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?
Everything! I wrote And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, I guess you’ve gotten the whole Amazon thing by now (plug number 3 – nice huh?) without having any idea of what I was doing. Here’s the thing though, I’m pretty sure that I still have no idea of what I’m doing.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Everything, from the outline to the rough draft, and the revisions and editing. I have to admit that I’m not very good at editing myself as I see what should be there, and in many instances, not what is there. Apparently, neither did the professional editor I hired, he left spelling and grammar mistakes for god…! Anyway, after some complaints from readers, I have put And the Salesman Came to Town, by… (Well, you know the rest by now – plug number 4!) through an online editor – but I digress. Even if I had no way of sharing my writing with others, I would still write. I love every part of it!
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
For me, a gift – absolutely a gift! I can create my own little world, and get a short reprieve from the somewhat messed up real world we live in. I’m a humour/fantasy writer, and all I can hope for is that my audience is having half as much fun reading my writing, as I have had writing it. If that is the case, in my opinion, I’ve done my job as an author!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
This cat right here. We share the same world view.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Energize! As I already said I love writing, especially humour. Like my novel And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Didn’t think I’d get one more in did you? Last one, promise!)
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
Oh, very part time. As they say “Don’t give up your day job!” I would be thrilled to be able to write full-time, but at this point, being a somewhat newly self publish author – who has no idea what he is doing as far as publishing goes, I think I’ll have to keep the day job for a while. And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Okay, I lied!).
Thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm for writing, Ian. I’m glad to hear you’ve used an editor for your book. Yes, folks, the edited version is online now! I’ve started reading it and am enjoying it very much (although I’m terribly time deprived working on my own books, but I promise I’ll write a review when I’ve finished!).
If you wish you can follow Ian Campbell, aka Devin Salesman, on Twitter.
Just in case you didn’t get it, you can get And the Salesman came to Town on Amazon! Here’s the teaser:
The devil has come to town – but this time he is the CEO of a multinational corporation. This multinational advertises a soul back guarantee for all potential customers – for their purchase of their very own dream life. A semi-alcoholic priest is anointed as – The Chosen – the one who is destined to fight off the evil, and to stop this latest incarnation of the devil. He is sent unwillingly into the battle between good and evil, and what can only be considered to be an excellently executed marketing campaign. John Murdock, a self described crappy priest and aforementioned semi-alcoholic, wakes one morning to a radio commercial outlining the benefits of buying one’s own dream life for the low – low price of their soul. He sincerely hopes that the commercial is a bad joke made by the radio station, or at least a hangover induced hallucination. But finds out to his dismay that it is all real, and that it is his job to fight the devil incarnate, or more accurately stated – the devil incorporated.