Wednesday, 8 October 2014


Sam Wiebe, the author of September's pick of the month book - Last of the Independents was kind enough to spend some time perusing my questionnaire.

My review of Sam's book is here - Last of the Independents.

His website is here - 

You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is @sam_wiebe

Q + A is below......

Is the writing a full-time or a sideline-passion-hobby?  What’s the day job?

I teach first-year lit and comp, and I write. Both are full-time.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

The book launch for Last of the Independents. I got to see a lot of old friends, and drink some great whisky.

From start to finish how long did Last of the Independents take from conception to completion?

It took a year to write and revise. Then I entered the manuscript in the Crime Writers of Canada Best Unpublished First Novel contest, which it won. Publication took two years.

Was this your first serious attempt at a novel? Are there any unpublished gems in the bottom drawer?

I don't know about 'gems.' I have a draft of something kicking around.

Will we see more of Michael Drayton and some of the supporting characters from LOTI?

I pushed for the series title to be Vancouver Noir because I wanted it to be linked by geography and theme, a la James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet or the tv series True Detective. I was uncomfortable limiting it to the "A [Character Name] Mystery" format. Last of the Independents isn't "A Michael Drayton Novel;" it's THE Michael Drayton novel.

That said, it's more than possible.
Any modern influences on your stories? 

Like high modernists? James Joyce is pretty good.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I write by hand, aiming for five pages (one thousand words) a day.

Do you insert family, friends and colleagues into your characters? Would they recognise themselves?

I don't write roman á clef, but certain anecdotes or mannerisms are definitely suggested by people I know. My friend Andrew told me a story about pissing on someone's door handle, which struck me as so petty and gross I had to use it

Are there any subjects off limits as far as your writing is concerned?


That said, there are approaches to subjects I really despise. Quirky genius serial killers, rape used for cheap titillation, endless mise-en-abyme postmodern wankery. To me those things show a lack of interest in and understanding of human beings.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

Doubt by John Patrick Shanley, Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith, A Confession by Leo Tolstoy, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, This is Orson Welles by Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich.

Who do you read and enjoy?

Peter Temple and Tana French are both awesome. 

Favourite activity when not working?   

I like walking around the city. Vancouver's endlessly fascinating to me.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

It's still taking shape.

What’s the best thing about writing-publishing?

The people. I was not expecting other writers to be so damn cool. The Vancouver crime writing community--E.R. Brown, Robin Spano, Dietrich Kalteis, Owen Laukkanen--are knowledgeable, smart, personable, and really talented.
If I check back in a couple of years’ time, where do you hope to be with the writing?

I'd like to have my student loans paid off. Other than that, career-wise, I'm pretty content to see how things play out.

My thanks to Sam for his time.


  1. Col, this is not the first time I have read about writers who enjoy a good walk. It probably helps them think on their feet and get the creative juices flowing. Thanks for another fine author interview.

    1. Prashant, there might be something to that thought. I do some of my best thinking when I'm on a run.

  2. Col - Thanks very much for sharing this. It's always interesting to learn more about the way writers go about what they do. And I couldn't agree more about approaches to certain subjects. I think Wiebe nailed that one.

    1. Margot, glad you enjoyed it. I hope you can squeeze Sam's book onto your burgeoning TBR pile! I'll look forward to your review as and when that happens.

  3. I do like your interviews Col, and this author sounds really nice, as well as being from Vancouver which is a big plus....

    1. Thanks, Moira. I'll have to see if I have anything else from Vancouver lurking on the pile.

  4. Very interesting interview, Col. Good news, Glen and I were at our independent bookstore today (a very cool one) and they had LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS on the shelves. I will be getting a copy.

    1. Boom - happy days! I hope you (both) enjoy it!