Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thanks Imagining Toronto

The website, "Imagining Toronto" has a list of, "100 Toronto Books You Should Read" and I'm very happy to be wedged in between Maureen Jennings and Robert Rotenberg on the "genre" list.

Genre Fiction

61. Kelley Anderson, Bitten
62. Rosemary Aubert, Firebrand
63. Linwood Barclay, Bad Move
64. Pat Capponi, Last Stop Sunnyside
65. Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl In The Ring (eagerly awaited: her forthcoming novel, tentatively titled T’Aint)
66. Tanya Huff, Blood Price (or any other of Huff’s Blood series. Bonus point for Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light)
67. Maureen Jennings, Poor Tom Is Cold (or any other of her Murdoch Mysteries)
68. John McFetridge, Dirty Sweet or Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere69. Robert Rotenberg, Old City Hall70. Robert Charles Wilson, The Perseids and Other Stories

The whole list is very interesting.

When I first moved to Toronto about twenty years ago I was writing generic stories without much sense of place - and that's probably a big reason why I wasn't selling any of them.

Then Scott Albert and I wrote, Below the Line, and set the stories specifically in Toronto - on the set of an American movie being filmed in Toronto so we had plenty of jokes about location scouts looking for buildings that looked "New York" or "Chicago," and we included the line someone said once about Canadian crews being, "Mexicans in togues."

Then when I started to write Dirty Sweet I was deliberately trying to get to know the city better, to get into more neighbourhoods and to try to get to the character of the city a little more. I've really just been trying to do that ever since.

Recently someone said that it's become a cliche to say that, "setting is a character," in fiction, especially in genre fiction and especially in serial fiction in which the same characters (including the setting) are in more than one book, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Toronto is a character in my books and a character with some serious internal conflict.

Well, any interesting character is going to have some serious internal conflict, right?


pattinase (abbott) said...

Yay, John.

Raymond M. said...

I have to say, as a born and bred Torontonian, one of the reasons I love your novels is the fact that it's explicitly about the Toronto you won't find in a Margaret Atwood novel. Congrats John and keep up the good work.

seana said...

Congratulations. It's a great gift to a writer to find his material, I think.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Interesting that you made this list, and you're non-native to Bageltown Southwest. Do you think a perceptive interloper can see a city better than a native would because he or she notices things the native might take for granted?
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

John McFetridge said...

Thanks everybody.

Peter, I've thought about this and I think in some ways it does have to do with coming from an older city and a culture that may have been more used to being critical. I sometimes see Toronto as a very young city and still a little insecure - though that's disappearing as, like Raymond says, more than just what's in Margaret Atwood's Toronto starts to show up in books.