Author spotlight: Richard Foot

Between now and our awards ceremony on September 20th, we will be featuring the shortlisted authors for the 2014 East Coast Literary Awards.

This week, we feature Richard Foot, author of the book, Driven: How the Bathburst Tragedy Ignited a Crusade for Change. His book is shortlisted for the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award.

Richard Foot is a freelance writer for the Globe and Mail, the Toronto StarCBC RadioMacLean’s, and the Postmedia newspapers. He was formerly the Atlantic correspondent for the National Post and the Moncton bureau chief for the Telegraph Journal. His journalism has been nominated for three National Newspaper Awards, a National Magazine Award, and an Atlantic Journalism Award. He lives in Halifax.

Describe your ideal writing space.
A cottage on a quiet beach on the north shore of PEI, with a long expanse of sand on which to walk and think and let the words percolate.

Tell us a bit about your process.  Do you work in snippets or do you have a full draft? Are you a planner or do you feel your way through? Pencil, pen, typewriter, computer?
I’ve only ever used a computer. I need fairly large chunks of time alone — at least 4 or 5 hour writing periods — in order to accomplish anything. I have a pretty good idea of how the book will be laid out and how the narrative will be told before I begin.

Give us the ‘elevator pitch’ of your book.
Driven revolves around the 2008 Bathurst High tragedy. But it’s really the story of two unlikely agents of change — a pair of quiet, ordinary, small town mothers, transformed by the loss of their teenage sons, into a team of take-no-prisoners political activists. 

What was the biggest difference between your first draft and last?
I wrote the book as events were still unfolding, so the ending of the first draft was incomplete. Fortunately, political developments came to a head, as did developments in the lives of the protagonists, so a more natural and satisfying ending presented itself by the time I was writing the final draft.

Do you feel public readings help writers develop their craft? Or are readings simply part of the business of being a writer?
I would say the “craft” of writing either comes from within, or is learned and honed through the concentrated process of writing stories. It’s deeply personal. Public readings, on the other hand, aren’t personal at all, they’re part of the business of marketing books and reaching audiences.

Many writers have other roles, such as instructors, mentors, editors, cultural workers, publishers. What other roles, if any, keep you busy and do you view them as supportive of your work as a writer?
I’m a journalist and editor, so I write and read other people’s writing every day to make a living. Being a journalist certainly taught me how to write clearly and tell good stories. Anyone who goes through the fire of daily journalism will also know how to focus the mind, meet deadlines and write under pressure. 

Your thoughts on Twitter (in 140 characters or less.)
Twitter is past its prime. What’s the next big thing?

What are you currently working on?
A book about politics, and the Canadians trying to save our broken democracy.

What book out there do you wish you had written?
Any of the Harry Potter books. They sold quite a few copies.

Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My two children. They have this mysterious belief that I can accomplish anything.

The winner of the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award will be announced in Halifax on September 20, 2014. 

Richard Foot’s book, Driven: How the Bathurst Tragedy Ignited a Crusade for Change, can be purchased from your local independent bookseller.  

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