He works nights – from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. – a habit he picked up when he held
down an office job and Beverley worked the dinner-shift front-of-house at a local restaurant. He says his family, friends and business acquaintances all know not to phone him after 8 o'clock, or, he adds, rather disconcertingly, “I'll rip their face off.”
Research, for him, is paramount. “Once I have a thorough understanding in my own mind of the political, regional and international situation at the time, and I've captured the central historical characters and their interaction,” he says, “only then do I tell my story.”His characters, he says, are everything to him, and for them he draws on his own moral centre. “They have the same family values, the same basic integrity. All that is pretty much me,” he says, before taking a deep draw of his stogie, years of practice having riven sharp creases into the skin of his jaw. “Even the villains,” he grins ...
A booming voice burst out of the slight figure hunched over the mike, as Jack launched into the Hippopotamus Song.
The hippopotamus was no ignoramus
And sang her this sweet serenade
Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud.
“Only when I think about it,” he responds with a half-hearted laugh, before stubbing out his cigar. “Yeah, I think it does bother me.” He starts rooting around for another smoke. “Why am I not part of the CanLit scene? I've been wondering that for years. I'm not recognized by the literary community in Canada,” he says. “Although there's not too many people dare say it to my face.”