Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Where Are They Now?

(If you are unfamiliar with G'Narr, please read "A Blast From the Past?" to set the stage for today's interview.)

Today, we have a real treat, as Diary of a Chainman was able to track down G'Narr creator John McFetridge for a classic Q & A interview. Plus, we received permission to post this lost classic on YouTube nearly 20 years after it's inception at a small Toronto airport hotel.

Hi John, thanks again for agreeing to this interview!

Q. Who are you?

A. I'm John McFetridge.

Q. Where are you from?

A. I was born and grew up in Greenfield Park, a suburb of Montreal and now I live in Toronto.

Q. What is your product, service, etc...?

A. I write crime fiction novels.

Q. What makes you laugh?

A. All kinds of things. Lately I really like found comedy, unplanned things caught on video or short video clips online. Slapstick. But I also like a good storyteller.

Q. Who were your influences getting started?

A. I watched a lot of TV growing up and I really liked sitcoms; Welcome Back Kotter, Happy Days, Barney Miller. They were like one-act plays. I liked Mel Brooks movies. I loved the Planet of the Apes movies. I liked Twilight Zone (but that I saw in reruns) and Star Trek. When I moved into writing books I was a big fan of Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy.

Q. What is the biggest challenge for fiction writers today to overcome?

A. We are usually our own worst enemies. Too much second-guessing, too much cutting ourselves off at the knees before getting started. For me, I needed to write a lot of stories that simply weren't very good before I was able to write things that better. But when I started I knew what I was writing wasn't good enough, the same way someone stating to play a musical instrument knows that they aren't any good the first time they pick up the instrument. But we have to work through that stage. I had to write entire short stories to find a scene or even a few sentences that were saying things the way I wanted them said. The temptation to give up can be overwhelming.

Q. What question would you most like to be asked and what is the answer?

A. You received more than a hundred rejection letters before your first acceptance, was it worth it? And the answer is yes.

Q. For an artist who discovers themselves ahead of their time, what is the best thing to do?

A. Keep at it, the world usually catches up. Don't change what you really want to do. When the world does catch up not only will it feel great, you'll have a lot of back catalogue ;).

Q. How did you get there from here? By this I mean, how did you go from G'Narr in 1995 to successful mystery author nearly 20 years later?

A. After G'Narr I got hired to rewrite an action movie and then I wrote a couple more movie scripts that were more drama than comedy. There's some real truth to that old line about dying being easy and comedy being hard. I sold a couple of options but the movies never got made and I couldn't get any productions of my own off the ground. I always felt that the script for G’Narr was good but the production wasn’t… let’s say, ‘what it could have been’ – I’m no director. I was still working on movie crews in Toronto (driver, location scout) and a fellow crew- member, Scott Albert came up with the idea of co-writing a book of short stories about working on a movie crew. The result was Below the Line. I was so happy with the way the book came together that I wrote en entire novel on my own, Dirty Sweet.

Q. Any Easter eggs, inside jokes or behind-the-scene memories that G'Narr fans might get a kick out of?

A. We didn’t really have time for anything like that. Maybe someday we could have a reunion and do an audio commetary, there may things in there I don’t know anything about. My wife is in it about three times. G'Narr is played by cartoonist Randy McIlwaine, the drinking game is take a shot every time a logo had to be digitized out. Almost every crew member ended up playing a part. I got to meet Spider Robinson and tell him how much I loved his story, "God is an Iron."

Q. What's next for John McFetridge?

A. I'm going to write a few more books in the "Eddie Dougherty" series, a cop in Montreal in the 1970s. And I am co-editing, with Kevin J. Anderson, a book of short stories inspired by songs by the band RUSH. Kevin's contribution will be a novella called 2113. Last year Kevin wrote the novel CLOCKWORK ANGELS based on the RUSH album of the same name.

Thanks again John, that was amazing! Be sure to let us know if there is ever a G'Narr cast reunion!

For interested fans I have created a separate page with YouTube links for the entirety of the G'Narr saga!

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