Friday, June 29, 2012

Author Guest Post: Ian Truman, Author of Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair

In association with Innovative Online Book Tours, Jersey Girl Sizzling Book Reviews welcomes Ian Truman, author of Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair!

I have been invited to write this guest blog and I was looking for a topic that would kinda set it apart from most blogs about writing. A lot of my work is set in real places, which I describe as vividly as possible. I had this short story that that was called A Lone Soul that was simply the story of an old man who was closing down his shop in a gentrified part of the city. He then takes a walk down St-Laurent Street towards the old port and the river and that's all you'll get if you don't want me to spoil it. That said, the angle I chose to use in that story was to simply be as descriptive as possible in order to be detached from the subject. It was compared by one of my creative writing teachers to The Street by Mordecai Richler, which is no small compliment. That was a few years ago and that was the moment I realized that "place" was incredibly important to my work, so I will present to you a few places that have inspired me over the years. If you ever visit Montreal, I hope you take the time to visit a few of them.

Griffintown: The historic borough of Griffintown is being razed as you read these lines (Summer of 2012) but I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to have worked in one of the urban factories that was the trademark of Griffintown. Sadly, the city did not see fit to protect a lot of these bicentennial (sometimes more) buildings and have green lit gigantic condominium projects to be built on the grounds of this historically working class neighborhood. Get a chance to check it out before it is all gone, it sure has inspired me. Start around Ottawa Street and head towards the south-west until you reach Patrick Street and the Canal. I mostly used this setting for poems I wrote in a series titled Waiting To Die. I would also recommend you look up the plays On The Job, Nothing To Lose, and Balconville by one of my favorite authors, David Fennario.

The Italian Social Club: The best place to feel like you are in a Scorsese movie is The Italian Social Club located on the corner of St-Viateur and De L'esplanade. Sure, the neighborhood is now filled with rich yuppies and they're kicking out artists every day, but as long as the cafe live on, you'll get a souvenir of why Mile-End was the place to be for over a decade. My next crime project (Memoirs of a Hit-Men) will be based on this location for a lot of its calmer scenes.

Masson Street: The family friendly neighborhood of Rosemont is booming with life and Masson Street is still somewhat of a city secret. The working class is still strong in the area even though there are numerous condominium projects sprawling here and there. I love this place, I'd like to spend the rest of my days here. If you ever want to see what life of a Montrealer is outside of tourist traps, this would be it. Don't miss: Jovy's Onion Bagels, Tic-Tac-Toc's toy store (if you got kids). Sadly, Masson Street still lacks a very good cafe, and with Starbucks just opening in the middle of it, such a dream might never happen. Some segments of Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair are inspired by this area.

Concordia University: Located in the heart of downtown Montreal, Concordia University is definitely a place to be if you want to study creative writing. With (still) affordable tuition for Quebec residents, I think the price for foreign students is not so high since there is an increase in foreign admissions every year. The library is well deserved and has focused on high tech and online databases, which opens up countless possibilities. The historic Irish-Scottish background of the University is still strong even though you'll probably hear 78 different languages at the same time just by sitting in the student hall. Top spot to write: 12th floor of the EV building. There's a small lounge with big windows: a great view of the city. I don't think I've written specifically about this spot or the university itself, but it was a great place to study still.

Montreal-East: You need an industrial backdrop and a piss-poor neighborhood to inspire your trashy or gritty novel, Montreal-East is the place to be. Of course, it might sound judgmental to say it's piss poor, but it is. I would know, I've worked there for years and I used to live in the nearby borough of Tetreaultville, which is basically across the street. If you want rusty, closed down factories, World War II era foundries and old refineries, that's the place you want to go to. There are no cafes that I know of or actually any place you could sit down. As far as I know the last restaurant in the entire "city" is on Notre-Dame and Broadway. The most "interesting" factories are on Durocher and Marien Streets south of Sherbrooke. My entire first novel, The Factory Line, was inspired by my life during these "factory years."

L'Assomption: You need a typical, one-factory-town, L'Assomption is where I go for half of the narrative for my next project (A Teenage Suicide) the place is just far enough to be called the country, just close enough for you not to waste your time driving. It's got an old college, a few good looking houses, a lot of ugly houses, and a small Main street that has the necessary theater, cafes and delis. There's a beautiful steel bridge next to the town's church. Go as far as L'Assomption College, don't bother going in any further.

Hochelaga: Much like the south-west, Hochelaga was a lowdown, working class, crime ridden neighborhood. The only difference is that it was the French who lived there instead of the Irish. The crime rate has gone down dramatically, but it still smells like beer and cigarettes all over the place. This is still where you go to meet punk rockers in the city and you need a torn shirt at goodwill. A surprise construction boom in the last three years has dramatically changed the neighborhood, but as I lived there for years prior to gentrification, I can say it was for the best because that place was a dump. The best place for coffee is Atomic Cafe, but you'll have to endure their horrible vintage-techno music. I know I can't take it anymore. The same building is host to the "7e" indie video store and they do have an impressive collection. Some of my characters for Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair have spent their youth in Hochelaga and it does occupy a fair portion of the storyline.

Of course, there are dozen other places you could visit in the city, I just wanted to talk about a few of the places that are less visited, or that have changed so much in the last few years that they don't have the same feel anymore.

Times are changing and I just feel like slowing down right now.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tour.

Take care,

Ian Truman

About The Author:

I am from a working class family and I am proud of my origins. For the last seven years, I have been employed as an assembly line worker, a forklift driver, a park ranger, a warehouse clerk, a janitor, an industrial laundry operator, a warehouse clerk some more and still am to this day.

I have gone back to school and just graduated from Concordia with a major in Creative Writing and a minor in Political Science.

I like to write for the rest of us and hope you will enjoy my work.


BUY THE BOOK: Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair

Book Description: Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair

Samuel Lee has known three days of freedom in the last eighteen years. Three days to come out of prison, see his daughter, settle a score and go back in again, for good this time. 

Told in the tradition of the best literary noir, Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair is a modern, lowdown and gritty take on the genre. 

Inspired by the cinema of Akira Kurosawa and Samuel Fuller as well as the music of Tom Waits, Sage Francis, Neurosis and Marilyn Manson, it is a novel that is sure to please anyone who has ever found themselves trapped and cast aside from the world. 

Book Excerpt: Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair

Donnaconna Institution
Maximum Security
145 miles north-east of Montreal
267 inmates
27% serving life sentences


Hey kid.

I know you requested to be here in person but your mother had enough sense not to allow it. You're not eighteen yet, so her decision is final and I think she made the right call. Donnaconna Federal prison ain't no place for a girl like you.

Now, I know I'm not much of a father, probably because I never had the chance to be one but I am sorry I never got to be there for you. Your grandfather came to visit a few weeks ago. I'm glad to see that there's at least one person from my side of the family who's looking out for you. He told me you applied to circus school in Montreal. I never thought you could go to school for that, but he says your heart is set on it. So my heart is now set on it too. I just hope I get to see one of your shows one day. If you'll have me, of course.

I guess what I want to say is, I ain't got much, but I do have a little money set aside. Only seven thousand or so, but it's something. It's all legit money, so don't worry about how I raised it. I don't do drugs and I've quit drinking years ago. They don't pay much here in prison, but I'm working the laundry service for 5.50 a day. I've been behaving well, and I got lucky enough to get on a Corcan program twice. It pays a little more and it gives me credits and experience to work when I get out. Now, the money is yours whether you want it or not. I don't have much use for it in here.

Your mother said you wanted to know what happened that day, said you were pretty insistent about it. I don't know if it is out of anger, which I wouldn't hold against you, or if it is out of compassion, but if you think you are old enough to hear these things, I'm ready to tell you.

I don't know everything for sure, but it was pretty easy to figure out. The news covered the story plenty. I had court records and word of mouth from friends and friends of friends and so on. Anything I didn't know for sure, I just added in the details that made the most sense. Now, there is still time for you to forget about this because I'm not going to make it pretty for you. I may be a murderer, but a liar is not something I am. I won't try to get you on my side either. I will tell it like it was and let you decide for yourself.

You have to understand that I hadn't seen you at that point except in pictures. And even then, it was Mikey who had shown it to me while I was inside. Alice ... Well, I thought your mother probably had better places to be or better people to be with. She can say whatever she wants. She never supported me in any way and that is one thing she can't deny.

But you should've seen yourself in that picture. You were beautiful. Oh yes! Those pure green eyes, brown hair, lovable little cheeks, and you wore a little princess outfit with a tiara and a wand. It was nothing too corny. All green with butterfly wings. A fairy princess or something. I'd spend days looking at that picture.

That picture was taken a year prior to that night in the bar. I didn't know what to expect anymore. How much had you grown? Had you grown all your baby teeth? Did you like music? Of course, everybody likes music, but what kind and just how much? And I remembered an oath I made to myself back in prison. I swore I'd find me a good guitar when I got out, and I would sing you all the songs I had written about you. And two years is plenty of time to work on songs, let me tell you that.

I imagined myself on a stool, playing the cords on an acoustic guitar and you'd be dancing and twirling and all of that. What can I say? You were my light. Kept me straight and out of trouble, and to this day you still do. It is strange how I've never been in trouble while I've been in prison, either in Cowansville or here in Donnaconna. I can assure you that there are plenty of ways to get into trouble in here, but I never did thanks to you. Those three days of freedom earned me a lifetime in prison, but I have been at peace ever since, knowing you were alright out there.

In so many ways, you saved me without you even knowing it so I swore I would make sure to tell you someday, what went down and why it happened and now you are asking me just that. I'm not even looking for salvation here, maybe just understanding and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a long hard road. I just hope you can understand that.

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