Craig Davidson certainly enthralled us a few years ago with his book Cataract City. By writing it he certainly had us pondering our upbringings and wondering about the world we have around us for those we are raising in it. So a memoir by him describing a year he spent driving a school bus should be as equally enthralling. Hence Precious Cargo: My Year Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077 should be equally enthralling.
1) First off, could you give an outline of Precious Cargo?
Well, it’s pretty much a memoir about my year driving a school bus. An account of that year, the students I met onboard the bus, and the stories we shared with each other.
2) What was your motivation to write Precious Cargo? Is there anything you hope writing it will do?
I guess it was just a matter of that year feeling very profound to me—so much so that I was moved to write about it, which has never happened to me before. I don’t think I harbour any hopes beyond the hope that I did a good job, treated the subject matter and those kids and their families respectfully and lovingly, and gave a true and honest account of that year and what it meant to me.
3) Are there any common themes between Cataract City and Precious Cargo? Both books seem to deal quite a bit with youth and upbringing.
I’m not sure there are. You could probably find some if you really tried, bent your mind to the task, but there wasn’t any specific linkage I was going for or that seemed to jump out to me now, thinking about it. They’re both really important books to me, one an account—in some ways—of my own childhood, and this new book a real-life account of a slice of some other people’s childhoods. So there’s that element, I guess.
4) Are you planning a book tour with Precious Cargo? If yes, are there dates you are excited to partake in. Are book tours and public readings something you enjoy doing?
I’m in the midst of a small tour right now, but it’s primarily a press tour, as I guess you’d call it. Just radio shows and newspaper interviews, not a lot of readings. They’re something I enjoy doing to a degree, yes, but also there’s a worry—perhaps a small one, or perhaps one that will become more profound depending on how things go with this book—that I might be looked upon as some kind of an expert or advocate on a subject that I would never claim an expertise in. The book was written from a position of ignorance of a lot of things, including special needs and what that means and how society looks at adults or children who have some of the conditions presented in the children I drove. So while I’m happy to speak on what I learned, and hold opinions, they are not ironclad and are constantly shifting because it is a topic that seems to me so vast, and so nuanced, that I often feel helpless in trying to talk about it, thinking that I’m not finding the right words or expressing myself in the way that is truest and more importantly, respectful towards those kids. So … ask me again a year from now. We’ll see how I’m feeling.
5) Who are your favourite writers? What are your reading right now?
Oh, all over the map. Stephen King. Thom Jones. Atwood. Didion. Goes on and on. I’m reading a lot of Robert R. McCammon right now. He rocks my socks off.
6) Has your writing changed much since you first started? If yes, how so?
I’m not sure it has. Or maybe. Probably unavoidably, yes. I’m not sure I can say how. I was disciplined from the start, in terms of putting myself on the grindstone and just, yeah, grinding out work. A kind of work ethic. If anything, that obsessional quality has slackened with having a wife and a child—can’t go squirreling myself away for days-long writing sessions with a family. Not the key to family harmony.
7) Is there much difference between the writing styles of Nick Cutter and Craig Davidson. If yes, how so?
I would say much. I’d say I’m a little more unhinged writing as Cutter, but that’s more a function of the subject matter and the flights of fancy one can occasionally take when writing horror. I bring the same discipline and focus no matter what hat I’m wearing.
8) You seem to have an active role on social-media apps like Facebook and Twitter. How do you like using those programs?
Well, I’m glad you think so. I thing real Twitter-ers and Facebookers can see that I’m kinda just plopping stuff up on those apps just to be like, “Hey, I’m here! I’m Twittering, just like a real, socially-engaged writer!” I think it’s a skill, to be really funny and wise and interesting and prolific on those platforms. It’s not really my bag. But I struggle along.
9) Are you working on anything new right now? If yes, are there details you care to share?
I’ve got a new collection of stories coming out next year, maybe, or whenever the publisher feels like publishing them. And a new Cutter book, Little Heaven, slated for Jan 2017.
10) Your bios. have you listed living in Toronto right now. How do you like living there? Does the city’s cultural scene help you with your writing at all?
Yeah, I’m in Toronto. I’m a bit of a hermit. I play basketball with a few writers, poker with a few writers, go to the odd event. I think there’s certainly a vibrancy to the scene, but I’m feeling more and more like one of those mid-career writers and the scene, as it is, seems to belong (as it should) to the young. I’m happy fogey it up on my own.
11) Any good advice for starting out or wannbe writers?
Butt in chair. Advice as old as time. Don’t wait on the muse. She’s got better things to do.