Coach House Books asks Tanya Chapman a few things about King
CH: Your protagonist, Hazel, has run away from her life and is trying to start a new, simpler one. Do you think that's possible?
TC: Sure! The most important decision you make in this life is who you surround yourself with. If you look around and realize that you have a million great friends, then chances are that you're okay.But if everyone kinda … sucks, then maybe you should re-evaluate what you're doing with yourself. It's human evolution – everyone does it. But then, let's not forget that you can't really run away from yourself – your life sure – but not yourself. My dad always used to say 'wherever you go, there you are.'
CH: It seems like every woman has a motorcycle-riding, beer-drinking, guitar-playing, leather-jacket-wearing man in her past. What's so appealing about a bad boy?
TC: What isn't appealing?!
CH: King is the perfect name for that kind of guy. How did you arrive at it? Do you know any Kings?
TC: Everyone knows a King but maybe he just doesn't call himself that. I had this one wonderful ex who would stand on street corners and yell, 'I'm King! Tiny King of the Jungle!' I loved him for that. Well, that and the fact that he was a motorcycle-riding, beer-drinking, guitar-playing, leather-jacket-wearing guy.
CH: How did you feel about King as you wrote the book? He's simultaneously charming and frustrating – how did you manage that?
TC: That was a toughie, to be honest. I kept swinging back and forth between making him too nice and then too mean. I knew that I was messing up when I read the last chapter and wanted to yell 'what the heck are you doing there?' at Hazel.
CH: Hazel very much wants to believe that love conquers all. Without spoiling the ending, do you think that it can?
TC: I wish I knew the answer – remember the swinging back and forth?
CH: Hazel sets up her new life in a trailer park. She seems torn between loving the simplicity of a smaller life and feeling a little embarrassed about living there. Have you ever lived in a trailer park? How do you think Hazel should feel about it?
TC: When we were growing up, we didn't have a lot of money – okay we didn't have any – but I never remembered being embarrassed about it because I didn't know anything else. I thought perfectly cooked Kraft Dinner was as good as it got (I hate it when the noodles are too mushy). But I can imagine that if you had something and then you lost it, whether it was your choice or not, then you would always haul those little judgements along with you, just for the sake of messing with your own head.
CH: You've been in rock bands. What instrument did you play? What kind of music? Did it affect how you depicted King's band?
TC: I was the singer-songwriter person – alt-pop or whatever they called it at the time. I play a little guitar – mastered five chords that I'm quite proud of – but I would never let myself into my own band. I'm that horrible. I also used to book a club and so I was always around musicians: at night, in the practice space, during the day. It's funny because you learn music stuff from just being there. You live and breathe it. I can talk about gear, chord progressions and counter melody like nobody's business but still, five chords. I think that experience made the band guys in the book real in a way that I couldn't have gotten to if I hadn't had it in my life.
CH: Hazel likes to float away her troubles in an old quarry. Are you a swimmer? Do you believe that water can dissolve your problems for a little while?
TC: I believe that almost anything can dissolve away your troubles for a little while. Everyone gets a reprieve, or they should. They just have to find the formula. I love swimming, I love just being by the water; there's something about it that smoothes all those frazzled ends.
CH: Scuba diving is an odd hobby. Why does Hazel choose it? Have you ever tried it?
TC: No, I've never tried it; that's me living out a dream. I figure that if Hazel likes to float, then what's better than to have underwater floating? Take it to the next level. Evolution.
CH: Hazel has a job in a thrift shop, which is perfect for her, since she loves sparkles and retro-glamour. What's the best thing you've ever found second-hand?
TC: I used to go to this shop in Vancouver called The Underground. It had everything! I was there once trying on a dress and the sales clerk told me it was PJ Harvey's. The dress didn't fit but I bought it anyway, just to have it in my closet. But honestly, man, that was one ugly dress!