ISSUE 1 VOL 2 PROFILE: Chris Kuriata

Fiction //
Lies I tell Taxi Drivers

read the full text

of Chris Kuriata's "Lies I Tell Taxi Drivers"

HLR: When and where did you write the work published in this issue?

The first draft of “Lies I Tell Taxi Drivers” got written in the summer and I finished revisions in the winter. I write everything longhand in a nice hardcover notebook. It's reassuring to know if my computer files disappear or get corrupted, I'll still have a physical copy of all my work. This way, I don't have to sweat the headache of backing up files on multiple drives.

HLR: Was the story inspired by anything particular?

The story was inspired by a few women I've known over the years who worked in massage parlours. All the scenes are invented; I didn't include any specific anecdotes or things I witnessed, but together these friends and former neighbours guided Kirsten's voice and energy. All the taxi driver scenes, on the other hand, came from real encounters.    

HLR: Do you consider your work to be cross-pollinated by other disciplines? 

I spent a decade editing TV shows (mostly re-enactments of murders, occasionally something cheerful) and that definitely had an influence on the way I write. Often, a story comes to me in a non-linear fashion, so I'll write a number of disorganized scenes first and then work to find their structure. It's the same work flow as film, where you shoot a bunch of random pieces and edit the best parts together when you're done.

HLR: Where is your favourite place to write outside the home?

My finest work has all been drafted at The Mansion House, St Catharines’ oldest tavern. I don't know why, but the atmosphere in there is conducive to getting a lot of work done, especially on a summer afternoon. The tables and walls are made of dark wood and give off a nautical vibe. It reminds me of a line in the opening of Patrick DeWitt's Ablutions, where the bar interior is described as resembling a sunken ship.

Libraries would be perfect for writing too, but they are always overly-lit (for obvious reasons). The best lighting is when it's too dim to see anything beyond your paper.

HLR: How does travel affect your writing?

I haven't traveled outside of the country for quite some time. I don't want to think about the reverse of that question.

HLR: How do the internet and your presence on the internet affect your thinking and writing?

It worries me somewhat. I haven't owned a cellphone for years, so I know nothing about texting and emojis and having access to the internet at all times. When writing stuff set in the present day, I get concerned I'll write phones "wrong" and expose how terribly out of touch I am. One of my favourite authors recently wrote a book whose plot depended heavily on YouTube, but this author clearly didn't understand anything about how YouTube worked and it quickly became really embarrassing to read. I don't want to look like that. Although I've completely bought into the idea that a writer today needs to have an "on-line presence," and I make the effort to tweet and blog, I am part of the last generation to grow up without the internet (I didn't get on-line until I was in my 20s), and as a result I still don't consider the internet to be the same as real life.

HLR: What are you currently reading?

I recently finished Miranda Seymour's fascinating/frustrating/hilarious/tragic Mary Shelley biography. It's amazing how many details of her crazy life she laid down in her journal, and how these events can by corroborated by the journals of her family and friends. Those people wrote down everything! I'm also looking forward to catching up on the latest three volumes of Seth's Palookaville comic. And while it isn't quite Halloween yet, I'll soon be re-reading Tony Burgess' Pontypool Changes Everything.   

Chris Kuriata is a writer from St. Catharines whose short stories have appeared in Taddle Creek and Grain