Joe Kertes

September 2014

with Meaghan Strimas

Joe Kertes is a member of the HLR's advisory board. We couldn't resist sharing his thoughts on how he carves out time to write, and our excitement about his new book, The Afterlife of Stars, with you.

photo: Caroline Forbes

HLR: How do you schedule time to write? 

JK: Normally I write early in the morning, from 5:30 or so to 7:30, but when a book is flying along, I’ll write late at night, in the middle of the night, on the highway to work, during a concert. My latest novel, The Afterlife of Stars, ruled my life, such that I couldn’t escape it. I was running after the characters to write down what they were saying, and the novel was running after me wherever I went.

HLR: What obstacles (real and imagined) make it a challenge for you to find time to write, and how have you dealt with them?

JK: I have a full-time job, very full-time, but because I am so busy, the writing is a perfect retreat from my life, especially The Afterlife of Stars. It was like visiting an exotic place that I longed each day to return to. So life being what it is can be an obstacle or an opportunity.

HLR: Do you find you work better when your schedule is clear, or when you are pressed to find time?

JK: A clear schedule is unrealistic for me no matter what, so I’ve learned to work with it and around it. I used to hate the drive to work, for instance, but now I see it as my quiet time to work out fictional scenes in my head. If I waited for my schedule to be clear, I’d never write a thing.

Joseph Kertes founded Humber College's creative writing and comedy programs. He is currently Humber's Dean of Creative and Performing Arts and is a recipient of numerous awards for teaching and innovation. His first novel, Winter Tulips, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. Boardwalk, his second novel, and two children's books, The Gift and The Red Corduroy Shirt, met with critical acclaim. His novel, Gratitude, won a Canadian National Jewish Book Award and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. Kertes has also been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the CBC Literary Award. His latest novel is called The Afterlife of Stars.