David Bergen: For this novel, there was no one specific book, though The Red and the Black and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man were humming in the background. And Ecclesiastes. And Flaubert.
IFOA: Leaving Tomorrow focuses on young Arthur finding his place in his family and the world. How did you go about creating such a psychologically compelling character?
Bergen: I try to figure out what the character is pushing against. That is my starting point, and usually that leads to other discoveries. Nothing is obvious, and usually the little moments are the ones in which the character reveals himself.
IFOA: What was it like having one of your novels (The Age of Hope) selected to be part of CBC’s Canada Reads in 2013?
Bergen: Strange. Canada Reads is geared towards discussions of “issues” or “relevance,” and certain novels are not inclined that way. That said, I was pleased to have attention paid to The Age of Hope. Good people at Canada Reads, and I got to meet Ron MacLean.
IFOA: Do you have a writing regiment?
Bergen: When I am writing and lucky enough to be in the midst of a novel, I write five days a week, six hours a day, at my office in the Exchange in Winnipeg. I aim for five hundred words a day.
IFOA: What was the best piece of writing you read in the past year?
Bergen: Traveler of the Century by Andrés Neuman.
David Bergen is the award-winning author of eight novels, including The Time in Between, winner of the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize. See David on November 2 as he reads from his latest, Leaving Tomorrow, an emotionally powerful story about a hopeful young man who yearns for a larger life outside of his small town in Alberta.