Background: I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Here, I studied journalism and advertising at Red River College and worked as a young upstart in both these areas. I later moved east to Toronto, then Hamilton, then to my current home town, Montreal. I have been married to the same girl since forever and we have three all-growed-up daughters.
I do this for a living: Except for a couple of unpleasant (but luckily, fairly short) intervals, I’ve been able to earn my keep on the strength of my writing chops — as a broadcaster, jazz journalist, multimedia producer-director and marketer, which I still do via my own agency. Along the way, I also developed and explored artistic writing, first as a lyricist, then an author.
I’ve covered the waterfront: Whether commercial or artistic, my work has always been about people and their stories, in areas as diverse as the agricultural cooperative movement, the birth of artificial intelligence, and the rise and fall of avant garde jazz.
Ah, yes, the music… I’ve pretty much always had a soft spot for music. I began my professional career doing a jazz documentary radio series. My lyric-writing credits include one album, two singles and a movie soundtrack feature. I’ve produced concerts and seminars, and worked as a publisher and distributor with independent artists in Europe and Canada. And there are at least two books on my write-this-before-you-die list that are based in and around music.
Books: It takes talent, imagination and hard work to catch someone’s attention and sell them something in 1.5 seconds as they drive past your billboard or skim past your magazine ad. I’ve done this stuff, and gained immeasurable experience from the work and from the designers, photographers and other creative-types I’ve worked with. But in my case it was the journalistic projects that got me going deeper. After that it was a short leap from doing long-form radio work to writing full-length books.
I had always used a lot of interviews for radio, and this too was a natural transition. In fact I started my first non-fiction book by first doing the interviews, then building the story out from there. But fiction is different. Fiction is scary – as in no safety net. And fiction is liberating – as in no boundaries or limits. Fiction is highly addictive…
This Brother is Free is my first novel. I have started my second and as mentioned I do have a must-write list, short but challenging.
Publishing: Like the music industry, book publishing is facing a major upheaval on several disruptive fronts – the shift from paper to digits, from brick-and-mortar to online sales, from static words-only to full-blown multimedia, interactive documents, and, far from having the least impact, the ability of writers to bypass their services altogether. Ignatz Publishing was started by my wife and me for this purpose, not only as a vehicle for our first title, but also for any and all other works that come our way, whatever their shape, form or subject. This is crazy-exciting stuff. The gatekeepers, rule-makers and other nay-sayers are dying out. Anyone can play. And the price of admission is falling by the day.
I got my first taste of the indie scene back in my youth, through my encounter with a fantastically bizarre avant garde ensemble in Holland, led by drummer Han Bennink, shown here circa 1970. These guys were putting out records on their own label long before “indie” became a familiar term and a common practice. But that’s another story…
Suffice it to say here that we are excited about the whole field, with all its forms, functions, bells and whistles, and new ways and means of connecting. I intend to use this blog to document the adventure, and I hope you will come along for the ride. Stay tuned!