Recently Quarter Castle Publishing interviewed Bretton.
QCP: When did you decide to become a writer?
I decided to become a journalist first. I decided to become a journalist during my first undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge and joined the student newspaper. From my late teens on, I thought about becoming a writer but didn’t seriously think about it until my late 20s. I didn’t really act upon it until my early 30s.
QCP: Do you write every day? If not, how many days do you dedicate to writing?
Regrettably, with a busy full-time job, I can’t. I write every weekend and when that is going well, sometimes I edit my writing at nights during the week.
Short stories I tend to write free style. I have an “idea book” that I write ideas in, subjects or photos or images that strike me, stories I’ve ripped out of newspapers. Then once I have five or six key points on the same theme that seem to go together, I start to write.
QCP: What is the hardest thing about writing?
In writing short stories, it’s knowing when they are done. I constantly play with them, even after they’re published. I am good at getting my stories to the 70 percent mark in terms of quality; it’s the last 25 per cent that’s tough.
QCP: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Join a writer’s circle. Join a writer’s federation. Take advice but ultimately follow your own heart. Only you know what you want to say, but be truly honest with yourself about that.
I have just published a biography of a unique and fascinating Japanese-Canadian doctor from my home town. Rebel With A Cause: The Doc Nikaido Story is a compelling account of how Canada’s shameful treatment of Japanese-Canadians during Second World War impacted Dr. Harry Nikaido.
Turning his back on material things, “Doc” practised medicine in small-town Alberta, living a bohemian lifestyle and charging no more for his services than what he absolutely needed to survive. He adopted a virtual vow of poverty in order to pay little or no income tax over his 24-year career to a Canadian government whom he never forgave for the forcible resettlement of his family and 22,000 other Japanese-Canadians from British Columbia during World War II.
QCP: Where did the idea for The Beggar’s Shoe Box come from?
I’ve worked in downtown Halifax for the past dozen years. A few of the older street people have been panhandling downtown that whole time. I know them all to see them and a few by name. I began to wonder how much they could potentially know about all of us who walk by them most days and the story grew from there.
QCP: How can others learn more about you and your writing?