The Questionless Books Interview: Journalist, Writer, and Critic Bert Archer
In The Questionless Books Interview, I get a whole bunch of books people (from authors to editors to publishers to sales/publicity/production people, booksellers, designers, librarians, readers, etc) to "answer" a series of unspoken "questions". The results highlight a delightful mix of the opportunities and challenges facing our sector: from doom and gloom to sunshine and rainbows, and every irony in between.
Bert Archer was born in Montreal, and raised and educated in Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Dublin and Toronto. He started work as a journalist in 1993, and has worked for many newspapers and magazines as an editor, manager, writer and columnist.
I am... a writer.
I am known to... have written about books, and write about a great many other things.
I do this to... make a living enjoyably.
I do this because... I’m quite a fan of enjoying myself.
I do this when... ever I’m awake.
The way I do this is... by sitting down wherever I am (I’m in a minivan right now) and writing on my laptop.
At his/her core, a Writer is... someone who wonders why you’ve just capitalized the word “writer,” and who then looks down the list of questionless questions and wonders at a great deal more oddly Germanic capitalizations.
As opposed to an Author, who is... someone with a series of distinct, and possibly linked, visions.
A Writer is responsible for... writing whatever she writes as well as she’s able.
As opposed to an Author, who is... ultimately responsible only to himself and that vision, but who ought also really to consider his readers if he’d like to make a living at it.
At its core, Publishing is... the dissemination of media, however it might be constituted.
As opposed to Editing, which is... the improvement, censoring or other generally substantial collaboration with the writer or author.
A Publisher should always... ask themselves why they’re publishing this particular thing.
As opposed to an Editor, who should always... juggle her three bosses, the work, the writer and the audience.
A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... a load off one’s mind.
As opposed to a Book that's ready to be read by others, which is... a thing of beauty and a joy 'til next season.
A Manuscript should always... be the opening gambit in a game of table tennis.
As opposed to a Book, which should always... be a piece of the world.
At its core, Bookselling is... going to have to collect its thoughts and maybe buy a computer.
As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... just horrible.
The smallest unit of narrative is... a conjunction.
The biggest reason to anticipate the future is... I have no reason to believe there is a reason to anticipate the future.
The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... the certainty that it will seem worse than the present and past, without any reason whatsoever.
In the future we will all... be younger, if Bob Dylan is to be believed.
At his/her core, a Reader is... someone with a basic desire, and possibly an instinct, to engage with at least one other person.
However, the ideal Reader is... you.