Interview with Andrew Kaufman

Andrew Kaufman in the bookshop

Andrew Kaufman - Born Weird1. Born Weird is a fantastic 'un-put-downable' book! Where did you get your inspiration for the story?

"Born Weird," is a story about family and I got my inspiration from my family, but not directly. Although several members of my family still don't believe me, there is no particular member of my family that inspired any of the characters. The inspiration came from having a family, being part of a family—experiencing that strange, seemingly paradoxical nature of families where they love you like no one else, while simultaneously being harder and more demanding on you than anyone else could possible be. All in the name of love. It's that experience that I've tried to exaggerate, make mythic, in "Born Weird."

2. I love the word 'Blursings'. Have you coined any other words and can you tell us what they mean?!

I firmly believe that everyone should be making up their own words, all the time. Never forget that dictionaries are product, nothing more, so their authority over what are 'real' words and what aren't is completely self-serving. Here are some of mine...

Digippear: (vb.) The use of computer technology as a technique to avoid unwanted or feared issues and conversations. I tried to talk to him about his taxes but he digippearred into Facebook.

Overchill: (vb.) The tendency for corporations to use modern air conditioning systems to excess. Yes, I know it's August and I'm wearing a cardigan but they really overchill my cubicle.

Birony: (adj.) The ability or compulsion to appreciate something simultaneously on both a sincere and ironic level. David's appreciation of Tom Baker's Dr. Who is very bironical.

Breadsinner: (noun) A man experiencing guilt and shame because he stays home to raise the kids while his wife provides economically. We won't get Bill to come to Vegas with us because he's become a breadsinner.

3. Who was your favourite character in The Tiny Wife?

Definitely, without a doubt, the Man in the Purple Hat. He's just such an enigma to me. Why is he doing these things? What drives him? He seems like the villain in the story, and he's definitely trouble, yet there's a noble purpose about him. He truly believes he's inflicting these things on people for their own good. I'm really fascinated by this
character. I think, actually I'm positive, to be honest, I've already started writing about him again.

4. We'd love to hear about your next project that you're working on – please can you tell us about it?

I'm wary of talking too much about it. It's still really embryonic. I'm kind of superstitious about this. There's a practical reason as well—talking about a project is way more fun than actually doing it, of doing the work of writing it. I find that if I talk too much about it, I find that I never finish it. But it's about love, all kinds of love, the distance between how we think about love and how we enact it in our everyday lives. What else is there to write about?

5. Who is your favourite author at the moment and why?

But there are so many favorites! Salinger, because in the absence of adjectives he can make me feel a certain way about a character. Chris Adrien because of his plot. Aimee Bender because I just wish I were her.

6. Many Canadian writers are extremely successful internationally, why do you think that is?

Honestly, I think the weather has a lot to do with it. We're a cold country, where for months and months you're forced to spend your time indoors. These are perfect conditions to get writing done, which is after all, basically a desk job. But I also think our proximity to the States is highly influential too. We're like America, but we're a little bit different, and that difference makes so many things strangely visible. Like a Catholic looking at a Protestant.

7. What is the weirdest country you've visited, what is your favourite country you've visited, and where would you like to
visit next?

I lived for a couple of months in Zipolite, a village on the west coast of Mexico, down near the Guatemalan boarder. It was a backpacking place, filled with travellers and while not really indicative of Mexican culture, it was definitely the weirdest country I've ever visited. My favorite country that I've ever visited is Spain, but not really Spain, more like Barcelona—and not even all of Barcelona, just the area around La Rambla. I felt really at home on those streets. The thing is, I'm not really a traveller. I'm a homebody. I like waking up in the same bed everyday, knowing where my favorite coffee shop is. So I don't travel that much, and when I do, it's pretty reluctantly. So maybe the next place I'd like to visit would be a stretch of time where there are no alarms and no surprises and everything is peaceful. That's a place I'd really love to visit.