The book that changed your life: Ian Weir

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      The annual Word Vancouver festival is back again with a massively varied menu of author readings, workshops, and events, set to run at venues around town from September 24 to 28. As part of the runup, we asked some of the writers on the bill to tell us about the reading experiences that shaped them. Which books gripped their imaginations early on? Which ones showed them what words can be made to do?

      Here’s what Vancouver’s Ian Weir told us. He’s a prolific playwright and screenwriter, not to mention the author of such acclaimed fictions as Daniel O’Thunder. He’ll read from his latest novel, Will Starling, at 12:15 p.m. on September 28, in the fest’s Canada Writes Tent outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

      Well, Lord of the Rings kept me locked in a hotel room for the first half of a family vacation to Hawaii, and a dog-eared Beowulf (Penguin Classics translation) was the first book that I carried around conspicuously as a teenaged self-branding exercise.

      But the book that actually changed my life? I’ll have to go with A Bear Called Paddington. Michael Bond’s Paddington series captivated me early in my reading life, and left me with—among other legacies—the wistful notion that everything truly wonderful happens mainly in London.  This candle continues to glimmer half a century later, and in fact shines through the pages of both of my own novels.

      And although I can’t say that Paddington directly inspired me to be a writer, his famous misadventure with Mr. Curry’s dinner table stands as the best cautionary metaphor for the revision process that I have ever encountered. To wit: when faced with a first draft that wobbles, be very certain that you’re not dealing with a broken-backed structure before you start sawing bits off the ends of each leg in turn. Otherwise you end up with a ridiculously low table that wobbles.