Sam Wiebe is the author of the Vancouver crime novels Cut You Down, Invisible Dead, and Last of the Independents. Wiebe’s work has won an Arthur Ellis award and the Kobo Emerging Writers Prize and been shortlisted for the Shamus Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award. His short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Spinetingler, and subTerrain, and he was the 2016 Vancouver Public Library Writer in Residence. Visit samwiebe.com or follow at @sam_wiebe
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?
I always wanted to write, but I didn’t get serious until the end of college when I realized it was either write a novel or put that dream on hold. I stole time on the bus and in library carrels, and late at night.
Can you tell us a little about what kind of book(s) you’ve written so far?
I write crime novels set in Vancouver. My latest, CUT YOU DOWN, is about the search for a missing student who disappeared in the wake of a college scandal with a quarter of a million dollars.
What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them? Would you ever write anything other than your genre?
Crime fiction is the genre I write in, for that fact that it’s both the most entertaining, and the most engaged with contemporary issues. Detective novels are ultimately about work, which fascinates me.
Can you tell us about your path to publication?
I started with short stories and got a couple published while working on my first novel, Last of the Independents. I entered that in an unpublished manuscript competition sponsored by Dundurn Press, and they liked it enough to want to publish it. In the meantime, I wrote a second novel, Invisible Dead, and submitted it to agents.
What are some of your go-to genres when reading and who are some of your favorite authors? What is it you love about those genres?
There are a lot of great writers in the crime fiction genre. Tana French and Peter Temple are two contemporary writers I admire. And I really like the classics, like Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer series.
Are you a pantser, a plotter or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between. It depends on the project.
When you first get an idea, how long until you know you’re ready to begin writing and what does that progression look like?
It depends. Sometimes it’s a very quick process, and other times it takes years for connections to form and an idea becomes compelling enough to become a novel.
What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?
I write when my girlfriend goes to work. I used to write by hand, on notepads, but for my latest project, I’m doing the first draft on a computer.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
You’re not in competition with other writers—their successes, their advances, take nothing away from your own. There’s enough space for everyone.
I know it’s cliché, but you have to write what you love to read. Nothing is worse than genre pandering. And since you can’t predict the whims of the market, it’s best to go in with something you feel strongly about.
It is such a crazy and competitive market. How do you tackle the marketing and promotion of your books?
I’m on Facebook (facebook.com/wiebesam) and Twitter (@sam_wiebe), and I have a website which I update regularly, samwiebe.com. A lot of marketing is off-putting to me, and I have to remind myself that it’s about the book—the book deserves to find an audience, and I’m duty bound to help that any way I can. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t have written it in the first place.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing? What about the process of trying to get published?
Be genuine, and look for people who believe in the work. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard.
Anything else you would like to add or talk about?
CUT YOU DOWN comes out February 13th, 2018, from Random House Canada and Quercus USA.
Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?
Website: samwiebe.com Online at: @sam_wiebe Facebook.com/wiebesam