A. Colin Wright
A. Colin Wright is an award-winning author of plays, novels, short stories, journalism and other non-fiction. He has published a major book and many acedemic articles on Russian and Comparative Literature.
Born in 1938 in Chelmsford, England, and educated at Pembroke College, Camridge (with a doctorate in Modern Languages), he came to Canada in 1964 and now lives in Kingston, Ontario, where is Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University. He is married, with two sons.
His short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals in Canada and England. Two of his plays have been winners or finalists in the Threatre BC National Playwriting Competition, and another was winner of the 1995 Gladys Cameron Watt Award in the Ottawa Little Theatre One-Act Playwriting Competition. In addition he is active as director and actor in the theatre.
As well as Russian, he is fluent in French, German and Italian, has basic Spanish and elementary knowledge of Scottish Gaelic. He has also acted as a leader for Craig Travel on trips to Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, China, Southern India and Nort Atlantic Islands.
Directing: (Domino Theatre, Kingston)
Ladies in Retirement (assistant director)
The Importance of Being Ernest
The Night of the Iguana
The Freedom of the City
The Troll King, Monsieur Ballon and two other roles, Peer Gynt
Malvolia, Twelfth Night
First Voice, Under Milk Wood
Rosenberg, Amadeus(Theatre 5 and Grand Theatre, Kingston)
Father Jack, Dancing at Lughnasa (Domino Theatre, Kingston)
Claude Amory, Black Coffee (Domino Theatre, Kingston)
Tell us what makes you proud to be a writer from Kingston, Ontario, Canada? Canadian literature is of course well known, but I’d regard myself as a British and international writer rather than just a Canadian one. I was born in Chelmsford, Essex, England. After serving as a linguist in the British Royal Air Force (learning Russian), I attended Cambridge University, where I earned M.A and Ph.D degrees. In 1962 I lived for six months in Sassari, Sardinia, followed the next year by a longer period in Reggio Calabria. I speak five languages reasonably fluently, and can stumble along in two more. In 1964, after a year’s study at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), I was appointed professor of Russian at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I remained at Queen’s until retirement in 1999 and still reside in Kingston. I am married and have two grown sons.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? My French/German teacher at school in England, who subsequently became a writer of detective novels.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? At a relatively early age, I read a book on English history from the local children’s library. I decided to dramatize the kings of England, using paper cut-outs as puppets. The project didn’t get very far, but I still have a few pages of elementary dialogue, such as William II dying by an arrow in the New Forest, with him falling off his horse and saying “Oh blow! It was in 1956 that I began writing with the intension of being published, but I wasn’t first published until 1967.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and why? Encouraged by a teacher at grammar school in England, I just wanted to write, trying short stories — which were so terrible that I haven’t the courage to reread them. I studied French, German and Russian, which included their literatures, at Cambridge University and then taught Russian Language and Literature at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada) for 35 years. I’ve always regarded literature as a serious activity which should challenge readers; thus I dislike post-modernism and simple stories about everyday life, particularly if there’s not much plot. Then, when I was teaching at University, I published academic articles on Russian and comparative literature, including a major book on Mikhail Bulgakov. But I still wrote novels, short stories and plays.
Do you come up with your title (s) before or after you write the manuscript (s)? Depends. With my current novel, Sardinian Silver, the title really suggested itself: the name of an actual wine which seemed appropriate symbolically.
Tell us why you write the genre (s) that you write? Well I have written academic works (many articles and a major book published by University of Toronto Press, Mikhail Bulgakov; Life and Interpretations.) I’ve published about twenty short stories, written novels and plays (some performed locally). In fact I think I’ve written everything–even some journalism–except poetry, which I don’t relate to. Basically I choose whatever genre seems most appropriate.
Tell us your most rewarding experience while in the writing process? Crafting something into good writing.
Tell us your most negative experience while in the writing process? Writer’s block, which I’ve been suffering from for a while now.
Tell us your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Having things appreciated by an audience.
Tell us your most negative experience in your publishing journey? Sending out endless query letters to no avail.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Just keep at it if you’re sure you want that, but be sure that you do.
Who Is Your Favorite Author? Mikhail Bulgakov, who was my main academic research interest. I regard his ‘The Master and Margarita’ as the greatest book of the twentieth century.
Published Books: Sardinian Silver, Mikhail Bulgakov: Life and Interpretations, and A Cupboard Full Of Shoes.
Featured Selection: A Cupboardful Of Shoes: And Other Stories – by Colin A. Wright
After a life dedicated to the study of languages, A. Colin Wright has distilled his life’s observations into this engaging collection of short stories, most of which have been previously published in literary journals. Now retired, his life’s adventures, which include serving in the British Air Force, attending Cambridge University, and being a professor of Russian, have inspired this collection. “I’m a librarian and I kissed a film star once. I touched her nipples too. At least, I think I did.” So begins “Queen’s Grill.” Horatio Humphries, one of the unreliable narrators, strikes up a brief friendship with a movie star on a rough Atlantic crossing, but his “twin” brother doesn’t believe him. In “A Pregnant Woman with Parcels at Brock and Bagot,” an unnamed woman may or may not have an affair with a man she met at a party-depending on whether she can get by a woman in front of her. “Distantly from Gardens,” a variant on the theme of the “double” found often in Russian literature, presents a man with a split personality, inhabited by two narrators who are his past as well as his present. While other stories are told in either the first or third person, the subject here demands the use of the second. The stories in A Cupboardful of Shoes explore subjects as wide-ranging as largely disappointed love, violence, and war, sometimes with an underlying religious theme, serving to illustrate Wright’s eclectic style and literary interests.
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