In October 2019, after almost a decade of writing and rewriting, submitting and resubmitting, David Kloepfer’s first novel, Cheap Thrills, will hit bookstores. We caught up with the 2013 School for Writers grad over email to hear more about his long road to publication and how being a reader led him to his publisher.
Tell us about your book/project? How did it come about?
I had heard of the Humber School for Writers by way of one of my favourite authors, Paul Quarrington, who taught in the writing program for many years. I’d wanted for a long time to have him as a teacher, but never felt I had enough material to make the most of a writing program. I suppose people write first drafts in these things, but that never made much sense to me. To my and anyone with any taste’s great dismay, Paul Quarrington died in 2010. A much greater loss than my not having had him as a teacher is our not having any more of his novels to read.
I started writing Cheap Thrills around 2010, I think. Maybe earlier. I partially completed two drafts, throwing each in the garbage after the other, and then started again. By 2013, I had a nearly complete third draft and felt I was finally on to something, but was sure I could still use a little help. I applied for the Correspondence Program.
After completing the program, my mentor recommended me to the Humber School for Writers Literary Agency, which promptly closed up shop forever. Lol. I submitted to some 40 publishers or agents in a very undisciplined fashion over the next five years, all the while working on another two novels and a pile of short stories. (Still working on all these things.)
I work in a library, so my method for finding publishers to submit to eventually became unpacking a book I thought looked interesting, reading it, and submitting to the publisher if they seemed suitable. That’s how I found Now or Never Publishing, the Vancouver outfit that took my book in 2018.
How did you find the experience of working with your writing mentor? What insight into your writing did you gain through the mentorship process?
The program and my mentor, Elizabeth Duncan, taught me that I am not the editor I think I am, and that the value of a good editor cannot be overstated.
At the time I applied, I was not particularly familiar with the work of any of the teachers at Humber. I decided to go forward anyway because I really wanted to complete the book and did not have the confidence in my writing to think I could get a book to a finished, marketable stage on my own.
While I don’t really think of Cheap Thrills as a crime or mystery novel, it needed to function like one. I read one of Elizabeth’s books and thought that she clearly knows what she’s doing and could help me get the genre bones of this novel right, as well as of course help with smoothing out my writing in general. I was right. The novel is better for the mentorship.
Photo Credit: Erin Mawdsley