Today we travel to Vancouver, Canada to chat with Bill Arnott about how traveling, socializing with other artists, coffee, a sense of humor, acoustic Indie Folk, a belief that we’re all the same, a weatherproof journal, throwing away ten years of research and writing, New Zealand, a giraffe in a pub, and a miracle in a book store come together as part of Bill’s current and past life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey Camilla, thanks so much for the invite. I love MTA and it’s a privilege to be featured!
I’m Bill Arnott, author, poet, songwriter, and my home is Canada’s west coast, in Vancouver. I spend most of my time writing, travelling, or socializing with other artists. Bill Arnott’s Showcase is one of the ways I feature and promote creative peers.
In which genre do you write?
My first five books were nonfiction, published over fifteen years, but I recently leapt into poetry and fiction and love the breadth of genres.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
A decent view and access to coffee, a pint, and buddies with a sense of humour!
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just reread two favourites by mentor/friends Tim Winton (Land’s Edge) and Anna Badkhen (Waiting for the Taliban).
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I perform a lot – acoustic Indie Folk and spoken word, so I’m often rehearsing. If it’s my poetry, I rarely read, but instead LEARN it (different, I feel, than memorization). It takes a lot of time but shows respect for an audience.
If you could have a fantasy coffee date with an author or famous person, who would it be?
I have a circuitous answer but stay with me, I think it’s worth it. I adamantly believe we’re all the same. I’m not one for pedestals. Yes, I have role models and folks that may view me that way but we’re still all the same. So when I encounter a famous (living) writer I’d like to visit with, I reach out to them. If they’re surrounded by gatekeeping agent/publicists, well, I’ve gained some insight into that individual and probably won’t be as keen to connect. But most often, a sincere intro to a genuine person results in a lovely exchange. I’ve in fact had great visits and connections with most of my heroes – good people who’re in the very same boat as all of us.
This is beautiful, Bill. I believe we are all the same, too. I just wish we could all see that and treat one another as equals.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
I was surprised to realize I no longer care what people think of me. Not much, anyway.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve experienced or remember while writing a memoir?
Every performance, even a performance you KNOW will be brutal, results in a memoir story, which is why I won’t shy away from a potentially bad gig. A favourite was the event with ZERO attendees. Now THAT’S good material!
This is such an excellent point. Thanks for sharing it with us!
Do you journal or keep a diary? Has this helped with your published writings?
When I’m working on travel memoirs, a weatherproof journal’s essential – my writerly bread and butter. A story I like to share as a life lesson is the time I finished a 110,000 word manuscript – ten years of travel, research and writing. I had it in a Word doc. But we were moving (packing boxes, paring down). This, combined with the fact I’m lazy, I threw out all my journals and notes. Every bit of it. I had my Word doc after all, so I was solid. (Of course you know where this is going.) Did I back it up? Certainly not. I’m too busy and important to waste time on such trivialities. Suffice to say my computer crashed, my manuscript vanished, and I had to start again from scratch with a handful of photos. The lesson? I’m a moron.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I just watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople, New Zealand being a place that I love. I trust Taika Waititi as a filmmaker and LOVE artists who create poignant stuff and still pepper it with zany humour.
A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?
Here’s the thing about a giraffe in a hat. He’s spiffed up, right? So he and a buddy go to the pub. They get there and the giraffe has a lie down. Bartender says, Oi, what’s that lyin’ there?! The buddy says, Ain’t a lion, it’s a giraffe! (Needless to say this a joke for telling, not writing, but YOU brought up the giraffe.)
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
I do. I was shopping for, dare I say, a spiritual book, at a colossal retailer. And chose to release into the moment, simply let go (I actually closed my eyes) and a book fell from a high shelf – literally dropped, and I caught it midair – James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. And I thought, if I ever have the confidence or indifference to share this story, it was one of those moments Deepak Chopra talks about. It shifted my perspective of everything.
Lovely story, Bill. I can see and feel how this would cause a shift in perspective. Wow!
Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.
I actually have a couple, radically different stuff I’m equally proud of. Firstly, my travel memoir Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, a Whistler Independent Book Awards Finalist, now with Rocky Mountain Books. And secondly, Allan’s Wishes, an all-ages graphic novella I created with brilliant Vancouver artist Brett Jasch.
It was great having you be a part of MTA, Bill. I really enjoyed getting to know you better. Wishing you all the best and if you’re ever near Reno, Nevada, look me up and let’s have coffee! – Camilla
Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. Bestseller Bill Arnott takes readers on a personal odyssey, trekking Europe to Asia, the UK to Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and the New World in the wake of history’s greatest explorers. With a small pack and weatherproof journal, Bill writes with a journalist’s eye, a poet’s prose, and a comedian’s take on everything else. Prepare yourself for an armchair adventure like no other!
This is definitely one of the best reads of the year. – Silver Bow Publishing.
An extremely well-documented travelogue with beautiful imagery. – Ottawa Review of Books.
Where to find Bill’s books:
Gone Viking: A Travel Saga here: https://rmbooks.com/book/gone-viking/
And fun mini tours of my Viking trek here:
Connect with Bill:
Bill’s Website: https://billarnottaps.wordpress.com/
Bill’s Showcase: https://mailchi.mp/dd5400632582/bills-artist-showcase
Facebook: Bill Arnott
Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:
- Comment on the interview
- Share the interview using the social media buttons
- Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
- If interested, buy the book and leave a review
To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host