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Charles Taylor Prize nominees discuss the writing process

On Friday night, Bravo! hosted the four Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction nominees at the Masonic Temple (also known as MTV studios) in Toronto. Here’s what each of the authors had to say about their books:

Daniel Poliquin, René Lévesque: I had just been nominated for the Giller Prize two years ago, and I felt unemployed, because all the hoopla was over and now I had this new challenge to work on a new book from scratch, and it was simply exhilarating. I had to first write it in French, and then I thought I would translate myself, but I found that too boring. So I said, I’m going to write it in English, and that’s what I did. So I’ve become, in the process, a bilingual writer “ although the editors at Penguin will tell you I have a huge problem with prepositions.

Kenneth Whyte, The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst: Hearst has been completely overwritten, over-analyzed, and psychoanalyzed. A couple of the biographers actually hired psychoanalysts to help them with the character. I wanted to get to him fresh, and I wanted to get to him through his work. He spent his life working hard, and I thought that would be the most effective way to get at who he was. So I spent a lot of time with his newspapers, the stuff he actually produced on a day-to-day basis.

Ian Brown, The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for His Disabled Son: The book is really an attempt to come to terms with what [my son, Walker] has, our search to find out what it was, how to deal with it, how to keep him alive. But more importantly, what his life was worth. It’s such a difficult life, for him especially, but also for everybody around him, and we tried to figure out what the value of his life was, what his inner life was like, whether I could somehow find his voice.

John English, Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968“2000: We’re all biographers, and I think we’re all asking the same question: what was the inner life of this individual? In the case of Pierre Trudeau, he so deliberately seemed to try to conceal it. He had such an obsession with privacy, as anyone who reported on him at the time will know. And yet, what was curious for me was that he kept these papers that were so revealing, in terms of his own past, his feelings, his passions.

The full discussion will be aired on Bravo!’s Arts & Minds on Jan. 30 at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. The award itself, which comes with a $25,000 prize, will be given out on Feb. 8.