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Ian Weir doles out writing advice at the Afterword Reading Society wrap-up

Last night, book lovers gathered at Ben McNally Books in Toronto for the National Post‘s inaugural Afterword Reading Society wrap-up. Brad Frenette, Afterword co-editor, hosted a Q&A with Ian Weir, whose novel Daniel O’Thunder (Douglas & McIntyre) has been discussed on the Post book blog for the past two months or so (and was one of Q&Q’s “Overlooked Books” of 2009). The novel has also been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Weir, a successful playwright and screenwriter, spoke frequently of how his background influenced the writing process of his first novel, and offered up some writing advice.

I find it really useful to think of myself as an actor playing the role of the character, he said. If I were an actor, what would I be doing with this moment? What would I be doing with this character? So often as a writer you stay outside the character and discover that you’ve written characters who make a certain intellectual sense to you, but don’t actually have life.

Weir also said that he appreciated the creative freedom that comes with writing a novel “ the usual budget constraints associated with writing for the screen or stage did not apply.

That’s the wonderful thing about being a writer, he said. It costs just the same to set a story with a bazillion characters in the streets of London in Victorian England as it does to write a novel with one character in the streets of London in 2011.