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Laurence Gough

About the Author

Laurence Gough, who lives with his wife and two children in Vancouver, has written twelve Willows and Parker mysteries: The Goldfish Bowl, winner of an Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel from the Crime Writers of Canada; Death on a No. 8 Hook; Hot Shots, winner of an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year; Serious Crimes; Accidental Deaths; Fall Down Easy; Killers; Heartbreaker; Memory Lane; Karaoke Rap; Shutterbug; and Funny Money. His international thriller, Sandstorm, won the Author Award (fiction) from the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters in 1991.

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Author Essay

I was born in Vancouver but spent most of my early life in various suburbs around the city. We lived in Burnaby until I was sixteen. I remember going with my friends down to the Fraser River flats, where we walked the log booms, and sharpened our shooting skills with a .22 rifle. My last few teenage years were idled away in North Vancouver. We lived high up on the mountain, and if I walked down to the end of the block at night I could see the lights of the city glittering from the unimaginably distant horizon all
the way to the vast blackness of the sea. The city was a lot smaller back then, but even so, it seemed too large and complex to ever fully understand.

When I’d finished with high school I worked for a while, put a little money aside, packed everything I owned into my recently aquired rust-bucket TR3, and drove across the bridge. I found a small apartment in Kitsilano, and settled in, and started making friends. A few years later I moved again, to the Simon Fraser University Campus. I was back in Burnaby, and not too happy about it. I lived on campus for a few semesters, but eventually returned to my vibrant Kits neighbourhood. SFU was more than an hour away – in both directions – but I didn’t mind the commute.

Later, I lived in the West End for a year or so. One rainy Christmas Eve half a dozen of us went outside barefoot, and melted candles onto all our toes, lit up, and stood in a tight circle singing Christmas Carols. This was at a busy intersection. Somebody must have called the cops. We were interrogated, found against all odds to be drug and alcohol-free, and congratulated on our Christmas Spirit.

I lived on the East Side, just off Main Street, for a short time. The neighbourhood has been somewhat gentrified, but at the time I was full of all kinds of interesting, somewhat marginal, characters. A friend who was a law student dropped by one summer evening, and we went for a stroll and ended up being arrested for vagrancy. My law -student pal’s family was riddled with lawyers, so the charges against us were quickly dropped. But in the meantime we’d been fingerprinted, and tossed in a cell. It was an illuminating experience, and I’m sure it helped lead me down the mean streets that led to my career as a mystery novelist.

A writer has to feel comfortable with the physical as well as the psychological geography of his work. The looming mountains to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west define the limits of the city, and serve as a constant reminder that we’re at the end of the road. Port cities always get a little more than their fair share of crime. For someone in my profession, that’s a very good thing.

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