Canadian screenwriter, novelist and musician Paul Quarrington passed away from lung cancer peacefully on Thursday at his home. Paul was a friend and colleague – I had the pleasure of working with him on several BookShorts projects, as well as working for him building his web sites and blogs. He was a talented and funny guy, and extremely productive even to the last day, working on 2 CDs, a book and documentary on music, as well as numerous TV and film projects. We’ll miss you Paul.
Here is a nice tribute to Paul Quarrington written in today’s Toronto Star.
I’m also including 5 Questions that Paul answered for me for Karen Walton’s ink canada group for screenwriters on Facebook. Paul answered these just before he was diagnosed (May 2009. ) The answers are a nice cap-off to the article above, explaining the whys and hows of writing and storytelling.
5Qs Paul Quarrington – über writer.
The facts in brief.
Paul Quarrington wrote everything, and he wrote everything well. He’s written screenplays that have won Genies, novels that have won awards such as the Giller, Governor General’s Award, Canada Reads and the Stephen Leacock Medal for comedy and a song that was a #1 hit single.
As a story editor for feature films and television he was much in demand, his latest gig winning the CFPTA Indie Award for Best Comedy Series.
Paul is also a filmmaker and graduate of the Canadian Film Centre’s director program. His short film Pavane which is based on his novel The Ravine, has been a popular winner at numerous festivals. He also adapted the novel into a both a screenplay for a feature film and TV series.
He recently completed Cigar Box Banjo, a reflection on music and mortality that comes out this spring, and was busy participating in the documentary based on the book. A lifelong musician, Paul recently completed 2 CDs: a solo album as well as a CD with his band the Porkbelly Futures.
We’ll miss you Paul.
1. how do you do it all? TV, screenplays, novels, comedy, fiction, faction, songs.
well, if the question is how do i do such disparate things, my response is to claim that they are not all that different at all. it’s all story-telling, say i, and in terms of creativity, it all seems to me like scratching the same itch. if the question is how do i find time to do it all, the answer is that i don’t. i try to use my time wisely — but fail continually — and there is usually something that is being ignored, left outside, scratching at the door and mewling horribly.
2. why do you do it all?
i think i do it to ward off boredom. also, novel-writing is always a solitary activity, and much song-writing is as well. television and film tend to be collaborative, they get me out of the house so that i can whoop it up a little.
3. In an interview about “The Ravine” – you say “It’s about this writer who squanders his talents in television.” Is that what you really think? Let’s piss some inkies off.
television is the greatest entertainment and story-telling medium that ever has been. it’s power and scope is extraordinary. i often imagine charles dickens learning about it. “okay, so i get an hour each week, right, and it gets watched by several million people… i’m there!” having said that, it is often under-utilized. its narrative powers remain untested except by the very rare genius like dennis potter. even the best television shows — “the sopranos,” “six feet under,” whatever you like — are still just television shows, they adhere to the same basic template as everything else. it’s like we as artists have this sports car, but we’ve only taken it out on the 400 series highways and we haven’t exceeded the speed limit.
4. What else do you think? (Write something here that makes you sound great.)
i think many other things, and i have very few answers that make me sound great. but here is something else: i also have, as a hobby, magic. i refer to myself as an “extremely amateur magician.” but it, too, is story-telling. indeed, any good card trick has to adhere to all the accepted narrative structure — objective, obstacles, resolution. I have a good trick that illustrates this.
5. Tips for the newbie writers.
there’s only good tip for newbie writers: be better than everybody else. if you can’t do that, be better than almost everybody else and try not to say bad things about those that are better than you.
More tributes and articles about Paul Quarrington are on his web site. Please stop by and feel free to leave a few words.
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