What do you do in your day job/life? I teach literature and history at the Ecole d’Humanité, an international boarding school in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The school has a very colourful past — it was founded in 1933 by a German philosopher, Paul Geheeb, who escaped Nazi persecution to enter neutral territory and establish a student body comprised of refugees from totalitarianism — which makes my work here today look pretty mundane by comparison.
What’s the earliest thing you remember writing?
A series of comic short stories about two ridiculous dinosaurs involved in a quasi-abusive relationship much like Ren and Stimpy. In story after story, the Caramelmonstersaurus, a gleefully malevolent criminal genius, would find new and increasingly elaborate ways of persecuting the fat, dim-witted Fallumpicus, a lumbering quadruped with a heart of gold.
When do you like to write?
When I’m alone in a park somewhere, in the shade of a large tree on a sunny but breezy day.
If you could brunch with anyone, who would it be?
Since part of my job involves brunching with a dozen students at least once a week, my ideal brunch dates would be my wife and daughter and absolutely no one else.
Most important thing the Internet has taught you:
First, how to think fast. Then, how to slow down. I’m a born contrarian. I took to the Internet back in the days of the 14.4kbps dial-up modem and I devoted six or seven years to a career in breakneck web development, producing as much online content as I possibly could in a ludicrously short timeframe. When social media came into being, however, I lost almost all my interest in the Internet and decided that I wanted to spend my days reading and writing books. These days, I Facebook sporadically and tweet reluctantly, and I much prefer to spend time online immersed in longform literary publications like Full Stop, 3AM Magazine, and Numéro Cinq.
A quotation you have used more than once:
Ralph Waldo Emerson: 'Life only avails, not the having lived.' And I hope someone engraves it on my headstone when the time comes.
Lots. A novella, with a story drawn a little bit from my life, about a violent crime and the tensions between the members of a close community of people when the perpetrator resurfaces after a ten-year absence. Or a collection of interrelated short stories of which that novella would form the centrepiece. I also have a third novella in the works, as well as a collection of literary essays, and an academic monograph on the novels of James Fenimore Cooper and Cormac McCarthy will be published next year.