Michael Christie grew up in a home where literature was greatly valued, but was put on a pedestal, as something normal people couldn’t do. A prolific reader, Michael did his early writing in secret, and meanwhile had a colourful career. After school, he travelled to California and the UK as a professional skateboarder, and he worked in a homeless centre in Vancouver for many years.
He visited Cork in 2011, when his collection of short stories, The Beggar’s Garden, was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award.
Who is Michael Christie
Date of birth: 7th October 1976, in Thunder Bay, Northern Ontario.
Education: High School in Thunder Bay. Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. University of Vancouver, MFA Creative Writing.
Home: Galiano – a small island off the coast of Vancouver,
Family: Wife Cedar, and sons August, 5, and Lake, 2.
The Day Job: Full time writer with some teaching and freelance journalism.
Interests: Playing the guitar. “I used to be in a band.” Skateboarding, and carpentry. “I constructed our house from Douglas Firs we’d cleared from the land.”
Favourite Writers: Alice Munroe; Dickens; Wells Tower; Chekov.
Second Novel: “I’m at the beginning stages. It’s set in the depression in Canada.”
Top Writing Tip: “ Read, read, read. There is nothing more dispiriting than someone who wants to write saying they don’t like reading.”
Web: www.MichaelChristie.net Twitter:@mrmikechristie
The Debut: If I fall, if I die. William Heineman: €15.99 Kindle: €8.37
Will has never been outside. He doesn’t know anyone, except for his mother, Diane, and he’s learned to fear the world. Diane is a severe acrophobic, who daren’t even open the front door. One day, donning a protective helmet, Will ventures outside, ready to face danger. Eventually he meets Jonah, a boy who introduces him to skateboarding. Will’s fears fade, but when a local boy goes missing, life starts to get complicated.
“Mum was acrophobic, though not as severely as Diane, and growing up, it was difficult to understand her illness. To me, the book is as much about being a parent, as its about being a child. I wanted to capture both in a fresh and funny way.”
The Verdict: A quite dazzling debut written with great feeling and empathy. It’s beautifully constructed too.
Published in The Irish Examiner, 28th March, 2015
© Sue Leonard 2015