Do you enjoy a thrill that makes you think about the world around you? In the new novel Invisible Dead, this happens on a whole new level. Invisible Dead is a novel about systemic violence, the kind we often don’t notice or don’t think about. Vancouver PI Dave Wakeland sets out to find a missing sex trade worker, and must eventually confront his own complicity in being part of a city where troubled young women go missing all too often.
In some ways, Wakeland is a classic detective, in the vein of Lew Archer. This makes him capable in some ways, and woefully unequipped in others. I wrote it as the first novel in a series; the second Wakeland novel, Cut You Down, will be published February 2018 from Quercus USA and Random House Canada.
We spoke with Sam Wiebe about his latest and greatest novel and what he has in store for us!
BookTrib: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Sam Wiebe: I read Jaws by Peter Benchley at an early age, and brought it to school for a read-aloud assignment. The teacher asked me to leave out the swear words, which, if you’ve read the book, is about one-third of the total verbiage.
BT: What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? (If any)
SW: I’ve been to the Oxford Bar in Edinburgh, John Rebus’s watering hole. And I’ve been to Stratford-upon-Avon.
BT: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
SW: I read John McFetridge’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere and thought it was the first crime novel by a Canadian that was as good or better than anything published in the US or UK. He writes social-realist, working-class fiction about cops and criminals. And Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson came out this year and blew away my expectations. My local bookseller described it as “First Nations Twin Peaks” and that’s as good a description as any.
BT: Did you base your character, Dave Wakeland, on anyone you know/detectives from favorite crime novels?
SW: Not consciously. Wakeland started as a voice, which is close to mine in some respects, wildly different in others. But I love the classic detective novels, especially Ross MacDonald and John D. MacDonald. I’m going through the Sjowal/Wahloo Martin Beck novels right now and really enjoying them, too.
BT: Did you have to do any in-depth research on your hometown of Vancouver during the writing process? What did you find out?
SW: I did a lot of research on missing women and the sex trade, talked to people involved, read everything I could find. At the same time I was out of school and falling back in love with the city, spending a lot of time walking around, which I still do. Trying to reconcile those two Vancouvers is very difficult, and in some ways is the theme of the novel. How do you square what we choose to ignore with what we take for granted?
Sam Wiebe’s books are available on Amazon.