Featured Interview With Gabriel Boutros
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born in the ancient town of Cairo, Egypt, but I’ve lived most of my life in Montreal. Grew up and went to school here, worked as a defence attorney for 24 years here, got married and raised my two sons here. And I live and breathe with my favourite hockey team, The Montreal Canadiens!
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I’ve been in love with books ever since I can remember, spending many a long, cold winter night bundled up with a good book. And it was also since a young age that I realized that I loved to write too. Silly little stories to entertain myself, before deciding to get a little more serious and getting a couple of short stories published, and now I’ve moved onto my second full-length novel.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I know it’s corny, but I love so many writers that it’s hard to say I have a favourite. I grew up on Stephen King and Charles Dickens. I read everything ever written by Frank Herbert and Joseph Conrad. Raymond Chandler or Margaret Atwood. Philip K. Dick, or Ian Rankin.
As you can see, I have no preferred genres, or writers. Maybe it depended on how old I was at the time, or what was going on in my life, but I’ve fallen in love with books by all these writers and many others.
I think what I love about their writing is their ability to tell captivating stories; each in their own style and different genres, but always gripping, always making me feel a little sad when the stories end.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest novel is called Face/Mask. It’s a drama set set in Montreal in the year 2039. Like most major cities, the air is poisonous due to unregulated industrial expansion around the globe. The war on terror has been going on for nearly forty years, with no end in sight. A few years earlier a small nuclear bomb was detonated on Canadian soil by a fringe terrorist group. This led to the American government sending in military advisers to help combat the spread of terrorism. Soon a militaristic administration was established, which curtailed civil rights and clamped down on dissent.
The main character is Allen Janus: everyone thinks he is a good husband and father, and a respected government official. But, despite having a good job and a wife and children who love him, he is dissatisfied. He finds little meaning or happiness in what he views as a monotonous life. He will do anything and lie to anyone to find some excitement to get him through his empty days. The physical decay of the world around him is reflected in his own decaying morality, and he leads a double life, gambling heavily and spending much of his time with a prostitute.
At home, he is faced with a relative who is well-loved and respected by everyone who knows him, creating feelings of resentment in Janus. In a moment of petty vindictiveness Janus informs on this man to the authoritarian government, getting him arrested and unintentionally turning the attention of the military police on to his whole family. He has to overcome his own weak character, as well as the secret life that he must keep hidden, in order to save everyone from the web of deceit that he created.
It took me about a year or so to write Face/Mask, although this was in two blocks of about six months. In between those two blocks of time I was simply stuck for many months, because I just didn’t know where I wanted the story to go. Finally got it done and I’m quite proud and happy with the final result.
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