In 2014, Ted Bishop did the surprising: he wrote a book about ink, and it became a success. The book fits into a genre sometimes called commodity biographies which investigate how human needs produced a product to solve problems, and the problems and opportunities that product eventually created for its creators and humanity.
That story is the story of writing itself, of course, so it’s no wonder that Bishop, an English professor at the University of Alberta, would take it on. If there’s a stereotype of what an English professor is, Bishop isn’t it. With his facial features, beard, and slight stature, he looks very much like young George Lucas, although his hair is grey.
Bishop’s previous book, Riding with Rilke, was a Best Book choice of the Globe & Mail, CBC, and Playboy about the amazing people he met during his own motorcycle odysseys across North America that ended with a 160 km/h wipe-out and a back broken in two places. He lived, walked again, and wrote The Social Life of Ink.
I sat down with Ted Bishop on February 02, 2015 at the University of Alberta’s Humanities Centre to ask him about the craft of long-form nonfiction. Along the way, we discussed:
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