David Hull is exasperated. He runs a hand through his messy hair, last combed during the fourth of seventeen final drafts of his current novel. “She was a librarian. He was a reporter.” He spits out his words. “Of course I turned out to be a [expletive deleted] writer.”
He reels off the efforts he’s made to evade the fate his parentage decreed. He was a gunner in the artillery reserve. Played in post-punk rock bands. Worked in factories and warehouses. Got a philosophy degree. Cooked. Became a parent. Telemarketed. Web developed. Which was the most effective procrastination tool? “Parenting,” he states flatly, then laughs. “Oh man. That was a good one. 18 years with one single watertight excuse for avoiding anything. And don’t give me that J.K. Rowlings garbage,” he warns, suddenly on the verge of extreme violence. “You know why she could write 7 mega bestsellers while nursing a baby in pub with Rebus or whatever the hell it was? Because she’s one of those alien lizard people David Ickes warned us about.” Seeming to realize that he has risen, Hull settles back into his seat and takes a calming breath. “But parenting was the very best,” he repeats, more wistfully now. “Sadly, it ends, the day-to-day aspect, the aspect that lets you set aside your own ambitions for the sake of playing baseball with your child. He’s at University now.”
Does Hull ever fear that his own son will fall prey to a genetic fate similar to the one he bemoans? “No,” says Hull with a hearty laugh, “not possible. My parents were a librarian and a reporter. His by contrast are a… a novelist… supposedly... ” The smile fades somewhat. “And a director of communications for an NGO umbrella group concerned with freedom of expression and threats to journalism around the world.” He is sombre now, very very sombre indeed. Suddenly he covers his face. “What have we done to him?” He looks up again, with heartbreaking hope. “There’s not really any scientific evidence of an inheritable pre-disposition to a career in writing, is there?”
Reminded that his aunt, Mary Ramona Murray of Calgary, once set down a manuscript and said, “You come by it honestly,” Hull is dismissive. “The genetic lottery is hardly a beacon of honesty. Would you say that to Donald Trump Jr. - ‘you come by it honestly?’ Jesus. Where did you go to journalism school again? Hey, maybe you want this one way ticket to Ankara!” Hull’s anger is not spent; indeed, he’s just getting started. “And what is this ‘it’ that I came by so honestly? Maybe she meant the onionskin paper I was using back then after my dad’s newsroom got rid of a case. Or, I don’t know, freckles.”
Wouldn’t his aunt have said ‘you come by them honestly’ if she’d meant freckles?
Hull declares the interview over.