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This article was published 10/3/2015 (2424 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Sean Trinder knows a thing or two about pumping gas for a living. And he’ll be the first to tell you, it’s not exactly pretty.
"I worked in gas stations for something like four years," the 33-year-old author of The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas Hates You told The Herald over coffee. "I’ve accumulated a lot of anecdotes in that time, and I wanted to get them down on paper."
Like the novel’s narrator Brendan, Trinder got his first job at a gas bar in St. Vital when he was 17 years old.
"I also worked at a couple gas stations in Oakbank," Trinder recalled wistfully as the longtime Transcona resident prepared for the upcoming launch of the novel.
Also like his protagonist, Trinder long harboured a desire to be a writer. But that’s where Trinder and his fictitious subject’s parallel lives change course.
In The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas, Brendan enrols in a continuing education creative writing course. In real life, Trinder went through the Creative Communications program at Red River College, after graduating from Collège Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau in 1999.
While a student at Red River, Trinder found a creative writing mentor in instructor Armin Wiebe.
"It was cool to meet someone who’s actually done it," Trinder said. "Even after I graduated (in 2005), he’d meet with me for coffee to talk about writing."
Since then, he’s plugged away at a couple different career paths, while all the while working on his writing.
"When I have a day off or spare time, I try to sit down and do as much as I can," he said.
"I was one of the original readers who evaluated this manuscript," said Paul Matwychuk, general manager of NeWest Press, the Edmonton-based publishing house behind The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas Hates You. "I was hooked on this book pretty much within the first dozen or so pages. It was so refreshing for me to read a book like this, which felt so funny and authentic and free of pretension."
Inspired at an early age by the writings of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, Trinder now draws inspiration from the likes of Neil Gaiman and Chuck Palahniuk. Like the best of Palahniuk’s fiction, the characters in Trinder’s work struggle with dead-end jobs and failing relationships. From shoutouts to dive venues like Ozzy’s and prairie punk rockers Guy Smiley, to observations about the darkness at the edge of the Perimeter, The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas is filled with lots of gritty slices of local life.
"Most of the anecdotes and stories dealing with customers in the book actually happened to me," Trinder said with a chuckle.
However, while many of the experiences Trinder relates may have been pulled from the gutter of real life, it doesn’t mean some poetic licensed wasn’t used.
"I’m kind of hard on customers, in the book. But in real life, most of the customers were fine."
Sean Trinder launches The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas Hates You on Sun., March 29, at 2 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Grant Park Mall (1120 Grant Ave.).
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112