Author Interview with Glenn Dixon

Author Interview with Glenn Dixon

Posted on March 28 by admin
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Today’s interview is with Glenn Dixon, author of the new release Tripping the World Fantastic, and Pilgrim in the Palace of Words. Glenn has published travel articles in major publications such as National Geographic, the New York Post, The Walrus, the Globe and Mail, and Psychology Today. An expert on language with an M.A. in socio-linguistics, he is currently a language consultant with the Calgary Board of Education. He lives in Calgary.

Caitlyn: Tell us about your new book.

Glenn: Tripping the World Fantastic is about music. I travelled all over the world – taking sitar lessons in Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, listening to African drumming in Ghana and dancing to the wild electric rhythms of Cuba.  Of course I couldn’t possibly do justice to all the music on Earth.  That’d be a fool’s errand.  What I was trying to get at is why music is so important to us.  I looked at a lot of brain research too and there’s fantastic stuff coming out just in the last couple of years. It all came together and anyone, I think, who’s a musician, anyone who really loves music will find some real surprises in this book.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the title?

Glenn: The title came to me on a cross-country ski trip deep into the Canadian Rockies.  It just came out of nowhere.  I already had a working title – The Song Atlas - but this had more poetry.  The reference, of course, is from that old song A Whiter Shade of Pale – “I tripped the light fantastic.”  When I got home I looked it up and it turns out it originally comes from Milton.  Even Shakespeare in The Tempest used something pretty close.  I liked that.  I will say though, that the subtitle is key too – a journey through the music of our planet.  That’s what’ll catch in the search engines.  One’s for beauty and lyricism, one’s for the cold hard knocks of our present reality.

Caitlyn: What’s different about this book?

Glenn: I’ve had quite a lot of experience in documentary film making and so, everywhere I went – thirty countries or so – I dragged along a video camera.  All of the music I heard, I recorded in some form or another.  The text of this book has forty-five links to short videos so you can actually hear everything from whales singing in the Pacific to a rendition of Redemption Song at Bob Marley’s grave in Jamaica.  There are wild Irish jigs from the pubs of Galway and even the sound of the oldest instrument ever found – a Paleolithic bone flute from 42,000 B.C.  The paper edition will feature all these on an accompanying website (, the e-book will have the links directly embedded.  It’s a new world for readers out there.  And I’m proud to be working with Dundurn to make it all happen.

Caitlyn: What was the creative process like for you?

Glenn: HI have dozens of notebooks from my travels – little anecdotes, facts and figures, funny things people said.  You should see what I left on the cutting room floor.  I write and I write a lot.  For about a year in the writing of this book, I was keeping myself to 500 words a day.  That’s not easy.  Ask any writer.  At about five or six chapters in (and I had this experience with my first book too) I began to see the structure of it all.  I had to go back and toss out a lot of those first few chapters and start again but that’s the process for me.  I have to write a lot – say thirty thousand words – and be thinking all the time – and then things start to fall into place, I start to see how the whole great muddle can be a whole.

Caitlyn: Who did you read as a young adult?

Glenn: I read everything I could get my hands on as a young adult – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Vonnegut, Tolkien of course and I think I even tried James Joyce though I couldn’t make much of anything out of that.  I don’t think at that point I knew I wanted to be a writer.  But I loved the written word, that’s for sure.  I remember being flabbergasted when I got a mediocre mark in high school English.  At the time I was reading Dostoevsky on my own. I had little use for that teacher and her thumping out of the iambic pentameter.  She didn’t get it.  She didn’t get me.  It’s funny then that I went on to become a high school English teacher myself.  My main goal was always to instill a love of reading in my students and I did that until last year when I finally left teaching to become a full time author.