I wrote a story about apples once. It was the theme of the literary competition for the Donnybrook Apple Festival. I was sixteen. I came second, and I got $50.

The story I wrote kept growing. Or maybe it started out bigger and I cut it down for the competition, which only allowed 750 words. Out of all the stories I wrote, it was one of my favourites. It was called ‘The Souring’. It was set in a time in the future when Earth is at war with another planet. The aliens have sent a sickness to Earth; the humans discovered a vaccine derived from apples. The problem with the vaccine is that it makes apples taste sour. Humans stop eating apples. A small price to pay, except for one devout and crazy Swedenborgian who refuses to take the vaccine so he can keep eating apples.

It was more complicated than that. It was very complicated, but mainly it was a love story. I was going to turn it into a novel. I wasn’t able to.

I wrote that story at a time when ideas for stories used to pour out of me and success came regularly. Everyone applauds a sixteen year old showing some promise, so potent and full of passion. So sure he can get to the heart of the matter.