It was the fear of missing deadlines that helped journalists Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman write their very first book, A Matter of Confidence.
“Fear is a powerful motivator,” Shaw told the News Bulletin.
Released last month, A Matter of Confidence provides a behind-the-scenes look at into the rise and fall of former premier Christy Clark, the 2017 provincial election and how John Horgan, the current premier, came to power. It has since become a best-selling book.
On Thursday, Shaw and Zussman will be hosting a free book signing event at the Nanaimo Museum from 7-9 p.m. Shaw, who grew up in Cedar and interned at the News Bulletin, said he’s looking forward to returning to the Harbour City.
“I was always reading all the local news and reading all the books. My origins as a writer come from Nanaimo, so it is great to come back and be able to celebrate a book that I never thought I was going to be able to write.”
Hey look what arrived today! The first print copies of @matofconfidence with @richardzussman — available in fine BC bookstores this weekend. Excited for people to read it. Check https://t.co/rpikk7l7Qi for details on book events and come meet us and say hello. pic.twitter.com/L7qoP1dxk5
— Rob Shaw (@robshaw_vansun) March 16, 2018
Over the course of eight weeks, Shaw and Zussman conducted 70 interviews with countless current and former politicians and wrote 130,000 words, resulting in the 352-page book. Shaw, who has covered provincial politics since 2009 and is currently a legislative columnist for the Vancouver Sun, said one of the biggest challenges was not only tight deadlines imposed by the publishing company, but figuring out what material to include in A Matter of Confidence.
“We really didn’t want the book to be boring and there is nothing that makes something more boring than listing off a bunch of stories nobody read,” he said. “We did a mix of explaining things, providing new details and then quoting from other background stories or else people might have felt like it was stale story, so finding the mix was the toughest part.”
A Matter of Confidence begins in the era of former premier Gordon Campbell and ends with the election of the current NDP government. It also contains more humanized stories about a number of politicians, which Shaw was important because there are preconceived notions of politicians, particularly in the case of Clark.
“We needed to humanize the politicians because politics is a bloodsport and people make snap judgments about these political figures and in this social media age they hurl a lot of abuse at them, but they are people and they have motivations and hopes and disappointments and we tried to paint a broad picture of them,” he said. “Christy Clark broke all these class ceilings and was this trail-blazing female figure, the first Canadian premier to ever get re-elected and she didn’t get a lot of credit for it because she was phenomenally unpopular amongst female voters. We look at the issue of why.”
One of Shaw’s favourite parts in the book deals with the NDP and their 2017 election campaign. He said the way the party decided on their promise to eliminate bridge tolls in Metro Vancouver showed that the NDP were nimble and able to quickly think on their feet, which they’d struggled to do in the past.
“It showed how the NDP invented their decisions to scrap bridge tolls in three hours on the campaign trail,” he said. “It was an illustration of how nimble and different a campaign trail it was for the NDP.”
Since being released by Heritage House Publishing, A Matter of Confidence has received plenty of positive reviews and become a Globe and Mail best-seller. Shaw said he’s honoured that so many people have enjoyed the book and is glad the book didn’t take years to write.
“We were worried in the start that B.C. politics wouldn’t be an appetizing subject to read a whole book about. That’s why we tried really, really hard to make it entertaining and make it read like a really good story,” he said. “I am glad that we didn’t labour over it for years. There is nothing like a deadline and a panic to sharpen your mind.”
For more information on A Matter of Confidence and the book signing, please visit https://www.matterofconfidence.com/