• Why I wrote fiction about a Rob Ford-inspired mad mayor who settles grudges with knife fights

    "Not many outside the confines of the political wing at City Hall would guess it, but our new mayor is an expert with a knife. "

    -The opening of the story "Knife Fight," from Knife Fight and Other Struggles by David Nickle (ChiZine Publications)

    The first time I met Doug Ford was in the early spring of 2010: a Friday soon after his brother Rob Ford registered to run for Mayor of Toronto.

    I'd known Rob for years: he was a vocal, gaffe-prone city councillor from Toronto's northwest corner who was known for using his wealthy family's money to pay for office expenses that would otherwise come from his taxpayer-funded office budget. None of his colleagues on council had much time for him, but he was a darling of local talk radio and a media magnet: a big, anger-prone guy who gave off the vibe of the late Chris Farley, and could be relied on for a provocative sound-byte from the extreme conservative end of the spectrum.

    I write a column for Metroland, the Torstar-owned chain of community newspapers in and around Toronto — and I hadn't been terribly supportive of Rob as a councillor. That was where Doug came in — or rather, it was the point on which he called in.

    "Dave Nickle. You're the guy that hates my brother."

    Those were the first words he said after introducing himself. I was in my office in the city hall press gallery, putting some stories to bed for the weekend papers, and was a little taken aback. Doug, who was managing his brother's newborn campaign, wanted to talk.