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Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
I like to tell people that I spent some time in Yukon—39 years, 8 months and 15 days, but who’s counting? Actually, all joking aside, we raised our two kids there and it was time well spent I assure you. I am now retired to Vancouver Island with my wife, Anna, where I am enjoying meeting people and experiencing new adventures.
A career bureaucrat—completely by accident not by design—I usually had some sort of sideline business going. These included such diverse services as photography (something I still do) and running a massage practice. I’ve built houses, rebuilt engines, and learnt to adapt from paper to digital. I’m a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Oh yah, over the years I was also prompted to do some writing now and again.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing but didn’t allow myself to delve into it much for many years. The thing that held me back was some misguided belief that everything I did had to generate income or it shouldn’t be done. I enjoy expressing myself with the written word, but overlooked many opportunities to do so.
More recently, I’ve written feature and news articles for local newspapers and publications in Yukon and Vancouver Island, including a column on photography that I wrote for a year. (The column articles are compiled into a book, The Digital Eye)
When I retired in the fall of 2012 I thought it’d be interesting to join the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to see if I could actually create something of interest. The voices in my head were restless and vociferous so I simply sat down and started putting words to screen.
What I learnt is that when I write fiction, I become immersed into the world and characters as they materialize in the narrative, dialogue and descriptions that appear as I create.
Where did the idea for 'From Thine Own Well: Canada After The Fracking' come from?
The inspiration for From Thine Own Well came from my own frustration and resentment over the Harper government in Canada signing an agreement with China that allows Chinese corporations to sue Canadian governments if those governments do anything that interfere with the corporation’s profits. Such lawsuits will be heard by secret tribunal rather than in open court.
Extensive research uncovered the issues that may occasion with that kind of agreement. I studied the dangers of fracking and irresponsible mining. At that time, in Yukon, the Peel Watershed Commission was consulting with stakeholders, environmental experts and First Nations to gather information so the government could make an informed decision on what to do with that pristine area. In the book I wrote that the Peel Watershed was opened to development and resource extraction and described the devastating results that could entail, never thinking for a moment that anyone would be irresponsible enough to actually allow it to happen.
I was wrong. In 2014 the Yukon government opened the area to mines and oil and gas companies in abject opposition to the recommendations of the Commission. But I digress.
So began my journey into a dystopian world that developed as I met and learnt about the characters in the story and lived their lives vicariously. It is the culmination of my fear, bias, imagining and hopefulness. I’m pleased to share it with you.
What influences have there been on your writing?
Stephen King and Justin Cronin fascinate me with their ability to imagine and create worlds, creatures and people that are terrifying.
Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid's Tale” struck me as one of the finest dystopian novels ever. I loved the movement through the society and characters she created and the descriptions that left nothing to the imagination. One can fathom the world she describes as coming to be. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and of course, Orwell’s 1984, are similar in their possibility of becoming real. I like dystopia that reads like reality.
The award for research and adherence to authenticity has to go to Ken Follett. From his World War II novels to the epic volumes of The Pillars of the Earth series and the Century Trilogy, one lives those epochs through his words.
More recently, indie writers like Martyn V. Halm (Amsterdam Assassin Series), Carmen Amato (Emilia Cruz Series) and Erec Stebbins (Daughter of Time Series) have monopolized my reading life and stimulated my senses. They are living proof that independent, self-published authors can create novels comparable to those published by traditional houses.
I have read indie writers exclusively for the past 18 months and have been wonderfully pleased overall. They are far too numerous to list here, but I have written reviews on many of them on my website.
What makes your stories stand out?
My readers are foremost in my mind. I like to think that what makes my stories distinctive is the emotional response elicited. When I write, I experience what the reader will feel.
I’ve been known to sit in front of my laptop enraged, slamming the keys down in an attempt to bang the words out as fast as they formed in my pounding head. I have also slumped, sobbing before the same laptop as the characters in my story go through a particularly gut-wrenching occurrence.
Either way, the intent is that my fiction generates emotion.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read prior to completing this interview was “Vessel” by Andrew J. Morgan. This is a science fiction piece that involves the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA) and the continuation of the International Space Station (ISS) together. Morgan does a remarkable job of creating two corresponding story lines, one on earth, the other 240 miles in space.
What is your favourite song lyric?
This is a tough one as there are so many wondrously talented lyricists in the world, both today and in years past. It seems to me that the lyrics I’m currently listening to are my favourite. That said, the song, ‘Til We Meet Again, by Johnny Reid has some words that I would happily share with all of you:
May the sun shine on your shoulders
May luck and love be your friends
For now, always, forever; ‘til we meet again
What are you working on at the moment?
At the present time I am working on honing my short story skills. I’m taking instruction from experts in the field and practicing the craft. I’ve created several and am about to start on a memoir piece, written as a short story.
Although I am feeling the urge to write another novel, I haven’t had the final push to begin … yet.
Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
My latest release is the aforementioned, From Thine Own Well: Canada After The Fracking. Although it is not the tanks, guns, vampire or apocalypse kind of dystopia we often see, it is a world and situation that is feasible and, sadly, possible. As I said earlier, some of the things I wrote about in 2012 are now taking place. Readers find it disconcerting because of its probability. It has been well received and I’m pleased that it generates dialogue on the subject.
The description of the book reads:
Disillusioned former Yukon mining exploration worker, Landon McGuire, is torn from his self-imposed exile into a Canada he no longer recognizes. Water is a precious commodity, and the environment is contaminated. Individual rights are non-existent and corporate rule is the law—a law enforced by the corporation’s own brutal militia.
Unregulated fracking and irresponsible mining have destroyed the watersheds. A small group of people band together to combat the ruling coalition, but find themselves embroiled in a dangerous game. Landon meets Nora and is drawn into the fray. What begins as a fact-finding mission turns deadly as they get closer to the truth.
Deceit, threats and violent encounters emphasize the reality that economy trumps environment even when lives are at stake.