The River's Sources


Île aux perroquets, Mingan Islands, Quebec


One of the things I have discovered through interaction with other writers is that there are many reasons and processes for writing, probably as many as there are writers. Some people seem to generate ideas for stories almost on a whim, and then work the idea out into a novel. Others have persistent themes or writing styles across different writing projects, and are more conscious about harnessing these features. I must admit I find the idea of producing a novel, which is such a colossal amount of work, on almost a whim, strange. I am not disparaging those who can do this. It is just light years from my own way of working.


In my case, my novels typically go through a rather long gestation period. I like to say that the Chronicles was in gestation half my life. It is true their shape tumbled into being in only a few months, but that shape was very much determined by decades of thinking deeply about the world, and I believe that the novels as they are currently being finalized reflect that preoccupation. My White Shadows trilogy sat in preparation for about five years before I wrote a word down. In fact, Goodness in Small Doses, which I wrote in 2018, was based on a field trip I undertook in the Angoulême region of France in 2014. That trip was a fact-finding mission, itself based on well over a year of research I'd already done. River of Sighs drew on my own travels in Quebec across several years, as well as experiences that date back much further (see image above).


All my novels come from deep places within me. I have difficulty getting my head around the idea of writing things that are not so rooted. Even my short stories, and poems, of course, are grounded in my deeper self in non trivial ways.

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