Here it is! Another sneak peek for you all. This is the cover for the second book in the Dust and Devils series, Sin and Salvation! A huge thanks to the Glenbow Archives (NC-6-12955b) for granting me permission to use this photo. This haunting image is the one that really captures the Depression for me, and it is one of the photos that really inspired me to create the character of Jake.
A writer's brain is a uniquely marvelous place. There is nowhere quite like it.
I've always imagined my brain to be like a huge building full of doors. Each door leads to a different place and a different adventure. I have a really hard time being bored because there is always a door to open. Long bus rides don't worry me. Sitting through boring meetings - no problem.
When I look on the outside like I'm staring out a window or gazing off into space, in my head, I have walked up to one of those doors and stepped through. I might be following a Viking warrior on his first battle. Or I might have stepped onto a boxcar in the 1930s, feeling the wind and listening to the clackity-clack of the wheels on the rails. Or maybe I'm sitting in a carriage in 1860s Ottawa, or riding a horse on a ranch in southern Saskatchewan, or even following a Prince into a castle while he tries to steal an enchanted knife from an evil sorceress.
And when I need to, I reluctantly come back to the hallway in my mind, shut the door and leave those characters for another day. Then I go about my business, looking for all the world like a "normal" person, a person who isn't trying to guide a ship through a raging storm while avoiding the cannons from the enemy fort.
I am very pleased to let you know that Book 2 in the Dust and Devils Series, Sin and Salvation, is almost ready to go to print. I am just finishing the formatting and hope to have it out to you all by the middle of September.
In preparation for its release, I am going to offer you a sneak peek at the new back cover copy for Sin and Salvation. Enjoy!
“I just learned that Jacob Harrow has a son. And I’d bet it’d be easier to make the boy talk than his old man.”
Those words spoken by a stranger in the Edmonton jungle drive Jake Harrow to leave behind the place he now calls home and set out in earnest on the search for his father. Still battling his own memories that threaten to destroy him, Jake follows the trail from the back streets of Edmonton to the Vancouver shipyards, trying to stay one step ahead of his father's enemies that he now knows are searching for him.
But a chance meeting in Northern Manitoba changes everything and Jake must decide whether he is willing to sacrifice his own life to save the life of another.
Readers have asked me why I chose to write about the 1930s. What was it about that time period that drew me to research and write about it?
There are two people that I credit with my love of history - Pierre Berton's books of Canadian history captured my attention, and my grandpa Emil Stock's stories about growing up in the 1930s piqued my interest in that period in particular. In high school, Grandpa Emil inspired my interest in family history as he was researching the Stock side of the family. When he passed away, he left me his family history information to me, including a handwritten copy of his life story. In that story, he had a large section about growing up in the 30s. I found the stories fascinating, so I began researching more.
My grandpa Emil Stock with his mother, brother and two sisters in 1934.
My grandpa Emil Stock as a boy in 1931.
Once I began researching the 1930s, I became fascinated with the time period. It was such a unique time in Canadian history - a time when being homeless and unemployed was a crime, but 26% of wage earners were unemployed by 1933, a time when the prairies were immersed in a drought that turned 2/3 of Saskatchewan farmland to desert by 1937, a time when men criss-crossed the country looking for work and adventure.
As I researched, I started imagining characters in the settings and events that I was reading about. And that is how Jake was born.
I'm going to start off my blog by answering questions from readers. One of the questions I was asked recently was whether I am ever tempted to head-hop or if I've ever used that point of view in a story.
First, I think I need to define what I mean when I use the terms "head hop" and "multiple points of view" so that we're all on the same page. When I think about head-hopping, I think about being inside multiple character's heads in the same scene. For example:
"I really love the salads here," Jenny said, wishing her plate wasn't already half empty. I have never seen someone eat that fast, Bert thought, watching Jenny's fork blur with speed.
In the above little snippet, I start in Jenny's head with her wish, but I hop to Bert's head to see what he's thinking. On the other hand, when I think about multiple points of view, each scene is written from only one character's point of view, but a different scene may be through the eyes of another character. For example, I might write the lunch scene from Bert's point of view, but the next scene might be from Jenny's point of view as she goes out that evening.
So as to whether I head hop or not, I try to never head hop. I find that it becomes too disjointed and is difficult to follow. I prefer to write each scene from only one point of view so the reader really gets to know that particular character.
Whether I decide to use multiple points of view in a story really depends on the story itself. With Jake's story, I am telling it in first-person and only from Jake's point of view. If you are using first-person, I prefer to only have one point of view. The challenge is that your reader won't know anything your main character doesn't, so you have to find unique ways to get information to the reader.
Some of the other stories I'm working on, like my Viking times novel, are told from multiple points of view because I have important events that not all characters can witness. It makes sense to have a couple different characters tell the story, although I still don't head-hop within a scene.
Even when I use multiple points of view in a story, I still try to have one main character who tells at least 60% of the story. I find that this helps the reader to really connect with at least one character and really start to care about that person and his or her life. As an avid reader, I find that I enjoy books more if I feel like I really get to know the main character and what makes him or her tick.
Each story will decide how it wants to be told. Don't be afraid to try writing it one way and change it if it's not working. That's what early drafts are for!