May 2017

Bringing the Funny

Posted on May 30 by Mark Sampson in Fiction

Being an author almost always means being a reader first. Before I set out on any new writing project — whether it’s the lengthy drudge of a novel, or the more abbreviated jaunt into a short story or poem — I become very cognizant of, and even go back and reread, major works written in a similar vein that came before.

Michael Hill is the author of The Mariposa Folk Festival, and the festival's unofficial historian too. Both the festival and Dundurn had some questions for Michael about writing the book and his interest in folk music's legendary roots.

Here are a few questions we asked him, and a video Q&A he did with the festival below.

Tell us about your book: What was your inspiration? Were there overarching themes you felt compelled to explore?

I was inspired to write about my tour in Afghanistan after I came home in 2006 and this resulted in the strict accounting of events and combat actions described in my first book, What the Thunder Said: Reflections of a Canadian Officer in Afghanistan (2009). This book is a war story of a logistics unit.  It is all about the “up and out” experiences of my battalion. 

At one point in Widow’s Walk, the twenty-ninth novel in Robert B. Parker’s masterful series featuring Spenser, the Boston private eye, Spenser says to another character in the book, “In all the years I’ve known you, you haven’t aged any more than I have.”

    The joke in this remark is that at the time—Widow’s Walk is a 2002 book—Spenser would have been all of seventy-two years old!

A Canadian veteran of the Second World War has been awarded France’s highest military and civic order of merit, the Legion of Honour. Murray Peden was presented with the Legion of Honour as a member of the aircrew who flew supplies to the French Forces of the Resistance.

Four children’s books have been selected by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for its twice-yearly publication of Best Books for Kids & Teens. The titles are: Everton Miles is Stranger Than Me by Philippa Dowding; In Over Her Head by Melody Fitzpatrick; Missing Piece by Robert Priest; and White Jade Tiger (second edition) by Julie Lawson.

Part of my novel, After the Bloom, is set in a decrepit boarding house in the Bloor/Lansdowne neighbourhood of Toronto. This house is inspired by an actual house I visited with my father a number of years ago – the house where he grew up. He lived there during the postwar era, after his family had been released from Japanese internment camps on the west coast (my grandmother was interned in Minidoka, Idaho, and my grandfather in Kaslo, B.C.).