November 2018

For about 12 years now, the majority of my days have been spent sitting at my writing desk, creating sentences, hemmed in by a fortress of books on sailing ships & shipwrecks, the British Royal Navy and the naval War of 1812, listening to the movie scores of Master & Commander and Pride & Prejudice (among others) that transport me back in time to a world that has long since passed away, and help me to imagine lives that were once played out on the high seas.  

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get a book published?

It all starts with the author. In the case of my book Blue Monday, about the Montreal Expos (and the infamous day in October 1981 when Rick Monday of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit a home run off Expos pitcher Steve Rogers in the ninth inning, giving the Dodgers a berth in the World Series), the journey began in October of 2016. I had initially thought of writing another general Expos history book, but then I decided to zero in on the 1981 team – the only one to make the playoffs in franchise history.

If you grew up in Windsor, you probably first learned about Prohibition through stories told to you by your grandparents. These bootleggers and their wild adventures along the Detroit River are a part of local folklore. As a kid, I didn’t really care how much of it was true – I just thought they were great stories. Then along came Marty Gervais’ The Rumrunners, full of photos, newspaper excerpts, and interviews, and that made it real.

We no longer have any veterans of the First World War still with us, and so we have lost that direct connection with their stories – of the tragedy of war; of the reasons why they enlisted to fight; of the impact of the war on them, their families, and their country. And so it is up to us, a century later, to remember and to learn their stories.

On this hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, let us not forget the many artists who served our country. With photography and cinematography in its infancy, artists covered the battlefront creating maps, diagrams, and sketches used to plan strategy. Moreover, their recruitment posters, military portraits, and depictions of battle fields and human suffering were used to publicize Canada’s significant contribution.

The First World War presented a number of challenges for Canadians, including the Prime Minister, Robert Borden. To begin with, the stress of the job had a huge impact on Borden's health. He was in capacitated by ill health in 1916 and confined to bed rest. As he wrote in his diary, he "was giving no attention at all to his work" as prime minister. Borden regularly got carbuncles or blisters on his neck as a reaction to the stress as well. 

 

 

November 11, 2018 is the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of the First World War. It was also one hundred years ago that my grandfather’s life was saved on the battlefields of France by his younger brother, Jack.

 

It seems like ancient history now – but I knew my beloved grandfather Charles Light very well, since he lived into my adulthood.

 

After a long, satisfying career writing two-minute television news stories, the seed for my first book was planted on a memorable day as I embarked on the job of a lifetime.

 

It was April 2011.  I had just landed my dream promotion:  London-based Europe Bureau Chief for Global National.  The taxi was waiting to take me to the airport to begin my posting, my first major assignment to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  As I said my goodbyes, my wife Isabella handed me a present.  It was a journal with a green leather cover.