Posted by Literary Titan
Trillium follows three Canadian families as their stories intertwine over generations and through many obstacles. What served as your inspiration while writing this novel?
I began this novel in my mind almost a decade ago. I did a rough outline at the time and popped it into my writing box. I had wanted to write a work about the rural farming landscape that supports us in an engaging and believable way. At the same time, I wanted to investigate the moral dimensions of humanity on a broader canvas than my previous two novels.
It was while I was researching ‘screen culture’ for an article that I began to see the ‘key’ in how I could manifest this current work.
Many of the revolutionary technological innovations that we now take so much for granted, like electricity, indoor plumbing, the automobile, aviation and the pill, happened within the last century. These life-changing innovations have allowed us to leap forward in an unprecedented way. As a result, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to fathom what life was like, (and still is like for many), without these modern conveniences.
Using a class structure, over the passage of time, allowed me to examine the impact of these techno-innovations on the evolution of the three very distinct families. As example, the O’Sullivan clan, because of their wealth, had immediate access to the innovations of the day long before the poorer classes, be it a telephone or a tell-a-vision. This access established ‘privilege’ for generations to come.
The characters and families were well developed and distinct. What were some driving ideals behind the families development throughout the story?
As I mentioned above, one of my desires in crafting this work was to examine the adopted moral structures of humanity.
Firstly, each family in this story comes from a very different inherited religious background. Religious doctrines shape our morals and are often manifest in the minute decisions that we daily make, for good and/or evil.
When we decide on anything, underlying that decision is a choice about the betterment or ruin of ourselves and others. Whether it be the 10 commandments, or The Golden Rule, or social ostracism or foul play, organized religions provide humanity with a moral framework. How we internalize these inherited religious codes greatly impact how we socially engage with others, especially within families and within civil communities.
A bully, as example, is, fundamentally, someone who never internalized the difference between ‘right or wrong’ behaviour. If they did internalize the ‘rules’ at an early age, they know full well that they are choosing ‘wrong’ behaviour when they bully. The inevitable internal conflict can manifest in many ways through the eventual self-destructive use of drugs and alcohol or the exercising of perverted power in intimate relations. Very often bullies continue to act out destructive behaviours on themselves and others because they have no understanding or fear of consequences. Simply put, they have no self-governing set of ‘rules’.
I would argue that, basically, bullies secretly desire the ‘structure’ of ‘good parenting’. Many bullies, aside from a deep craving for attention, want to be disciplined. But if their own parents never exhibited ‘good behaviour’, (as result of their own upbringing), the likelihood that a child will develop ‘good behaviour’ is very slim. When a child sees how their bullying parents achieve their desired ends, that child naturally internalize these ‘lessons’ and will act out in the same way in later life. And thus, the cycle of abuse continues. I have demonstrated how this vicious cycle re-occurs within generations throughout the novel.
Secondly, the impact of ‘media’ to shape our moral structures has increased exponentially over the past few decades. Within this historical fiction, I have slipped in some of those media innovations, beginning with the literate broadsheets of the eighteenth century. I moved into radio culture prior to WW2, and then introduce the advent of black and white film and television in the mid to late 1940s. Computers began to impact our work places and then enter our homes as recreational ‘video games’ in the mid 1990s.
Today, we are rapidly moving from a hard-won literate culture to a super stimulated visual culture. We are bombarded by a visual plethora of ‘info-entertainment’ from an assortment of screen sources that are designed to over-stimulate our dopamine receptors. All of us have succumbed to ‘click bait’. I wanted to reveal some of this increasing intrusive dependency towards the end of this novel. Though, overall, the latter media intrusion of the internet is intended as a sub-text to the on-going generational actions and reactions of the dominant characters at that time.
Finally, to be clear, I am not suggesting that organized religion, per se, is a panacea for the ills of humanity. We all know that religious indoctrination can obviously swing too far to the extreme. But I do believe that sound ‘elder’ teaching, supported by tight communities of engaging families, can sincerely help floundering individuals who flail. I demonstrated that kind of communal guidance and support when Tom Hartford’s descendent, Faith Hartford, wisely counsels Tony Di Angelo after his unhinged act of revenge. Her display of forgiveness was a profoundly social act of instruction – and acceptance. Faith was very kind to an emotionally wounded man.
This story takes place in the Golden Horseshoe region of Ontario Canada during the 1750’s. Why did you choose this time and place for your novel?
The story starts in the 1750s. Like a skipping stone on a body of water, time does skip forward quickly. At the middle of the book, the lineage of the three diverse families coalesce at a summer bonfire bash in 1965. The remainder of the novel plays out over the following decades, and the story ends in 2001. I ended the work then because I did not want to enter too far into the digital age.
I chose the Niagara region as emblematic of a ‘border-territory’ and the evolution of a farming culture that eventually specializes in wine-making. This region is beautiful, with the escarpment above and the great lake of Ontario below, and relatively unknown on the world stage. It’s a fascinating area, historically, and well worth a visit.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am developing an audio version of this title and hope to have that available by the summer of 2019. I also feel that this work has the innate potential to be an engrossing television series that will appeal to a broad range of viewers. I am going to attempt to do that too.
Screen culture now rules the marketplace of ideas. If I hope to impact others with this story, I really must try to reach a wider audience beyond the realm of the literate.
TRILLIUM could easily have a sequel, but, at this time, I have no intent to do that. As I mentioned, it has the potential to be a wonderful television or Netflix series …
Insightful, compelling, engrossing and enlightening, TRILLIUM intimately portrays the intertwining evolution of three very distinct families in the wine-making region known as Niagara in the Golden Horseshoe region, Ontario, Canada. …It all starts when 19-year-old Tom Hartford crosses over the mighty Niagara River in the 1750s … Readers will meet Maaka, an ingenious indigenous trapper; Franco, a dirt poor Sicilian labourer; Paddy O’Sullivan, a sweet-talking Irish con-artist and sweet Cate, the Hamilton port prostitute. And that’s just the beginning! All unfolds with a pair of motherless red-headed twin brothers, a diabolical hate-filled drunkard, two devoted raven-haired sisters, an obsessed land developer, hard-working Mexicans, a blind man, a handsome Italian-Canadian wine-maker, a blessed treasure trove of attentive mothers, one demented vineyard-wandering wife – and a startlingly beautiful, simpleton savant, Anna.A 250 year-old story about three families: the good, bad … and ugly.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
The Taking of Peggy Martin follows an enigmatic young nurse working at an institution for the criminally insane. What was the inspiration for Peggy’s character background?
Peggy Martins character came to me one rainy day. I grew up in the deep south. I am a Registered Nurse and like Peggy, I have worked with psychiatric patients. As I began to wander in memory of patients I had encountered, Peggy all but appeared to me. I suddenly felt her devotion. We shared that commonality, but it didn’t stop there. There were so much more and suddenly our lives intertwined. I adopted her persona and added fragments of my own life, an overly religious Grandmother, and the pieces to the story just fell into place. Add in the painful loss of my father when I was quite young which resulted in a childhood haunted by aberrations and ‘The Taking of Peggy Martin’ was born.
Peggy Martin is a pious woman that has had some horrible things happen around her. What were something that you felt were important for Peggy’s character development?
Loss. Painful loss and an undying need to find truth. Survival.
This is an engaging and mysterious thriller that touches on deep emotions. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Although fragments of real life events are woven into this novel, it is fantasy. If there was one thing to take away from this story it is, that it doesn’t take guts to quit. Even in the face of evil, one can persevere.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next novel is Chasing the Red Queen. The setting is Sault Ste. Marie Michigan and her sister city by the same name in Ontario.
Fact; It is written in the ancient birch parchments of the Ojibwe (Indigenous people) that Seven Miigis (spirits) known as (Radiant Iridescents) presented themselves (over a thousand years ago) to the people in the Waabanakiing (Land of the Dawn, i.e., Eastern land) to teach the Mide (culture) way of life. One spirit known as the Seventh was too powerful and killed those in his presence. The other Six spirits took to the river and swam back to the ocean from whence they came.
Chasing the Red Queen is a beautiful, modern day love story with relentless action, elite battles, steamy passion and the ghastly realization that just because one chooses not to believe in the paranormal, doesn’t make it a given.
The setting is East Texas, where Peggy, a young nurse, works at an institution for the criminally insane. After her husband Danny is mysteriously killed in a car accident, she convinces herself that it was murder… and she knows the murderer by name… Jasper Johnson. When she gets notice from Marbelle Johnson, Jasper’s mother, requesting an impromptu meeting, she discovers that the filthy rich oil baroness believes Danny to have been the bastard child of her deceased husband, Charles Johnson.
Peggy, irreparably damaged from childhood by religious fanaticism, reluctantly agrees to exhume Danny’s body. Reeling with doubt, all the while fearing betrayal by the Johnsons, she finds herself bordering on insanity.
Shackled in darkness, Peggy throws herself into her work only to find herself face to face with a blonde haired, blue eyed schizophrenic in a straitjacket. Quite by circumstance she discovers that this patient, Morgan Dubois, who as a child was found burrowed in the ground in the Piney Wood Thicket, has a link not only to her late husband, but also to the aberrations of her mind.
As secrets are revealed and it becomes apparent that something or someone wants to silence their tongues, Peggy is forced to seek refuge with the Johnsons. Together, as death finds them, one by one, they set upon a perilous journey in search of truth. Deep in the heart of the Piney Wood Thicket, they stumble upon Cypress Creek and discover an existence older than time itself. Peggy, caught in a maelstrom of emotions, torn between two worlds, finds herself in a desperate battle, not only for her life, but for that of all of mankind.
Posted in Interviews
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