Brandon Young

February 2018

In an earlier posting, I said something about Lio Lo, who painted the wonderful scene on the cover of The Hat.

It’s time to say something about Brandon Young, who looked after the interior design of that book. I spent days trying to find someone with skills I don’t possess to look after that all-important element in making a book look great. One false step led to another until, more or less out of the blue, I learned about Brandon Young, who lives in Australia. In the age of the internet, it really doesn’t matter where anyone lives anymore. Brandon (see photo) did a terrific job on the interior design of The Hat.

Brandon is a writer as well, and today, Feb. 20, he is launching a Kickstarter for an anthology of talented, emerging writers in Australia. Check it out at http://www.planetbastard.com

THE HAT at a special price

February 2018

Beginning Sunday, Feb. 18, the e-book version of The Hat will be discounted on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com and all other Amazon platforms.

Instead of its usual $4.99 USD, or $6.20 CAD, the digital version of the novel will be on sale for $2.99 USD, or $3.74 CAD. That sale price will last seven days.

The Hat continues to be free to people with Kindle Unlimited. The paperback price remains $8.99 USD on Amazon.com, or equivalent prices in Australia, France and other countries where it is available.

Edward Cornwallis … one last time

February 2018

It continues to surprise me how much emotion there is on the Edward Cornwallis issue. On both sides: those who want anything named after him to be changed and those who take umbrage at such demands.

But then, I spent a quarter century and more studying different aspects of 18th-century Nova Scotia history and after a while a researcher gets used to reading about scalps being taken and bounties being paid. What rarely gets noted in the Cornwallis debate as it has played out is that the French administration at Louisbourg was paying the Mi’kmaq for British scalps at the same time. That’s right, for those who find that surprising, the Mi’kmaq had warriors who were greatly respected (or feared, depending on the side.) They were not always victims; sometimes those warriors were taking the offensive in defense of their traditional territory.

Also relevant, to me at least, is that when Cornwallis introduced his scalp bounties he was essentially following the approach that had been introduced earlier in three other British colonies in North America.

For any historian who has gone through grad school, historical context is all-important. Trying to be succinct, I paraphrase what all historians take to be a truism: that people in the past often thought differently than we do now, just as those in the future will do so as well. We of 2018 will undoubtedly one day be faulted for something we are doing (or not doing) right now. Our warming of the planet comes to mind, as does our preference to not know what goes on in some of the factories that make our inexpensive clothes or slaughter some of our food.

Reduced to its simplest expression, the context argument is that Cornwallis did what he did because that was the approach widely used at the time. His scalp bounties were likely applauded by most if not all British colonists, some of whom may have been the ancestors of people who are today shocked that there were ever scalp bounties in NS. I am inclined to think that Cornwallis was reflecting the prevailing thinking of his era. That may depress some people to hear that, but let’s recall that the 18th century was a time when criminal justice trials ended in public punishments like whippings, branding, hangings and worse. Bodies were sometimes left hanging or put in cages as deterrents. Even more tragic, millions of Africans were regarded as property with no rights who could be enslaved and trafficked around the world. Racism, violence, prejudices, and religious fear and hatred were everywhere. Women and children and servants had few if any rights.

Based on the context argument, I suggest that if it hadn’t been Cornwallis to introduce scalp bounties, it would likely have been another British officer. As already noted, the French were paying the Mi’kmaq for the British scalps they brought to Louisbourg. Cornwallis followed suit.

All of which leads me to this: now that the Cornwallis statue is down, let’s consider talking about understanding and forgiveness. Some day, it will be us being judged by those who come later on, and our spirits will be hoping for some understanding that we also knew not what we were doing in our time.

The Hat on Kindle

January 2018

My latest book, The Hat, is now available exclusively through Amazon. I wrote it with YA readers in mind, but apparently adults are enjoying it as well. It comes in two formats, e-book and printed book. For the e-book version, readers with Kindle Unlimited can download it for free. For reasons best known only to Amazon, I could not give the same cover to the two different versions of the book. The image without the title and author on the cover—that information is on the spine and back cover—is the print version.

The Hat is about a well-known event in Canadian history, but I have written it without revealing to readers the “where and when” or even the who. I did this on purpose, to make the story fresh and to underline the universality of the human experience that the story reveals. At the end of the book, as an afterword, I give readers the historical background of event that inspired me to tell the story in the way I did.

When Truro was NYC

January 2018

“Because of them, Truro was our New York.”

That’s what a Halifax doctor, who grew up in Pictou, said to me a few years ago. He was referring to the 1960s Friday night Lincoln dances at the Colchester Legion.

No one who was ever at those dances would disagree. They were something special. None of us would have wanted to be anywhere else, than grooving to Frank MacKay and the band playing Soul and R&B.

Well, a half century later, the Lincolns are coming back—back to play in Truro at the Legion Branch 26. I have tickets for the Friday night event, but there will be a Saturday night show as well.

Fifty dollars may be fifty times more expensive than the Lincoln dances at the Legion dances used to be. But then, maybe that’s a small price for time travel?

And for a trip to our very own Nova Scotian New York.

Photos: tickets for 2018 lincoln show; banner on The Lincolns at the Colchester Historeum; AJBJ and Rod Norrie (original Lincoln drummer); and AJBJ and Mary T around the time when the Lincolns were still playing in Truro.

Leonard Cohen @ MAC

January 2018

Mary and I went to Montreal specifically to see the Cohen exhibit at the Musée de l’art contemporain (MAC). We were far from disappointed. The exhibition is great, and kept us there for three hours. If Leonard’s body of work means something to you, I urge you to go see the show before it ends in April 2018.