Credit where credit is due

March 2013

I have the feeling most readers don’t pay much attention to the acknowledgements section in a book. I can understand. Yet these generally short sections are important to authors. It’s where the various people who made the book a reality are given their due. My next book, due out in a few weeks, is Louisbourg: Past, Present, Future. I’d like to acknowledge in this entry the others behind the book.

The idea for a fresh take on Louisbourg came not from me at all. I suppose I thought I’d written enough about the place. It was Patrick Murphy, Managing Editor of Nimbus Publishing who suggested in May 2012 that it might be appropriate to have a new book on Louisbourg to mark the tercentenary of the French founding in 1713. I mulled it over for a couple of days and decided that yes, Patrick was right. I could put together a book that tells the Louisbourg story for a broad audience in a more sweeping way than I or anyone else have told it before. That would mean beginning the history five thousand years ago — when the harbour was formed — and continuing on through the French period into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well. And then I wanted to cap it off with a glimpse into the likely near future of the place.

Right from the start, I wanted to enlist Parks Canada historian, Anne Marie Lane Jonah, and Parks Canada archaeologist, Rebecca Duggan, as contributors to the project. I thought initially as co-authors, but the timeline was too short. So instead, they agreed to contribute a few short essays each. Those pieces add extra depth in their areas of expertise.

Meanwhile, once I had a finished text, most of which I wrote in a couple of months, the manuscript was placed in the hands of Nimbus editor Whitney Moran. What a great contribution Whitney made. She tightened the writing and spent countless hours sorting through several hundred image candidates. (Too many image possibilities, which was my fault.) Hat off to Whitney. I think in the end she may have spent as much time on the book as I had myself. The final step saw the package being given to Nimbus designer, Jenn Embree. She did a wonderful job packaging the whole thing, which turned it into a book.

Two New History Articles

February 2013

The latest issue of The Nashwaak Review (Vol. 28/29), contains two articles of mine. One is “The Overlooked Importance of the Turning Points Before Québec, 1759” and the other is “Thinking green (and not) in 18th-Century Louisbourg”. Both started out as conference papers; the first given in London in 2009 and the second in Québec in 2008.

Stewart Donovan, editor of The Nashwaak Review, has made both of those pieces, and others by other authors, available as pdfs on the journal’s web site. Here’s the link.

History, history

January 2013

It’s been a busy January, and pretty much all history not fiction. I’ve been revising the text and finding suitable images for the forthcoming book on the Landscape of Grand Pré World Heritage Site; making the occasional last-minute touch to the upcoming Louisbourg: Past, Present, Future; adding new material and making revisions to Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island and on top of that I extracted material from that forthcoming book by Jesse Francis and myself to come up with a 2500-word essay on the Mi’kmaq for a catalogue for an upcoming exhibit at the Musée du Nouveau Monde in La Rochelle, France. All fun, but I’m getting eager and a little impatient to get back to Thomas and his adventures in the fiction genre.

Four interviews about Thomas, A Secret Life

January 2013

When I was in Sydney in November 2012 I sat down with Laura Bast of the CBU Press and we chatted about a range of angles related to the writing of Thomas, A Secret Life. Links to the video segments of that interview have now been posted on the CBU Press web site. There are four separate segments, each about four to five minutes long.

Name changes

December 2012

I have received the newsletter of the Colchester Historical Society in the mail, and am pretty pleased to see that they have officially changed the name of the museum they operate in Truro, Nova Scotia to the Colchester Historeum. It’s a name I suggested to them a few years back when our Camus Productions team came up with an interpretive concept for the building. It is the second museum in Nova Scotia where I’ve successfully suggested new names in the past few years. The other was what used to be the Musée Acadien in West Pubnico. Our Camus team worked with them a few years ago and at an early meeting I observed that their name was generic and not revealing or suggestive of what they were about. Had they considered something more specific, which reflected the distinctive stories they present? I gave a couple of options, one of which — Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos — they agreed would be better. It pleases me to see both changes.

If Thomas, A Secret Life were to have a soundtrack

November 2012

If books could have musical soundtracks, the way  films do, there is one I would definitely choose. That is François Couperin’s haunting melody “Les barricades mystérieuses”. Its mood and momentum suit Thomas and his journey through life like nothing else I can imagine. No surprise perhaps, since Couperin published the song when Thomas was seventeen, and it is a song that is still as appealing and mysterious now as when it was first heard. Should any readers not know and wish to track it down, that’s easily done on the internet. Then imagine it coming and going at appropriate moments in the book as you read.