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.

What’s in a name, a particular person’s name?

November 2012

The central character of Thomas, A Secret Life carries the same name and some of the life details of an actual historical personage, one Thomas Pichon (1700-1781). Contrary to a couple of Atlantic Canada reviews of the book, however, my intention was not exactly to bring that personage to life. Well, maybe it was in the beginning. But it ceased to be as the character came to his own life on page after page. I now see my Thomas Pichon as a quite independent character all on his own. He stands apart from the literal historical figure, and does so more and more as the page count grows. With hindsight, I see this was inevitable because I began my story when Thomas was age twelve. That was long before the historical Thomas Pichon really offered much evidence at all. My guess is that my Thomas has more than a little in common with Annabel Lyons’ Aristotle in her novel, The Golden Mean. Or how about I think back to high school English courses I once took.  I guess I aspire to do with Thomas what I was told Shakespeare did with Hamlet, Macbeath and many other historical figures. He made them his own. I figure if I’m going to aspire with my central character, I might as well aspire big. So, if there are readers out there who have no idea (and what’s more don’t care) who Thomas Pichon really was, don’t give it a thought. My Thomas is for you. If someday you want to check out the other guy, that’s what history books are for. Thomas, A Secret Life is not of that genre; it’s a novel.