Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Finn Festival 2019!

Finn Festival 2019 is coming up. This cultural get-together is held in different locations every year. This year it's in Thunder Bay, and I'll be speaking about SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 FINNISH CIVIL WAR.

The festival runs June 20 through 22. Events will be held in what we locals still call PACI (Port Arthur Collegiate Institute), even though it's housed the Lakehead University law school for several years, as well as Waverley Park, Trinity United Church, and St. Paul's United Church.

I'll share more dates and times as I know them. Meanwhile, start exercising those wife-carrying muscles.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Author Panel Details

A week from tomorrow, I'll be participating in that panel discussion I mentioned last week.

Here's a poster for the event, showing the rest of the panel. I'm looking forward hearing their stories.

If you're in the area, check it out.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Ask an Author Panel

Thunder Bay has lots of interesting writers and a thriving community. I'm honoured to be appearing as part of a panel on April 4, 2019.

Sponsored by the Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW), the Ask an Author panel gives readers and writers an informal setting to get some burning questions answered. (Or at least discussed.) Jean Pendziwol, Heather Dickson, Jeannette Lynes, and I will all read briefly from a recent work and then be open to pontificating about our experiences in response to your questions.

More information about the format and panelists is at this link:

Other relevant details: April 4, 2019; 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Mary J L Black Library at 901 S. Edward Street in Thunder Bay.

See you there!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

A Writer's Life

The writing life can be a lot of fun.

For example--this month, I've attended a book club meeting, where SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 FINNISH CIVIL WAR was discussed. It was interesting to hear local readers compare notes: "Did you know about that?" "No, not until later." "I had no idea." "We walked back there often." "We went to the circus ever summer!" "My husband's grandmother refused to talk about her life before immigration." Et cetera. 

The books have been disappearing from the local chain bookstores, which means people are buying them. (Or they're lost in a back room somewhere--we are coming out of the busy season for all retailers, so that's possible.)

I've been chatting with many other writers working on books of history--fiction and otherwise. Having a book out there for people to read helps give me gravitas, though who knows whether I have earned it. 

Although "having written" and "having published" is fun, so is working on another project. 

For my companion novel to SILENCES, I've researched symptoms of lung disease, medical terminology from 1955 and earlier, the differences between psychopaths and sociopaths, and phases of the moon. 

My publisher and I are looking ahead to 2019 events. FinnFest, the celebration of Finnish culture, is in Thunder Bay this year--stay tuned to hear about our plans. 

Writing is a lot of fun--but it wouldn't be possible without readers. Thank you to everyone who reads, especially those who read the work of your friends and neighbours! 

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Readers and Writers

Since publishing SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 FINNISH CIVIL WAR, I've been involved in a lot of discussions. At the two signings this summer, some readers were surprised (and, I hope, interested) to learn that there even WAS a civil war in Finland. Others remembered summer in 1955 in Port Arthur (or Fort William or anywhere else, really) and enjoyed reminiscing.

A few reviews of SILENCES have appeared on Amazon. I've had generous, thoughtful email from readers and friends-of-friends who recognize places or attitudes or events.

I appreciate all of it. I have come to see how readers can help keep writers going.

Although researching and writing about war for SILENCES was no treat, my interest in the characters and how they responded to their choices forced me to keep wrestling with the material until I found out what happened.

Fitting together the pieces of my next novel, a companion to SILENCES, is requiring me to learn about corruption in business and government--what, in a crime novel, might be called the "seedy underbelly" of life in Canada in the early 20th century. It's more than a little sobering to see how easily people could move through the world without much regard for others. As with SILENCES, I'm writing to find out what happens.

I also think about how generous readers have been with their time and attention. I hope to exceed their expectations.

Thank you to you all.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Signing this Saturday at the Thunder Bay Chapters!

This Saturday, August 18! From noon until 4!

I'll be at Chapters in Thunder Bay to sign copies of SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 FINNISH CIVIL WAR and otherwise represent my publisher, Shuniah House Books.

Many other writers from the region will also be there--why not come see what's happening in the Northwestern Ontario literary world? (Psst: it's air-conditioned in there!)

The most up-to-date list of other participating authors: Sandi Boucher, Sam Convey, H. Leighton Dickson, Roma Fisher, Makenzi Fisk, Deanna Ford, Eva Kakepetum, Rob Kozak, Michelle Krys, Kyle Lees, Terrence McParland, Merk, John Pringle, Shannon Robertson, Evan Sills, and the Friends of the (Thunder Bay) Library.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018


I thoroughly enjoyed boring chatting with readers about all things Finnish Civil War at Saturday's signing at Coles. Here's the evidence:

Thanks to all who stopped by or cheered me on from your seats at the BluesFest! I very much appreciate all the support local readers show to local writers.

Stay tuned for information about an Author Extravaganza of some sort in August, sponsored by Chapters.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

See You Saturday!

A reminder: I'll be signing copies of SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 FINNISH CIVIL WAR this coming Saturday in Thunder Bay at the Coles at Intercity Mall, from noon until 4 p.m.

Come by to say hello, reminisce about Port Arthur in 1955, or share your parents'  or grandparents' emigration/immigration stories.

Many thanks to Coles for arranging this event.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

More Good News and a Signing!

Previously, I mentioned that SILENCES appeared on the longlist for the Northern Lit Award. We recently learned that it was shortlisted!

Again, thank you to Ontario Library Service-North for this honour.

Also, I'll be signing copies of SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 FINNISH CIVIL WAR at the Coles at the Thunder Bay Intercity Mall on Saturday, July 7, 2018, from noon until 4 p.m. Stop by to say hi!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Good News!

SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 CIVIL WAR appears on the longlist for the 2018 Northern Lit Awards!

This award recognizes the contribution that books make to the literature of the north. Be sure to check out the full longlist at this link.

It's a sincere honour for my work to appear in such sterling company!  Thank you, Ontario Library Service--North and all the libraries in northern Ontario!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Literary Events in Thunder Bay This Weekend

The Write NOWW LitFest is being held this weekend, May 4 and 5.


Friday night includes a FREE reading and conversation between Sandi Boucher and Angie Abdou, which is open to the public and for which registration is not required.

I'll be at the Saturday evening Gala Dinner and Awards--if you're there, look for me or check out the Celebration Table and flip through a copy of SILENCES: A NOVEL OF THE 1918 FINNISH CIVIL WAR.

More information about NOWW and the LitFest is here.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


I recently had an email from Lea (Waske) Springer, letting me know about CROSSING BORDERS, her father's memoir.

Subtitled "From Refugee to Freedom Fighter," the memoir is available from at this link. Toivo Waske began writing his memoirs in the 1980s. He was born in 1918 in Finland, where his family had fled from Russia to avoid the Revolution. In 1924, his family returned to Russia. In later years, he lived in Finland and Sweden before emigrating to Canada.

The book includes an account of Toivo's involvement in the Winter War and Continuation War. Described as "the ordinary patrol member's view," the memoir provides a fascinating account of everyday events during wartime.

I appreciate reading this first-hand account of turbulent times--which could describe all of  Europe in the 20th century. Kudos to the family for making this memoir available!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

SILENCES: Questions to Consider

Shuniah House Books asked me to come up with questions for readers to consider after reading SILENCES. The list of questions is linked here and on their website.

It's always interesting to know what a reader sees, as opposed to what the writer sees. In interviews, you often see writers talk about "being immersed" in the books they're writing, or "living with" their characters.

Historical fiction is a little different. I can get in a car and go 20 kilometres to town without much forethought, where the same trip for Jussi, with Viola or Perho pulling his cart, would take far more time and require preparation.

Even the Port Arthur of 1955 is gone--subsumed into Thunder Bay, its streets renamed and re-routed, the bush where Jimmy plays developed into parks.

For those reasons, I don't quite "live with" my characters, though I still think of Jimmy when I make toast.

Nevertheless, characters speak in my ear. I can look out my window in the early 21st century, and while my physical eyes see snow-covered birches, my mind's eye sees again the destruction of Tampere or a box holding shoes and boots.

So I hope the questions help you consider some of the questions I lived with while writing SILENCES. And if you have other questions, please be in touch!