Animal adventure inspires Archaeologist’s first novel
Archaeologist Robert Chadwick, who is better known for taking adventurous Townshippers to countries in the Near East, such as Jordan and Egypt, to explore archaeological ruins, has written his first fiction novel and its theme might surprise you: it’s a cat and dog adventure story.
However, when an archaeologist sits down to write about cats and dogs, it’s not surprising that historical research on the subject is woven into the story, adding an element of educational fun to the captivating read.
Mr. Chadwick, who also teaches part-time at Bishop’s University, recently spoke with the Stanstead Journal about his book Buster and the Magic Star – A Cat and Dog Adventure Story, and what motivated him to write it. “About four or five years ago, we lost our cat Buster for four or five months. It wasn’t easy finding him and getting him back, but when we did I said: I have to write a book!”
Although Robert had written an archaeological book ten years ago, entitled First Civilizations: Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, fictional writing would prove to be a different ball game. “I really didn’t know how to write fiction when I started. I had to re-write the story dozens of times! I was very fortunate in that I got a lot of good critical feedback from friends and neighbours who were nice enough to take the time to read it.”
Thanks to all the cat and dog research that Mr. Chadwick did while writing Buster, the book is filled with interesting historical and scientific facts about our four-footed friends. “I researched the history of cats and dogs, and read veterinary manuals. In the past ten years there’s been an explosion in cat research. It’s been discovered that cats are much closer to their wild ancestors than we previously believed.” Going on to explain why cats seem so aloof when compared to dogs, he added: “Cats are not social animals. They hunt small animals in the wild so they hunt alone. Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, hunted large animals so they needed their friends.”
Remembering how distressed he had become when the real life Buster was missing for five months also motivated the archaeologist to research the cat – human connection. “In 2004, a French archaeologist excavated a human/cat burial site on the island of Cyprus. That really caught my eye because if you find a human and an animal buried together, it’s loaded with questions. Until that discovery, the belief was that cats originated in Egypt,” said Mr. Chadwick.
Based on the true story of his cat Buster’s disappearance and set in the Eastern Townships, the novel also weaves local history into the fictional tale, making it a particularly interesting read for Townshippers familiar with the Tomifobia/Stanstead area. It should also be mentioned that Mr. Chadwick’s other two cats and dogs are also in the book. “They are all in the story – dogs do play a big role – and they were flattered to be included,” he joked.
When asked what he learnt from his latest book-writing adventure that was most surprising, Mr. Chadwick answered: “It was surprising to learn that we are so much closer to cats and dogs than I realized!”
Eager to share the interesting facts about cats and dogs that he discovered while writing the book, Mr. Chadwick has done several talks based on his research at places such as at the Osher Lectures in Vermont, Bishop’s University and the Atwater Library, in Montreal. “My talk is called Cats and Dogs and the Origins of Civilization, and I can do it in either English or French, in Canada or in the United States. Now I’m thinking about writing a book of that title.” Groups interested in hearing Mr. Chadwick’s free presentation can contact him at 819 876-7916 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buster and the Magic Star – A Cat and Dog Adventure Story is available on Amazon, at Black Cat Books and at Brome Lake Books, and at the Haskell Library.
Archaeologist Robert Chadwick’s is seen here with his first novel: Buster and the Magic Star. The book’s cover was designed by local graphic artist Tim Doherty.
The real-life Buster is seen here with his loyal companion,