Til­lot­son Achive­ment in the mid­dle

First novel from Stanstead hu­morist

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

For those who read that lit­tle ‘teaser’ of an ex­cerpt from hu­mor colum­nist Ross Mur­ray’s first novel about the won­der­ful town of Beaverly in Tap­root V, I’m sure Ross Mur­ray has writ­ten his first novel, A Hole in the you’ll all be happy to know Ground, and launches it Satur­day at Town­ship­pers’ Day.

that the ‘Beaverly book’ is fi­nally out! A Hole in the Ground, the name of the new novel, is about what hap­pens when the small town of Beaverly sud­denly has an emer­gency to deal with. Hav­ing had the chance to read the first few chap­ters, the char­ac­ters are well-de­vel­oped and quite col­or­ful, some­times ec­cen­tric, and there’s even a small news­pa­per in town. Sound fa­mil­iar?

“No sin­gle char­ac­ter or in­sti­tu­tion in the novel is based on some­one or something from real life. I’ve taken my ex­pe­ri­ences of deal­ing with a small town, and work­ing on a small town news­pa­per. But as I wrote on the copy­right page: This is a work of fiction. Any sim­i­lar­ity to per­sons liv­ing or dead is purely co­in­ci­den­tal, but, you know, knock your­self out.”

The Beaverly story is set in 1998, the same year that the seed for Mr. Mur­ray’s novel first sprouted in his comic brain. “Af­ter the ice storm, many towns were caught short, but af­ter they all had to come up with emer­gency plans. I was on Stanstead’s new emer­gency com­mit­tee and I was work­ing at the Stanstead Jour­nal. That got me won­der­ing about what I’d do if there was an emer­gency, hav­ing to wear both hats,” he ex­plained. That idea as a premise for a funny novel “hung on for years.” Asked to speak about small-town life at a QAHN con­fer­ence a few years ago, pre­par­ing for that speech got Ross think­ing again about his fic­tional town.

“I knew it would be a comic novel; it’s a style I’m com­fort­able with. It took about a year to plan the story and then I started writ­ing. I knew an emer­gency had to

sits on a stack of his new novel, get­ting the books ready for mail de­liv­ery. hap­pen, and then a puz­zle. Writ­ing it was a re­ally en­joy­able, creative process. It’s the pub­lish­ing and print­ing, and the pub­lic­ity that’s a strug­gle,” he ad­mit­ted.

The au­thor car­ried out a Kick­starter cam­paign to raise money to help with the print­ing costs, promis­ing to mail copies of his new book to those who had pledged $20. “I had it all fig­ured out. It would cost $7 to mail each book; I checked it out at the post of­fice.” When the freshly printed books ar­rived, Ross put them in their en­velopes and headed to the post of­fice. “The books wouldn’t fit through the slot and it was go­ing to cost me three times as much to mail them!” Af­ter each en­ve­lope was in­di­vid­u­ally squished, they just fit through that magical mea­sure.

Asked for a lit­tle pre­view for our read­ers, Mr. Mur­ray gra­ciously pro­vided the fol­low­ing ex­cerpt:

Jem biked past Pine Knot Street and was al­most at the of­fice. Up ahead, a man and a woman were stand­ing on the side­walk, pass­ing a cam­era back and forth. Tourists, she thought. They were her age but from bet­ter genes, prob­a­bly the kind of genes money could buy. They were gig­gling and ges­tur­ing at the sign on the lawn in front of the build­ing, a rel­a­tively mod­ern hall, the type that looked like it would be filled with stack­ing chairs and cu­bi­cle di­viders, which it was. This was, as the carved wooden sign an­nounced, the Corey Hart Cen­tre for Con­tin­u­ing Ed­u­ca­tion. Writ­ten in script below the name of the cen­tre, the sign read “Some Classes At Night.”

“I hope peo­ple en­joy the book – it’s a light read. My goal was to make peo­ple laugh,” Ross con­cluded.

Mr. Mur­ray will be launch­ing A Hole in the Ground at Town­ship­pers’ Day, in Knowl­ton on the Brome Fair­grounds, this Satur­day. He’ll be at the Town­ships Ex­pres­sions kiosk most of the day and will read from his novel be­tween 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm. He’ll be joined by new au­thor Tri­cia McDaid who will read from her semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal mem­oir All the Aun­ties. Ross will do fur­ther read­ings on Oc­to­ber 2nd at Hal Newman’s Stanstead House Con­cert, On Oc­to­ber 12th at the Len­noxville Li­brary, and on Oc­to­ber 13th at the Knowl­ton Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val.

A Hole in the Ground is avail­able at the Colby-Cur­tis Bou­tique, the Stanstead Familiprix Phar­macy, Stu­dio Ge­orgeville, and at blurb.ca. Vis­it­ing chil­dren had a great view of the sheep at the Berg­erie et fro­magerie Nou­velle-France, in Racine, last Sun­day. Pr in t e d an d di s t r i b u t e d by P r es­sReader

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Ross Mur­ray

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