Lo­cal au­thor launch­ing new book

The Prince George Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - Frank PEE­BLES Cit­i­zen staff fpee­bles@pgc­i­t­i­zen.ca

The av­er­age life pin­balls be­tween mo­ments of chaos and mo­ments of grace.

North­ern lives are no dif­fer­ent in their gen­eral ba­sis, but the con­text for all of us who live here is the same: our land­scape.

We are shaped by our spa­ces, which in­cludes the nuts and bolts like our neigh­bours, co-work­ers, class­mates, weather, pro­fes­sion and lo­ca­tion of the places we go the most.

Glory is a state of mind, but it is also a char­ac­ter, a fic­tional hu­man in­vented by writer Gil­lian Wig­more. Glory is iron­i­cally named and also car­ries the weight of the ti­tle of Wig­more’s new novel.

It hits the streets with a launch party at Omineca Arts Cen­tre on Satur­day.

“I set it in Fort St. James, and I named it straight up, and that is scary,” said Wig­more. “I’m not from there (she was raised in Van­der­hoof, the town next door) but our fam­ily has had land there since about 1920 and our fam­ily still has a sum­mer place there.”

Stone’s Bay on Stu­art Lake is named for her fore­bearer, and if you tour the Na­tional His­toric Site fort sit­u­ated there, a great­grand­fa­ther is spo­ken of in the in­ter­pre­tive ma­te­ri­als. Wig­more found that some­what odd when she worked at the fort.

She has also worked at the Ea­gle Crest Pub and resided for a while in Fort St. James, but has al­ways been self-con­scious through­out the writ­ing process of her po­si­tion as a part-time Fort St. James res­i­dent.

“I’m an in­side out­sider,” she said, try­ing to make sense of it. “I can’t get the place out of my mind. I’m for­ever in­ter­ested in it. The land­scape alone is fas­ci­nat­ing. Van­der­hoof is bu­colic. Stu­art Lake is fe­ro­cious. It’s beau­ti­ful, ter­ri­ble, invit­ing, tragic, all of those things. It’s such a part of me.”

And then there are the peo­ple. Fort St. James is a full blend of abo­rig­i­nal and colo­nial cul­tures and all so­cioe­co­nomic sub­cul­tures – again, an op­po­site de­mo­graphic de­sign than the di­a­met­ric re­al­ity of Van­der­hoof – so as Wig­more wrote, she found the voices of her char­ac­ters blend­ing as well. It was so overt that she made a con­scious ef­fort to ex­punge all trace of eth­nic­ity from the fic­tional peo­ple in her book. Each one could be abo­rig­i­nal or not, colo­nial or not.

“I’m not writ­ing about any­one’s back­ground, I’m writ­ing about place, through the voices of char­ac­ters,” she said.

The strength of the char­ac­ters be­gan to re­shape the orig­i­nal con­cept of the novel out from un­der Wig­more’s ini­tial feet. It took a lot of time for that to hap­pen, since it oc­cu­pied the past 10 years of her life.

“It started as a straight­for­ward nar­ra­tive, A to B, but as I wrote it over such a breadth of time I just couldn’t main­tain a con­sis­tent sound or tone to it,” she ex­plained.

“I’m just not the same writer I was 10 years ago, so the book couldn’t re­ally stay static ei­ther. A small town, a re­ally small town, can de­stroy you or build you, and both of those things by word of mouth. Hearsay is such a tool of life in a com­mu­nity of that size, so the novel just took that on and be­came poly­phonic – told through so many voices.”

Some of the themes that emerge in strong­est force are post­par­tum de­pres­sion, the way peo­ple aren’t all bad even if they do rep­re­hen­si­ble things, and even the lake it­self comes off as a char­ac­ter.

The long time spent cre­at­ing Glory was not Wig­more’s only oc­cu­pa­tion over that time. She is well known in her home re­gion and across Canada as a poet, plus the novella Grayling re­leased in 2015.

She also had to shape her life as a writer around be­ing a wife, home­owner, li­brar­ian (she helps man­age the Nechako branch of the Prince Ge­orge Pub­lic Li­brary), and es­pe­cially par­ent. The pulls and pushes of those fac­tors tend to do­mes­ti­cate a writer’s ap­proach to the un­writ­ten ma­te­rial grow­ing wild in the brain.

So, Glory took her time to be fully born onto the page, but she has now ar­rived with all her fin­gers and toes (and lakes).

Wig­more will be in Toronto for her eastern Cana­dian launch of the novel. As a for­mer singer-song­writer (not that such an oc­cu­pa­tion can ever be truly quashed within the heart of a cre­ative per­son) she is thrilled at the lo­ca­tion of that event. Her On­tario-based pub­lisher In­vis­i­ble Pub­lish­ing set the party up at Gross­man’s Tav­ern, the leg­endary rock ‘n’ roll con­cert venue.

Her Prince Ge­orge launch event on Satur­day is also in­side cre­ative con­fines. It is free to at­tend the 7 p.m. fam­ily-friendly party (read­ing at 8 p.m.) where the first copies of Glory will be avail­able.

HAND­OUT PHOTO

Prince Ge­orge writer Gil­lian Wig­more is the proud par­ent of a new book. Her novel Glory is set to be re­leased Satur­day night at a pub­lic read­ing party at the Omineca Arts Cen­tre.

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