A Different Muslim

After Blood Brothers was published, I’d often get comments like “I enjoyed the book but I didn’t get why your main character is a Muslim.” It’s a good question, the answer to which is both simple and complex. Here’s the simple part, which has mostly to do with how I write fiction. My characters take on their own lives in my subconscious.  After a while, they act as if it’s their story, not mine.  If that makes no sense to you, it didn’t to me either, but that’s what happens, so I just work with it.  When I’m deep into a novel, as I am now with the sequel to Blood Brothers, I go to bed at night while my characters are busy getting into mischief — or worse. I wake up, and there they are, all excited to tell me what they’ve experienced while I was asleep. I first became aware of my main character Henry Doyle when he was a 10 year old boy, sitting high up in a huge oak tree, looking at the British officers and Iroquois chiefs in front of Johnson Hall in the Mohawk Valley in 1770, wondering who his father might be. The bastard son of a white woman and Sir William Johnson,  the British superintendent for Indian Affairs in New York,  Henry was raised by the Mohawks as a  warrior fighting against the American “Rebels”  in an unsuccessful attempt to keep white settlers from stealing the rich Mohawk homeland in New York during the Revolution. Having both terrified and pissed off the Americans, Henry left America when Britain lost the war to...

Dead Towns of Newfoundland

In July 2014, I joined my brother Pete, his friend Gene Carlson, captain of Exit, a Passoa 46, built by Garcia in Normandy, and crew member Tom Mann, on a cruise from Nova Scotia along the south coast of Newfoundland. We poked into the rapidly disappearing outports on our way, starting with Grand Bruit. The 2008 Cruising Guide to Newfoundland had promised a wonderful experience of a departing way of life. Grand Bruit is a quaint isolated fishing community only accessible by boat. The name “Grand Bruit,” no doubt French, means “great noise” as is apparent by the roar of the falls which can be heard from a great distance. The community is situated on the shores of a well protected harbour with sloping hills and a waterfall that makes a path through the centre of the village. A visit to this picturesque fishing village will take you on a path that is dotted with brightly colored houses, providing an opportunity to meet with the friendly people of Grand Bruit. Because of its safe and interesting location, the Grand Bruit harbour has become a popular resting point for visitors to the area by way of pleasure crafts. Natural and traditionally Newfoundland, the settlement of Grand Bruit remains among the now few isolated fishing communities on the island. It offers a truly unique experience that is filled with the rich culture and heritage of outport Newfoundland. We were looking forward to meeting people and enjoying a home-cooked meals at the “Cramalot Inn.” The Go Western Newfoundland Brochure declared “the annual population of about 30 residents more than doubles during July...

My Journey

I’ve always loved to travel. We live in a visually and emotionally stunning world, one that opened up in front of me as a child in the world of books. I left home in my imagination long before I boarded my first plane. But the real joy of traveling is being with people I love: with my girls, Mary and Jenny when they were younger, and with JoAnn and our closest friends, now. Why not share the excitement? Australia, Austria, England, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa,  Spain, and of course the United States … they’ve all been adventures, although in some moments more exciting than my traveling companions might have wished. What I learned to treasure were the people we met. It helps to speak a little of the language and respect the culture; in addition to French, Spanish, Italian, and a little German, JoAnn and I even got around a bit in Hungarian. In a world that new seems hell-bent on anger and violence, it’s easy to miss the fact that people can be wonderful and friendly. The most important journeys, however, are those I’ve taken inside myself. The goal matters: discovering one’s own capacity for love and courage. But you can’t control outcomes. Ultimately you surrender to the journey itself and where it takes you.  This blog category is devoted to sharing these journeys with you....