Friday, December 14, 2007

Swimming against the Current.

Thanks for the intro, Dom.

Hello, I’m Christopher Hoare, the new addition to the writers of the blog. Trailowner is the name I used to sign on to Blogspot for the blog I started back in 2006. It was supposed to be an advice and commentary site for people traveling off-road, since I’d been involved with off road travel since 1959, first in the British Army and then oil exploration in the Libyan Desert, Canadian mountains, bush and the Arctic. That direction for the blog didn’t attract attention – I guess there’s a certain machismo attached to getting stuck in mudholes that prevent the participants from seeking experienced input. I quickly switched the blog to my rant site whenever I needed to let off steam about public affairs.

I live in a small hamlet in southern Alberta tucked up against the Rocky Mountains at the entrance to the Crowsnest Pass. Looking north from our place one sees first the CPR Crowsnest line, then Highway 3, and down in the bottom of the valley the Crowsnest River on its way to meet the Castle and the North Fork to become the Oldman River. Retired from surveying in oil and gas exploration I now write full time.

The community is classic western, filled with cows and cowboys, and with a European outlook I’ve never pretended to fit in. That consideration was moot until my first novel, Deadly Enterprise a sci-fi adventure, was released this July. People are interested – I’m known fairly well, my wife and I have been here for 32 years – but the first questions usually is, “Is it a Western?”

Not exactly. It’s a story blending the future with a 17th century alternate world and the action takes place in an alternate Europe – a journey from what we call England to a city at the mouth of the river that today forms the boundary between Germany and Poland. It doesn’t have cows or cowboys, but it does have horses – and the female protagonist is somewhat of a swordfighting equivalent of a gunslinger.

I’m pleased to have placed or sold about 35 copies locally in the past three months, but most of my promotion is conducted on the internet to cajole readers to the e-book site and the POD paperback site on Amazon. I have to wonder what the response would have been if I’d worked on a historical western along the lines of Fred Stenson’s “Lightning” – that incidentally closes at a location on the Crowsnest River below the community where I live. (Fred described the place at a reading I helped organize for the Alberta Centenary.)

I have used the view from my deck as the basis for the map of Rast, the location for a fantasy novel that will be released in a year or so by Zumaya Publications. The Livingstone Range has become the Foghead mountains and the Porcupine Hills the Meronin Hills. The transition to prairie and the whole sweep of the land as far as the patriarchal kingdom of Easderly (Ontario & Quebec) has become the Undulains. I resurrected Palliser’s assessment for the land south of Hwy 3 because I needed a desert, which I imported from Cerenaica in Libya, complete with the Sebket es Sahiba – a salt marsh that now covers the Blood Indian Reserve and the town of Cardston. I hope I’m not visited by a lynch mob from the area when this new geography is revealed.

Those thoughts lead me to pose a question. Science fiction and fantasy writers do not write regional fiction, but how strongly does the geographical and demographic location of the writer figure in their output?

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