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Scars is Coming Soon!!!

Scars is Coming in July!

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Launch Invite for Stone, Book 1 of 4 in the 7 Generations Series.

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment
Launch Invite for Stone

You're invited to attend the launch for Stone at Chapters, April 15 at 7:00pm.

APTN National News Spot for 7 Generations

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Check out the great National News story on 7 Generations here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igIrsZxBSLc

Stone, Book 1 of 4 in the 7 Generations series will be complete in the next 2 weeks or so. Very exciting!

A Long Overdue Update

November 18, 2009 5 comments

Believe it or not, it’s been a busy week or so. Where to start…on Friday November 13th, 2009, it was the 38th anniversary of Helen Betty Osborne’s murder. To mark this occasion, I had a book reading and talk scheduled at Aqua Books with Beatrice Mosionier, author of April Raintree and her new book: Come Walk With Me: A Memoir. I was almost more excited to meet Beatrice than to do my reading.

But before the reading, I was emailed by APTN in the late morning. They wanted to do an interview with me as they were also aware it was the anniversary. So, I did the interview and it aired on Friday evening on the APTN National News. Find the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKbtQLXjxeg

The reading that night was incredible. At Aqua Books, there was a standing-room-only crowd. Elder Betty Ross did the opening prayer, and then I went up and did my thing. I gave a good talk, mostly concentrating on the need for the book to create awareness of our missing and murdered Aboriginal Women. (the book being The Life of Helen Betty Osborne). At the end, I played an excerpt from the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair’s speech at the launch of the graphic novel in December and gave a short reading. I think we sold  a good number of books that evening.

Beatrice went after me and she read a bunch of excerpts from Come Walk With Me and gave a nice talk between passages. Her new book is a beautiful piece of literature for many reasons. Most strikingly, perhaps, is how she survived the struggles in her life. She is at once good humoured, innocent, strong, and moral. That’s what struck me most, and got me to examine myself: even when she did things she wasn’t proud of, she realized it immediately. Those times aren’t very often, mind you. It seems that even as a child, she had a keen sense of what was morally right, and lived by that. She never touched alcohol, either. It’s a fascinating, powerful book. Inspiring. And when I emailed her about it, she wrote back that she thought it would be inspiring maybe to mothers, you know…and I realized immediately what a humble person she is. Because anybody, especially an Aboriginal person, who reads this book will be inspired. Let’s face it: we struggle, we experience struggles because of who we are, and that’s just a fact. And how we make it through those struggles is important. And how Beatrice made it through her struggles is inspiring. And, as Forrest Gump said, that’s all I have to say about that.

After the reading, the owner of Aqua Books, Kelly Hughes, asked me if I would consider being a writer-in-residence. Early this week, I accepted. Starting January 2, 2010, I’ll be Aqua Books’ writer-in-residence. I’ll host some events, run some workshops, and I’m hoping to organize an Aboriginal writers’ week. I’m really excited. I’ll also have an office to write in whenever I want. I may not be there too often, but I’ll use it when I can.

Oh, I should mention that I was able to throw in some promotion for 7 Generations at the reading. we gave away a ton of posters. And left a bunch for Kelly, too.

Tonight I did a Meet & Greet at Chapters Polo Festival.  I think it was a slow book night, being a Tuesday. So, I didn’t get much traffic. I think we did sell around 8 or 9 copies, though. so that’s not too bad. And after visiting with Portage and Main staffers today, I know the book is starting to catch on and it’s being bought more and more. So that’s great news. They asked me to come back and do another one of these Meet & Greets on a busier day, so I’ll probably do another.

Tonight, though, I found out why I’m doing this. Or at least, one of the reasons. And I mean, when I say “doing this”, writing books on Aboriginal history. A man came up to me at the Meet & Greet, and was completely racist. And in an apologetic way…like “sorry if that offends you”…some excerpts from his meandering, ignorant talk:

*after reading a part in the book where a man kneeling at Betty’s memorial hears footsteps and feels that Betty is there with him*

“I guess that’s part of your culture?” He asked.

“What?”

“If we here footsteps we go to jail,” he said.

“Go to jail?” I asked. “WE meaning whom?”

“You know, the people who built this building.”

“Who built this building?” I asked.

“White people. If white people like me hear footsteps…we’ll go to jail.”

“I don’t think…”

“Not Headingly, because that’s where you people go…we’d go to Selkirk.”

“The mental institution?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“Ummm….I don’t think that’s entirely true actually.” I said.

“It is true. We’d go to jail.”

“This is probably where you just came from.” I think.

And then, somehow, he likened Aboriginal people to monkeys. And I’m not even sure how he did this, and I can’t for the life of me remember. And he said, “yeah the lady I told that to was so offended.”

“Because it IS offensive,” I said.

“Well I don’t mean to be going there, but I just think we need to get humour sometimes.”

The rest of this part is a blur. But I alternately wanted to punch him, and pity him, for being so unbelievably, comically, racist. And he really just stood there and talked like I was okay with it. And one time he was talking about (don’t ask) how people in World War II who didn’t go to war defected to the United States…ummm…

“Defected,” he repeated. “Do you know what that means?” He asked like I was some little child.

“Yes, I know what that means.” I said.

And the end of our conversation:

“You know, my grandfather was in a mental institution. And my Uncle knew these secrets he had. They put this medication in his mouth so he would sleep 22 hours a day.”

“Oh really? Secrets…like what?”

“He’s dead now.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, he got into a car accident and it severed his hands off.” He said. “Like her.”

“Like whom? Betty Osborne?”

“Yeah, they cut off her hands so nobody could identify her.”

“Ummm….no they didn’t.”

And finally, friends came and saved me from listening to more. It was…so indescribably offensive, weird, and painful.

And that, my friends, is a long overdue update.

Book 3: Ends, Begins – Inspiration for a Title

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

I was sitting in bed the other evening, wondering how I would link the title of Book 3 into the content of Book 3. One of the things I had to do for promotion, was think of the titles right away. So I did. And I can make them all work but, until the weekend, Book 3. It hit me late at night, and I wrote a poem that I’m pretty sure I’ll incorporate into Book 3. Now, Book 3 is about the Residential School system. So, here is the poem.

Ends, Begins

If we were ever lost, then found,
Then brought away to bricks and hate,
And underneath the bricks, now drowned,
Now left to surface, tied to weights,

To you the skin to hurt, then heal,
Then bleach away the savage tint,
Savage, yet, our flesh to steal,
To marvel at your glory’s glint,

Glory, sentenced death, then life
Then buried under white, and left,
And forgotten there but given strife,
Given nothing but an empty breath,

Empty ’til the numb, now pain,
Now Drain us of the living rush,
Living but we are abstained,
Abstained and broken by the touch,

We see the way it ends, begins,
Ends among the stolen ones,
Stolen though reclaimed again,
Reclaimed but somehow still undone.

Book 2: Scars – First Draft Complete

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

On the weekend I finished the first draft for Book 2: Scars. I was instantly happy with it, although a few parts did bug me and I formulated how I wanted to address them. By Tuesday, I’d fixed them all up and I’m really excited about it. There are a few differences with it and Book 1, and some of that has come from learning how Scott and I work together and what Scott can do and how he works.

I learned to let go of writing every single detail of every single item on each panel. I realize that Scott’s vision is similar to mine, in how we see the panels working, angles of shots in panels, etc. And with the second book, we’ll be able to get together and work out those fine points together. It also allowed me to concentrate more on the story, the dialogue and the captions, and I think this was only a positive thing.

I’ve also learned to let the art do the talking where possible. Seeing Scott’s work, how powerfully he’s been able to translate the story into art, I know that “saying it” almost becomes redundant at times. This has worked well with Book 1, as well. As new pages come in, I’ve been improving the script as the final lettering gets done. Sometimes this is changing the wording, and sometimes this is cutting out words altogether because the art’s already saying it. It’s been a great experience and the learning curve is shrinking.

There are some parts in Book 2 that will be painfully beautiful. What I mean by that is right now is the part of the story where Edwin has really hit rock bottom. But that’s allowed me to write some pretty amazing scenes that are hard, but necessary and very poetic.

I’ve also seen that I’ve spent more time in the past in Book 2. And this just had to be done. Simply, with 30 pages, you have to tell the whole story. You can’t leave parts out. And so you find a way to do this. And for Book 2, at least, that meant a ratio of probably 22 pages in the 19th century and 8 pages in the present time. Actually, it’s probably more than that. It might be about 25 pages in the past. But the 19th century story is gorgeous, sad but inspiring. I am a little concerned about all the content going through. Meaning, maybe it’s really too difficult. But I had a great, great talk with the editor at High Water Press (Annalee Greenberg – Portage and Main Press is the main publisher, High Water is their trade imprint). The outcome of this talk, for me, was that Annalee said: I’m worrying less about what’s too difficult to get into schools and more about letting the story be the story. I agree, the fact is that there have been some horrible times for our Aboriginal people, and shying away from this would do no justice to what we’ve gone through. There is one scene in Book 2 that is hard and devastating, but it HAS to be in there. Because, simply, it’s what happened. Period.

You cannot sugar coat a story about the Smallpox Epidemic. It was a horrible disease and it ravaged our people through epidemics across a few centuries. But we survived. That’s the point. We survived, and we’re strong.

Right now Book 2 is in with Annalee for review and I’m excited to hear her feedback. I’ll update again once the first review is done on the first draft. But, I’m very happy with it and I think, I hope, not too much will change.

Later!
Dave

Book 2: Scars, coming along well

October 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Just a quick update on Book 2: Scars. I’m working away at the manuscript. As of right now, I’ve written the first 6 pages. I have to say, I’ve written my absolute favourite page out of the 2 books so far to begin the second book. I know Scott can pull off the imagery I’ve described.

This book’s going to be a tough story to write. It’s a painful time in our history, around the time of the smallpox epidemic of 1869-70. The other obstacle is there isn’t a whole lot of history from that epidemic. I have managed to find two very good sources and I’m working off them a bit. The story is heart wrenching but incredible and I am excited to write it despite the difficulties. Can’t wait to end it, too, as I’ve thought of an awesome ending.

So far, I’ve written 4 pages of that time, 1869, and it’s going very well.

Aside from that, I picked up promo posters for the entire series yesterday and they look incredible. We are all so excited for this series, it’s going to be amazing.