Catching up

Mahone BayWow! It just occurred to me how long it’s been since I updated this site. Time flies… Spring came and went. Summer languished hot and long, and Autumn didn’t let me down: it’s my favourite of the four seasons. So where have I been? After the commercial launch of Hermit of Carmel, I bought an old home in the seaside town of Mahone Bay, in Nova Scotia. Some magazine or another named it one of Canada’s Top 10 Prettiest Towns – and for good reason. I’m not directly on the ocean but can see it from my front porch – if I lean out and look to the left. It will be my summer home and perhaps the place I’ll hang my wrinkled bucket hat when I retire.

My second novel, Oak, has been completed and is in the editing process now. After that comes cover design, interior typography and typesetting. Can’t say, at this point in time, when it will see commercial release, but will follow up when confirmed. Let’s say you’ll be able to buy a copy in 2020, to be safe.

But back to the old house (circa 1880) that I purchased. It was a wreck, and I’ve spent the better part of six months now gutting and restoring it. I love this kind of stuff but had forgotten how physically demanding it is. I was 30 when I last bought an old home in need of complete renovation. That was a few years ago and everything seems to be just that much more harder now. But this place has good bones, as they say. The plaster walls include horse hair as a binder, and the outside of the original part of the house was sheathed in birch bark – just as they built homes 100 years ago. After removing pink carpeting, two layers of vinyl flooring and several coats of paint, the original, wide-plank wood (some pine and some hemlock) have been uncovered and, though well-worn, frame the place beautifully and proudly embrace their heritage. The eight-inch baseboards and gorgeous cherry stair railing were among some of the nicer elements that survived so many previous renovations, and enhance the home.

I often look around the place and wonder about the generations of people and families who called this old house their home at one point. I imagine kids bounding down the curved staircase on Christmas morning, to tear open gifts at the base of the holiday tree. And I envision the dozens of feet stepping across the wood floors day after day, giving them their character lines and tell-tale scars. I couldn’t help but feel a slight bit of guilt tearing down the worn and smoky, flowered wallpaper that adorned every single room – knowing that someone chose that after much deliberation and pasted it up with pride. I’m certain the decor was, at another time, magnificent. Wallpaper is back “in” and I’m sure some will grace the walls once again.

I’m out from under the greater part of renovation and look forward to many years enjoying the place and the delightful town of Mahone Bay. The long Canadian winter provides time, now, to get back to writing the next novel. I’ve been reviewing several outlines (treatments, they’re often called) developed more than a year ago and need to settle on one. Someone close to me encouraged me to develop a follow-up to Hermit, and I know that fiction series are in high demand among publishers these days. But I’m not sure I’m feeling it. Perhaps a trip back to Carmel-by-the-Sea – my other favourite seaside town – is in order.  Perhaps I’ll tromp the Carmel Woods once again and channel Robert Das’ emotional pain and eventual catharsis once more.

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