Thursday, April 14, 2011
New Books: Fall From Grace by Wayne Arthurson
By Wayne Arthurson
Author of Fall From Grace
I’ve been answering many questions about my recent release, Fall From
Grace, but probably the most common has been: “Where do you end and where
does your main character Leo Desroches begin?”
I’ve been very polite responding to that question, not only because I’m
Canadian and we’re supposed to be more inclined towards politeness, but
it’s also a valid question. There are many similarities between me, the
writer, and Leo, the main character in Fall From Grace and future novels
in this series.
For one, Leo and I are both journalists. We are also Cree, a type of
Canadian Indian, although in Canada we don’t use the term Indian. It’s
considered derogatory so we just say First Nations or Aboriginal. Leo and
I are also French Canadian, but the difference is that Leo’s father is
French Canadian and his mother is Cree. For me it’s the opposite. Not
that big a difference, I know.
Leo and I both grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases, and that childhood
connection also plays into our aboriginal background. Because these bases
tend to be more homogenous in culture, many of them like a small town
even those located in the middle of a major city, my family put aside or
ignored much of our cultural background, especially the aboriginal side.
So Leo’s initial forays into his aboriginal background echoed mine;
although we both took different routes. In Fall From Grace, Leo meets
Francis, an aboriginal elder. Francis takes Leo under his wing, offering
him opportunities to explore this side of his personal history. Francis
also plays a role in the plot of the mystery, although I’m not going to
give away any spoilers.
My exploration was more individual, beginning about 15 years ago with a
visit to my father’s home town of Norway House, an aboriginal community
about 40 miles north of Lake Winnipeg. And my journey has also been more
of an internal one, with the acceptance that even though I didn’t grow up
in a traditional aboriginal home on a Reserve, my life story is still a
valid Canadian aboriginal story and more common than you think.
So in those ways, Leo and I are similar. But like I say in my interviews
about Fall From Grace, Leo investigates the murder of a prostitute and
because of that, draws the ire of some bad folks who threaten his life in
numerous ways. I have never investigated such a story in my journalism
career. And the oly people I’ve angered are those whose names I spelled
incorrectly. Also, Leo is a degenerate gambler with a serious proclivity towards risk
taking behavior. I’m being very polite here because Leo has a very acute
gambling problem that has resulted in losing his family and forcing him
to live on the street for a number of years. His risk taking behavior has
also surprised many readers; it even surprised me when I was writing the
book. I rarely gamble, save for the buying of the odd lottery ticket. And
my risk taking behavior consists of trying to make a living as a writer
and being a punk rock drummer a number of years ago.
But regardless of Leo’s faults, we are both hopeful people. And I like
Leo, and hope that many others do as well.