RAILWAY NOVEL: News on Last Spike Day
It was 129 years ago on November 7 1885 that Canadian Pacific Railway director Donald A. Smith (later Lord Strathcona) whacked the final spike of the transcontinental road.
It linked Canada from Atlantic to Pacific, from sea to shining sea, and dreams of a great nation abounded. Since then, the railway has become an enduring symbol of national aspirations.
I think it's the right day for me to announce that last week, on October 31, 2014, Arsenal Pulp Press of Vancouver, B.C. undertook to publish my first novel for adults, to be released in the autumn of 2015 in both Canada and the United States.
The story explores the Chinese workers who helped build the CPR in the 1880s. The hero is Yang Hok, who labors on the railway, quits it, and is about to go home to China when a mission takes him up the Fraser Canyon along the newly-laid tracks. He meets workers too poor and too ashamed to return to China, First Nations people who see the train bringing in more settlers, plus anti-Chinese, anti-Aboriginal racism.
The working title for the book is "The Superior Man" but that could change. In my experience, publishers and marketing people always come up with better titles.
I quit my fulltime job back in 1997, planning to write fiction for adults. I didn't know how daunting it would be. I went on to have five or six spectacular failures and, at one point, grimly resolved to stick to writing books for young readers.
But I couldn't let go. To write a novel for adults was what I wanted more than anything.
More work lies ahead, as the editing with Arsenal Pulp Press hasn't started yet.
I'm happy to blog here to keep readers informed on how this project, and others, will move along.
Toronto houses a dramatic monument that honors Chinese railway workers. The life-size installation is on Blue Jays Way just south of Front Street. Here are some recent images.
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