Encompassing more than a century and covering the country from sea to sea, Nelson author Anne DeGrace’s new novel was an ambitious project.
DeGrace launches Flying with Amelia (McArthur & Co) at the Nelson Public Library on Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 pm.
“I love Canadian history, and I’m fascinated with how the events in the history books affected regular folks, just living their lives,” DeGrace says. “I’ve played with this idea before, but I wanted to cover a lot of territory, and to offer different personal views through the window of history.”
In Flying with Amelia, the descendents of an Irish immigrant family scatter across the country. From St. John’s Newfoundland to BC and north to the Beaufort Sea, the story weaves the identity of a young Canada.
The breadth and scope of the novel demanded authenticity in terms of voice and cultural nuance, a challenge DeGrace found engaging, and, if occasionally daunting, always exciting.
“Research can be pretty addictive, especially when it puts you in touch with interesting people and their stories. Closest to home were chapters that took place in Ottawa during the FLQ crisis—my hometown—and New Denver, when the Sons of Freedom Doukhobor children were forced to attend school,” she says.
The famous pilot Amelia Earhart serves as a metaphor for courage and hope as she caught the imagination of the world — and the characters in the title chapter — in the 1930s.
“Really, the book is part intergenerational tale, part six-degrees-of-separation, with small-world moments throughout. I hope readers will find a lot they can relate to.”
This is DeGrace’s fourth novel, following Treading Water (2005), last year’s One Book, One Kootenay winner, Wind Tails (2007), and Sounding Line, (2009).
She has co-authored regional photographic books (Ward Creek Press), including the popular Nelson book, now in its third edition. She has illustrated several children’s books for Polestar Press, Bluefield books, and Polestar Calendars.