Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Guest Post: Madeleine McLaughlin


Growing up in a small city, I was always interested in places smaller. What did people find to amuse themselves in towns where there was only one cafe? That led me to my main character's interest in his community jail. And also his love of his father. I think we have all heard about how everyone in small places knows one another. People must really need to be tolerant of others and accept those who wouldn't have a place in a bigger place simply because they don't need them. Up north, they need each other to help survive the winter months.

Kevin's relationship to Lorne and Chester is not like that of a big city where bums are set apart and ridiculed. He talks to them as equals and also listens to them.

I based my fictional town on Stewart, BC. Before personal computers and the internet, I used to be fascinated by maps and the places on them. This is where I found Stewart, BC, a little town right across the border from Hyder, Alaska. It's isolation fascinated me. What must people do in an emergency? They must have to take matters into their own hands or wait for a plane to fly in and rescue whoever needs it. In my fictional town the people gather and look into things themselves.

I liked the fact that Stewart was cut off and imagined a town even more cut off, without the town of Hyder right across the border. I put my town right in the mountains, in the midst of them for more isolation. I wanted no RCMP to come to the rescue. I wanted my characters to work out for themselves what they would do. I give you here an excerpt to get a flavor of the story:
I tap my head and wonder how could jail have been so much fun when I was a child? Back then, I remember noticing only good things behind the solid stone walls where my dad worked. Those idyllic times in our small North BC community shine with magic in my mind. Not like the vast, evil prisons I visit in the metropolises I now live in. Following Dad's path into prison guarding, I still learn from experience how criminals take advantage of each other's inadequacies and how much violence resounds through the walls.
Yet I'll never forget those years I spent with my dad in his jail, having a ball. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the cool stone walls against my hands...
The jail was a great refuge in June, but even in the winter, I found it pleasant to play in. There was so much fun imagining the structure when it was full, back in the gold rush. I could almost hear the walls and floors resounding to the voices of the thousands of lawless men that lived back then. In the large, empty vastness of our jail, I loved pretending I needed to find escape routes.
One day after tromping through the halls for an hour, I found a locked door.
Why is it shut tight? What is behind that door?

Madeleine McLaughlin


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6 comments:

Karen Cote said...

What a great excerpt! Loved it Madeleine! Also love seeing your pic and I noticed that you cut your hair! Looks lovely. I grew up on a farm and although it wasn't isolated like your town is, I can certainly relate to a similar feeling. Thank you for sharing and great cliffhanger.

Penny's Tales said...

Great post Madeleine - the book sounds great and what a cover!!!
Congrats!

Penny Estelle

Teresa Reasor said...

I enjoyed the excerpt very much. And I too have always wondered what you do when you're 50 miles away from the nearest hospital. Setting your story where you have is a really interesting idea.
Teresa R.

Calisa Rhose said...

Great excerpt Madeleine. I grew up in the middle of nowhere for a lot of my childhood and loved the solitude so much I crave it today as an adult. :) Being a writer is my perfect occupation. lol

As Karen said- your pic is lovely!

Miriam Newman said...

Interesting premise and excerpt, Madeleine. I wonder how many of us who become writers have a natural craving for solitude? That certainly describes me. And what IS behind that door, anyway?

JM said...

Fascinating. I was a jailer for about five years in Ohio, but we never had the problem of being empty. We were always overloaded. And busy.
It's interesting that you looked at it from a good, curious, child's standpoint. I have to check this out.
Great post!