Something I've gotten a bit of flack about are how plain my character names are in the Milligan Creek series. One reason I chose to go that direction is because I wanted the names to reflect the milieu in which I grew up, where names were, well, plain. I mean, Kevin Miller. Do you have any idea how many of us there are in the world? To prove the point, on three occasions, I have been flagged by the police and US Homeland Security due to the nefarious actions of other Kevin Millers who happen to have the same birthdate as me. Yeesh. And no, for the last time, I have never been arrested in New Mexico!
Anyway, starting with Henrietta Blunt, and then continuing to Fiona Pickleberrybush, I decided to go in a more creative direction with names. Which leads me to the antagonist for book four in the series, The Great Grain Elevator Incident, which I am about to start writing (once I get issue 3 of Meth: The Immortal out of the way). I'm a big fan of NFL football, and I've often said sports is one of the best places to find unique names. Sure enough, in a serendipitous moment last week, I was watching a game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs when I noticed the Chiefs' place kicker's last name: Butker. Just as I was thinking about how that would be an unfortunate name to grow up with, I noticed Baltimore's place kicker is named Justin Tucker. Suddenly, I put the two names together in my head: Tucker Butker. What a great name for a bad guy! Suddenly, all sorts of story possibilities opened up in my mind.
Once again, as a writer, you never know when or where inspiration will strike, so keep your eyes and ears open!
As I've noted previously on this blog, The Water War was inspired in part by a game of Assassin that took place in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, in 1984 or 1985. The organizers were Rick and Glenn Larson, two college students looking to liven things up while at home for the summer. I dedicated the book in part to them and tried to track them down, to no avail. However, all that changed this morning.
Hot cup of coffee in hand, I turned on my computer and found an email from Rick and Glenn's younger sister, Coreen, who happens to work at CBC Radio in Regina. She had seen a press release I sent out about the book and reached out to me with a brief note and the photo below. So great to finally make a connection with the family and know that, within a couple of weeks, the guys will have a chance to read the novel they helped inspire.
So glad to see this story run, seeing as The Water War was inspired in large part by n article I read in the The Yorkton Enterprise newspaper way back in 1984. You can read story here.
I just received this email from a school librarian in Saskatchewan, located fairly close to where I grew up.
I was so excited to read your email and to find out the third book in your series is finally available! I have had students read and re-read the first two books, and at least one student a week has asked about the third in the series.
I'm scheduled to hit the road again at the end of January, staring in Saskatchewan. If you're interested in bringing me to your school, use the contact page on this website to reach me.
Now that The Water War has gone out into the world, I'll be spending the next several months marketing it, conducting writing workshops at various schools and conferences across Western Canada, and otherwise getting the word out.
Meanwhile, I'm also hard at work on book 4, The Great Grain Elevator Incident. Think of it as my homage to a disappearing way of life. Here's a brief synopsis:
When Milligan Creek’s iconic grain elevators are slated for
I've already outlined the book and am now doing research in preparation for writing. I anticipate having it ready to release by late summer or early fall 2019. As part of my research, I came across this short video of grain elevator demolitions, which I thought fellow prairie people might enjoy.
You've no doubt heard about "back of the envelope ideas." Well, that's exactly how the cover concept for The Water War came about. This past August, I was in an airport somewhere in the American Midwest in production on my latest documentary when I decided it was time to get Kierston going on the cover. So, as my son and I were eating lunch, I quickly sketched up the following.
I sent it off to Kierston, along with a brief description of the scene, and she was off to the races. Her ability to interpret such horrid drawings is just one of the many reasons I enjoy working with her so much.
To see more of her work, check out her website. To see the finished version of the cover, visit my store--and pre-order a copy!
Brief thoughts and updates on writing, publishing, and life