WIND OVER MARSHDALE came about in ‘spurts’. I started writing this story simultaneously with several other novels - at one point I was writing five different books at one time. Perhaps this one went through the most changes, and certainly was ‘shelved’ more often than the others. Three of those five went on to get published, and it was then that I could concentrate on making the final revisions to what I felt was my most poignant and perhaps controversial work yet.
The book does contain what some might consider ‘touchy’ subject matter; racism and spiritual warfare, among others. Racism is never pretty, but I’ve tried to portray it in an honest way. No matter how much we want to believe racial prejudice is dead, it is unfortunately very much alive. In WIND OVER MARSHDALE, a Cree man and his family move to a small prairie town. It is, in fact, the place of their ancestors, but despite modern sensibilities, many of the ‘white’ population can’t see past their own stereotypes. Added to the mix is a family of Chinese ancestry, whose ancestors arrived before many of the European pioneers, yet they too are still seen as ‘foreigners’.
Another potential hotbed of discussion is the inclusion of various spiritual belief systems. The hero is caught between his Christian beliefs and the strong pull of his ancestral heritage as a Cree medicine man. There are many different views about where native spirituality fits into modern life, especially that of a practicing Christian, and the book does not try to address the issue in terms of what is ‘right and wrong’. Instead I focus on the individual struggles faced by the characters and let readers come to their own conclusions on the matter.
The pastor of the church also struggles with hidden addictions that eventually bring him to ruin. I wanted to show the frailty and humanity of even the most ‘upstanding’ and seemingly religious individual, highlighting the fact that, “man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart”.
I find that I often like my current release best, and in this case, it’s true. This book is another complex look into the difference between the outward and the inner man. I had a lot of fun writing it since it includes so many interesting characters and situations. The town drunk, an aging gossip, a sexy cowboy, psychotic twins, a love triangle, the occult … this book has a bit of everything. The setting is based on my own hometown of Mossbank, and although the landscape and even some of the history are authentic, the characters are either from my imagination or a compilation of interesting people I’ve met in my travels around the small town
This article originally appeared on the Astraea Press blog and is will also featured in the Wordsmith Journal later this year.