Saturday, 25 January 2014

 Hello Visitor;

One of the most remarkable things about the beautiful Northwest is how the people intermingle with it. My novel REDEMPTION COVE attempts to capture the quirkiness of this in things like airlock entrances for shaking off the snow, and in particular the uniqueness of some of the buildings.
At some places in the world I've seen, the people seem extrusions of the land, for instance the Pueblo people around Mesa Verde near the Four Corners. In the Northwest I frequently experience people interacting with it in spectacular ways, not least in the case of the wonderful San Juan Islands house I'm spotlighting today.
I met the owner, who I'll Just call Gene to protect his privacy, in the context of one of most intrusive devices known to man; a small bulldozer.He was sealing the bottom of a pond being built on the mountain property of a dear friend. It was obvious that although it pained him to tear open the earth, he was an artist at it, as Gene is an artist at many things.

He was molding the earth around the bones of the mountain, building a place of beauty where wood ducks would breed and the water would give life to a terraced garden. He was adding to the land, not taking away from it.

When I saw his house I was blown away. It started from the drawing at the top left of his dream house, and he had made it reality. First it is huge and constructed around a central pillar; the trunk of an enormous Douglas fir. You can see the strength of it where all the beams join. It molds to the side of a hill as if a metamorphosis of it. 
An ingenious and attractive bridge connects a rear entrance to a hillside. Inside the wood surfaces are lustrous, and there are clean square areas where comfortable living requires that, but no area is less than spectacular. The tasteful art adds, not detracts. But Gene is a genius with steel as well, both engineeringly and artistically. The house intertwines with an ingenious ducting system that carries warmth to from a small wood furnace to every fascinating corner, though the glass and solar clad massive west wall keeps the house comfortable in all but the coldest times. One of the photos is of the work he does with heat and steel plating. Quite beautiful. You can see the effect on the stove as well.

To say there are many northwest homes like this would be false. But there are many cases of enormously artistic people interacting with the Northwest environment to create a rugged and aweing magnificence.

Thanks to Gene for the kind tour, and thank you all for letting me share.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Why We Write

I had planned this week's blog to be about what attracts me to the wild North West, but a post from Publishers Weekly just flat stopped me in my tracks.

Why do we write?

Please allow me to share a poem from my 'Scenes From a Life' collection:

The Bond

We’ve touched each other, you and I: become one.

Not just for now; but for our entire lifetimes and eternity after that.
Thirty years from now we’ll be totally different externally.
We’ll be products of the experiences between now and then, and of time’s molding.
And we’ll be radically different internally.
Dreams will have come and been fulfilled, or been and gone.

Do you know what I’d wish for then?

A love.

Of walking in wild places or among history.
Or with ocean wind and spray on our faces.
Of a loving look across a room.
Of icy glasses of Pinot Gris and low voices by a bright fire, with rain outside driving against kauri-framed windows.

A longing.

For the delicious touch of hands on breasts and throats,
And of fingers in each other's hair.

I hope our love for music will have endured.

I do know we’ll always love books; the way written words caress a thought and make it perfect.

I wish then, for the joy of endlessly rediscovering each other.

That our lives together had been like petals of a flower unfolding -- each more wondrous that the previous.

But whether we’re together or apart at that time, this love we have will live on, secure in those places we’ve dedicated to it within us.

These temples of our souls.

My point is the underlined piece. We strive to make thoughts perfect.
These sentences do that:

My father was right: you could make anybody amazing just by insisting they were.
-”What We Know About the Lost Aztec Children” by Elizabeth McCracken

She thought of a hotel room in Mazatlan whose door had just been slammed, it seemed forever, waking up two hundred birds down in the lobby; a sunrise over the library slope at Cornell University that nobody out on it had seen because the slope faced west; a dry, disconsolate tune from the fourth movement of the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra; a whitewashed bust of Jay Gould that Pierce kept over the bed on a shelf so narrow for it she’d always had the hovering fear it would someday topple on them.
-The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

On heart-broken pretense of entreating a cup of cold water, fiends in human form had got into lonely dwellings, nor retired until a dark deed had been done.
-Benito Cereno by Herman Melville
I sleep with a glass of water on the nightstand so I can see by its level if the coastal earth is trembling or if the shaking is still me.
-”In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel

“I get the idea perfectly, Mickey,” said Archimboldi, thinking all the while that this man was not only irritating but ridiculous, with the particular ridiculousness of self-dramatizers and poor fools convinced they’ve been present at a decisive moment in history, when it’s common knowledge, thought Archimboldi, that history, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness.”
-2666 by Roberto BolaƱo

Best, and Merry Xmas :-


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Hi there Visitor!
Welcome to my blog about the Pacific Northwest.
Let me explain the two pebbles first.
My adventure, crime and legal novel 'REDEMPTION COVE' is set in part in a lakeshore cabin in central British Columbia; along the Yellowhead Highway west of Prince George. It's wild and beautiful country with hundreds of deep lakes stretching east-west, having been gouged by the Laurentide ice sheet as it expanded and contracted during the great ice age.
Like many writers who choose to place their stories in spectacular places I utilized good old Google Earth for my initial research, until I felt only the 'feel' of the place was lacking, then went to visit; with my editor along for the 600 mile ride, soaking up each new mountain vista and glacier valley. Fraser Canyon in the evenings, when the sun strikes the faces and lights them in brilliant gold and red hues that morph moment to moment, puts the capital 'I' in incredible.
Needless to say I arrived at the exact spot I'd chosen for the 'REDEMPTION COVE' cabin setting from a grainy satellite picture: a grassy knoll sloping to the water where waterfowl frolicked, near a small swampy area prickled with bulrushes, and it was exactly as I'd pictured and described.
The moment was surreal.
Not the terrain so much -- as a Seattleite I was used to the wooded plateaus of the Cascades, and as an Issaquah resident to living beside lakes, but the sheer presence of the place was jaw-slumping.
My lead character when he was a city-living 13 year old boy had been awestruck there by seeing Moose tracks. I looked down, and saw Moose tracks all around me in the soft ground of the grassy knoll. So I walked down to the shore and waded out, and picked up those two pebbles and carried them home and have them up on a little shelf above me, and they are an inspiration to me, a reminder that writing can actually envelope you in beauty. Because that's what writing is for me, the crystallizing of the vistas in my head.
Anyone else watching have magical experiences with settings? Send me an email using the tool below.
But this blog is also about the quirky things about the Northwest and Canadian culture that I also enjoy so much. Needless to say most of them are due to human folly, such as laws. These gems are courtesy of
·           For instance did you know you can't publish a comic book in Canada that depicts an illegal act? Or that in Calgary, costume shops are specifically banned from selling contact lenses? What's that all about?
·           How about you can't park your car on a street in such a way that it blocks your OWN driveway?
·           And you can't water your lawn if it's raining.
·           Also you can't drive a car that has a 'For Sale' sign in the window, you have to take it down when you're driving, and put it back up when you park.
·           How about you can't pay for a 50 cent item all in pennies?
·           Or that margarine manufacturers can't color it yellow so people don't confuse it with butter.
·           And my personal favorite:
o    When released from a Canadian Federal prison, believe it or not you are entitled to a handgun with bullets, and a horse so you can ride out of town.
Thanks folks. If you would like to read my future posts, please use the buttons to sign up or check me out on my other social media pages.

:- David