Local author, Alix Hawley has released her third book “My Name is a Knife”, the following to her second book, “All True Not a Lie in it”.
Filling in the pages left blank by history, Hawley picks up the story of Daniel Boone, American Pioneer once again, after leaving him in a tense situation in her last novel. This time, she chose tells Boone’s story and imagining of the North American settlers through two narratives, Daniel’s and his wife’s, Rebecca.
“This time I wanted to get more inside the head of Rebecca, and in Daniel’s head once again after he made a mess of the things, he has to decide as he gets older, if he wants to stay with the Shawnee or to go back to the settlers,” Hawley said.
Hawley has taken on the arduous task of writing about a period of time that is mostly documented by white settlers, and not the Shawnee people. Delving into books from the descendents of the American settlers, and of the Shawnee out of the Central Ohio River Valley (which there are not many of) Hawley decided to tell the story through settler eyes because she could not speak accurately about the Shawnee.
“As a white writer, and a descendent of the European settlers of Canada, I wanted to be respectful of the way I represented the Shawnee people. Nothing was left in first person voices of them, everything we have comes through settlers recordings of their life. One thing I really hoped to do was to make their life in the winter town very mundane, people cooking, teenagers shouting and little kids running around. I was hoping to humanize a voice that hast been lost in history,” Hawley said. “So many things are unknown.”
Taking on writing about such famous characters, and a protagonist of the opposite sex, the author had to utilize her observation skills to properly portray the legend of Daniel Boone.
“As women we have a lot of experience observing men, it’s something we have been trained to do in the current cultural climate. I feel like I am as good an observer as anyone in that way. Things I observed about men I applied to him, I thought of the way his mind works, his need for victory and success, to be a good provider and all the pressures most humans feel and the pressure to achieve them.”
The drafting of each book, and chapter leaves Hawley pacing around the room, finding herself constantly changing and rearranging the narratives as she goes through her creative process.
Currently working on another novel, the Kelowna author has been in love with the power of language from a young age, teaching herself to read, with weekly visits to the library and grew up on the rhyming couplets of poets. Her ventures into writing bloomed from her love of short story structure.
“I like the tightness and framework of short stories, how much you can do in this little box is fun. The length of novels give you more freedom to mess around with things.”
There is one unfinished novel sitting in a drawer, complete that weights on the author’s shoulders.
“I slaved over it, but now I can see that it really needs to change. I was too focused on language and I really need to shift my focus on the plot.”
In reading copies of her books Hawley finds herself writing edits in the margins, incurably wishing she had used a different word or phrased a sentence differently.
The author, who was long listed for the ReLit award with the Thistledown Press in 2008, the CBC Short Story Prize, and was long listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize will be at Mosaic Books in Kelowna from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on July 18 to read from her new novel, “My Name is a Knife” and to answer questions.
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