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Author Podcast: Matthew Hooton

abstract:Matthew Hooton was named one of Canada's new literary talents to watch. His first novel is titled, Deloume Road published by Knopf Canada. Matthew's prose captures the Pacific Northwest in a style reminiscent of other favorite regional authors whose work shows a reverence for and understanding of the natural physical world; I'm thinking John Vaillant (The Golden Spruce), Steve Gutterson (Snow Falling on Cedars), with a bit of W.O. Mitchell thrown in for good measure. What these authors' writing share is an understanding of place and character all wrapped up in compelling suspenseful stories with intersecting characters from immigrant, native and First Nations backgrounds whose respective lives connect in touching and sometimes violent ways with each other and to nature. You will recall Vaillant's book dealt with the eco-terrorism of the giant golden spruce destroyed on the Queen Charlottes Island while Gutterson's novel was set on the small American San Juan Island community of Nordic and Japanese immigrants at conflict over a murder trial. Matthew's novel takes place on Vancouver Island on the titular rural road and it involves several families whose lives intersect with escalating levels of suspense and mystery one hot summer.


July 01, 2010

The Podcast

  • PART I: Matthew discusses his novel, the writing process and aspects of identity

  • About the Author

    Matthew Hooton grew up on Vancouver Island where he was raised by a free-thinking school administrator father and registered nurse mother. Able to roam the woods and observe nature first-hand with the rare freedom afforded a secure, carefree childhood, he developed a reverence of and an affinity for recreating his childhood memories. He went on to obtain his BA in writing from the University of Victoria, then travelled to Bath Spa University to take his MA where his thesis, Deloume Road was unanimously awarded the inaugural Greene & Heaton Prize for the best novel to emerge from the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing. As a consequence of that success Matthew has read fiction at the Bath Literature Festival and has lived and worked at four separate intervals in South Korea, variously as a teacher and an editor. He presently lives with his wife, Shawna in Victoria, BC. —Knopf

    Interview Transcript

    BB: Matthew thank you for joining us this morning. What is the weather doing in Victoria?


    BB: Before we begin with my questions, I wonder if I could ask you to read the 3rd paragraph of the opening chapter of your novel, Deloume Road?

    MH: Sure.

    Just over the Malahat pass with the old Bamberton cement works behind you on Highway 1 heading north on Vancouver Island, take a left onto Shawnigan Mill Bay Road. Pass dairy farms, orchards and a cidery; each isolated along the road, as if dropped into massive and seemingly timeless clearings from the sky—no hint that this land was painstakingly carved out of forest by hand, horse and dynamite nearly a century ago. There aren't any towns here, and few businesses to speak of, only roads sparsely littered with houses and the occassional farm shop, all of it a wilderness suburb of the small town of Mill Bay. Five miles or so of this, then on your left Deloume Road begins at the top of the hill.

    BB: Matt whenever I pick up a new book by an author I’m not acquainted with, the first thing I do is read the first few paragraphs of the first chapter. When I read yours, I knew I was in for a treat. In my review [the first review quoted on the Random House and and .com websites] I compare your writing to John Vaillant’s in its capacity to capture a sense of reverence for the natural beauty of the Pacific North West. Where did this acuity and respect come from? Tell us about your childhood growing up on Vancouver Island?


    BB: In your novel Gerard Deloume is the titular figure who is somewhat tragic, somewhat etherial. He’s a kind of pioneer from the mid-1800’s who came to the area to survey for the Royal Geographical Society. Did he really exist? Can you give us a little background history?


    BB: The rest of the novel is set on Deloume Road itself, during the first Gulf War with an interesting cast of characters: Matthew, Andy, Josh; then Al Henry, Irene, the Butcher, Miles Ford, Sam Toews and Avril. Let’s give our listeners a little background on them and the threads that tie them together.


    BB: You have used an interesting literary technique for moving the story forward, which is to write short chapters titled by the character who will take over naration of the story – sometimes these chapters are just a paragraph in length, but the effect is to create a delicious, teasing suspense. Is this a style you consciously adapted from the beginning or did write the story from different points of view and then chop parts from each to create the final form?


    BB: Several of the characters are immigrants from different countries (Korea, the Ukraine, Great Britain) from different decades, along with Al Henry the Native Canadian artist with the bush pilot son. What did you want to say about the assimilation of these immigrants in Deloume Road – do you think it’s a a BC story, Canadian story, a universal story?


    BB: the relationship between the two brothers is very touching and well written. Andy is disabled and his brother Matthew. Do you relate to Matthew especially – having given him your own name?

    BB: without giving away the surprise ending, can you talk about how bad things happen to good people… and what effect that has on their lives… Good luck with the promotion of this novel. I look forward to bringing you to Whsitler for our summer reading discussion…



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