ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Antigonish native and St. F.X. graduate Arden Powell is celebrating the release of her first novel with an Oct. 25 event, at the St. F.X. Art Gallery (located in the Bloomfield Centre), she is describing as a “pre-launch.”
“It’s technically a pre-book launch as A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love doesn’t come out until Oct. 29, but the timing was a bit awkward for my trip,” Powell, now living in Toronto, said.
The St. F.X. English Department is hosting the event which gets underway at 7 p.m.
“There will be refreshments and I’ll say a few words — very few, so I can escape the limelight as quickly as possible,” she said as part of a release promoting the event.
“Then a friend is going to give a short reading from the book. It’s traditional for the author to do the reading themselves, but I have a tendency to speak very quickly and I get nervous in front of crowds, no matter how friendly, so I outsourced. I think it’ll work.”
The release also notes that Powell drew on her hometown roots in creating her lead character in the novel, Kris Golding, suggesting that would help bring the character “to life.”
In an email interview with the Casket, Powell was asked if local readers will recognize stand-ins for Antigonish locations.
“Kris’s backstory is only touched on lightly, but I think it’s one that a lot of people who grew up feeling like outsiders in a small town can relate to,” she wrote.
“The story starts only after he’s moved across the country to a big city, but I did drop a few references Antigonish locals might recognize — blink-and-you’ll-miss-it references to boutiques and cafés, that kind of thing.
“I wrote Summer Soundtrack after moving to Toronto and starting a new chapter in my life, so I really wanted to focus on a character going through the same kind of changes, rather than dwelling on the past. I might write a book about small-town life eventually, once the glamour of the big city has worn off. Give me a few more years and I'll get there,” she added, displaying a wit which is part of the novel.
“It’s part coming-out story, part road trip and part making-your-own-family,” Powell said. “It’s mostly a comedy, entirely an adventure and, maybe, a hint of fantasy surrounding that peacock cult, but not enough to bet on.”
The peacock reference is referred to in the short summary of the book.
“The novel deals with Golding joining an internationally-known rock band, The Chokecherries, and a romance brewing between him and the lead singer. Golding also has a highly conservative brother to contend with, a peacock that may or may not be the avatar of a cult god, and a publicity stunt that threatens to upend the band,” the summary, part of the release, reads.
Powell talked about the writing process in responding to the Casket.
“It actually came together very quickly. I had it outlined and drafted in under three months; it was the revisions that took the most time and effort,” she said.
“Maybe if I’d spent longer drafting, then the revisions would have been easier, but maybe not. I added almost 20,000 words during edits, and rewrote the entire middle section. I don’t recommend that, if it can be at all avoided.”
She also wrote about literary influences.
“I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction before throwing in with the romance camp, so my style is heavily influenced by writers like Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams — that specific kind of irreverent, occasionally absurdist humour,” Powell said.
“I even named a chapter ‘Life, the Universe, and Everything’ (that chapter involves a music festival, a few revelations, and a potentially magical peacock named Freddie Mercury). So if my book reads more like a weird cross between Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Mad Max — I'm big on road trips and cults — and less like whatever people tend to think of when they hear ‘romance’ … that's my excuse.”
The book is being published by Riptide Publishing and pre-orders for the book can be done through its website; riptidepublishing.com.
There will also be copies available during the Oct. 25 pre-launch event at St. F.X., which is open to all.