Welcome back to the second winter event of our anticipated 20th season! More than one hundred and thirty members of the Author Series community logged on to support the Grimsby Library as we greeted the eloquent Mary Lawson and Robert Rotenberg. This evening our roots remained in Ontario as our guests painted the picture of a mysterious life in the north and a series of murders in Toronto. While one author brings us to the past, the other observes the present to anticipate the thought-provoking headlines to come. We are delighted to be joined by Mary Lawson, author of A Town Called Solace and Robert Rotenberg, author of Downfall.
Mary Lawson joined us just after midnight from England for our 7 p.m. stream in Grimsby (thanks for staying up late with us!). With her first twenty-two years in Northern Ontario, Lawson calls herself a Canadian to this day, “it is home, it is what formed me,” she says. In her recently released novel, A Town Called Solace, we are transported back in time to how Lawson herself recalls the north. “I just hate research,” she laughs, “I stick to what I know.” The book is set in 1972 and opens by introducing the readers to Clara, a young girl who is set on looking after her neighbour’s cat, Moses. However, after no sign of Mrs. Orchard’s return, young Clara sees the mysterious Liam Kane, Elizabeth Orchard’s former young neighbour moving into the house. But what does this mean for Clara as she adamantly watches out the window, looking at the neighbour’s home but longing for the return of her missing sister, Rose?
If you travel to any small town in Northern Ontario, one may come across a handful of Lawson’s eclectic characters from her new novel. With humble brilliance, Mary Lawson captures the inner light of every character, all having abundantly detailed lives beyond their introduction. “The minor [characters] evolve, just as the main ones do, and taking it sentence at a time, you learn a lot about each one,” she reveals. Lawson’s sister is a therapist and her brother still lives in northern Ontario, both acting as a lifeline of inspiration to fully form the individuals that live within her pages. Previous to COVID-19, Mary was able to visit often and now uses her novels as a means to come back to Canada and return home. She sums up what it means to belong somewhere, saying, “The things you pick up before you know who you are form you, much in the way the people you grow up with and the landscape you grow up in.”
Robert Rotenberg is the author of a fleet of crime-based novels. In his new novel, Downfall, head of homicide Ari Greene returns to investigate a series of murders involving the homeless population of Toronto at the Humber River Golf Course. A pattern woven throughout Rotenberg’s books is his clarity while capturing the diversity, social issues and the rhythm of living and working in Toronto. When he sits with his publisher the question is, “What will happen in the next two years and what will people identify with?” From these moments Rotenberg has assembled a chronological timeline of the city through his novels. This signature feature in his writing meticulously reveals the rapidly changing landscape of a city like Toronto while bringing contemporary controversies to light.
By day, Rotenberg is a criminal lawyer where he has a front row seat to human emotion. When practicing law, he must understand his clients and in the pages of his book he illuminates this perception through his characters. Rotenberg focuses on character, action, setting and voice to activate the momentum of his fiction. When finishing the first draft of the manuscript for Downfall, he went on the early morning coffee runs to put himself into the day-to-day events he creates to establish a deeper connection to his character’s actions. Robert Rotenberg believes in good writing, no matter the form it appears in. He is currently working on another novel.
Thank you to our authors for joining the Grimsby Author Series this evening. We are elated to have you on our screens from beyond the lake and across the pond. A deep thank you goes out to our sponsors tonight at Good Earth Food & Wine Co., Objects to Desire and Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. For copies of A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson and Downfall by Robert Rotenberg, see our fabulous Epic Books of Hamilton. Our next event of the season will take place on Monday, May 31 at 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale now!