U.S. born, Canadian novelist Chuck Waldron is currently working on his fourth novel, a thriller about an investigative blogger who uncovers more than he ever imagines…and has no idea what to do with his discovery.
His first novel, Tears in the Dust, is a mystery set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War in 1937. When Alestair Ferguson volunteers to fight in the International Brigade he doesn’t realize the true price he will have to pay. Chuck’s second novel, Remington and the Mysterious Fedora, is a quirky fantasy, a story about what happens when a young man sits at the keyboard of a manual typewriter and puts on an old fedora. When the fedora and its mysterious power begins to whisper a story to him, the young man has a strange adventure indeed. His third novel, Served Cold, spans decades and stretches from the countryside of rural Ontario to a quiet artists’ studio in Tucson, Arizona. With lots of murder and mayhem in between, the story is what happens when a long-standing feud erupts into hot-blooded vengeance.
Chuck wrote over thirty short stories before setting out to write novels that are affordable and entertaining. He has attended writing workshops in Iowa, Florida, Georgia and Ontario, Canada.
“I grew up,” Chuck said, “listening to my grandfather, an Ozark Mountain story teller, spinning tales of the caves on his farm, describing them as hiding places once used by the Jesse & Frank James’ gang. It didn’t matter if the stories were true or not. Those legends set fire to my imagination, creating images that emerged slowly over the years, finally igniting as my short stories and novels.”
Now, thirty-plus short stories and three novels later, ideas keep coming, with more novels under development. Do they share anything in common? Each has its own unique voice and tale to tell, yet, at their heart, his stories tell about the human condition – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Chuck adds, “stored images that echo in my writing include train whistles in the night, Norman Rockwell childhood scenes, U.S. Army memories, blue collar jobs, university, a professonal career, and finally retirement. Many of my images are drawn from this pool of memories: places visited, sights seen, and people met. The rest I filled in with my imagination: dreams of places yet to be visited, sights yet to be seen, and people yet to be met.”
His literary roots were planted in the American Midwest and thrived when transplanted – over thirty-nine years ago – to the rich, cultural soil of Ontario. He and his wife, Suzanne, spend their summers in Kitchener, Ontario and are warmed by a winter sun in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
I was asked how I came up with the idea for Remington & the Mysterious Fedora, a quirky story that turned out to be one of my favorites. The seed for the idea was planted during a conversation. Someone said they had never seen a typewriter. It occurred to me that in the blink of history’s eye the ubiquitous typewriter was consigned to antique stores and old junk shops. How did that happen without my noticing? The only trace typewriters left behind is the QWERTY keyboard on computers.
In Remington and the Mysterious Fedora the back room of a strange used goods store is a place where Josh finds an old Remington typewriter and a fedora with some mysterious powers. As Josh embarks on his first novel-writing adventure, he find that his new hat has its own story to tell – of a time before history began – and it is quite demanding of Josh’s attention. As the story consumes him, Josh’s life begins to unravel, and he soon finds he is unable to separate himself from the hat and the story. That may, or may not, be a good thing.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Josh is a bright young man. He has a slight problem. It’s easy for him to begin projects but he often has a hard time sustaining them. His curiosity about a typewriter he finds and the strange powers of an old fedora lead him to think he will write his first novel. He finds himself in a bit of a jam when caught between two women wanting his attention.
There is a story within the story, which means another set of characters. The main character is a woman in a time before history, when names are a reflection of their job within the tribe or group. She uses all of her skills to survive. As her story opens she is running for her life. She is pregnant and possibly carrying a child with a unique destiny.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
The character of Josh is loosely based on a real person, but otherwise my characters are all figments of my imagination.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
As the story opened I had an idea of what the main character, Josh, was like. I had a vision of how he might talk, walk and act. Once he walked through the door of the second-hand store in the opening chapter his character took over, however, and led me on a journey of discovery. As the writer I simply tried to keep up.
Q: Your book is set in a small city in Ontario, Canada. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
The city was only a device in my own mind. The location didn’t matter. My home is Kitchener, Ontario and while the setting played through my mind as I wrote the story, location wasn’t important. It could have been any city.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
In this story the setting didn’t matter. In my other two novels setting was extremely important.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
Josh is waiting for his girlfriend to come home and tell her about the amazing fedora and typewriter.
“The apartment was far from soundproof and Josh often listened to the neighbors having one of their infamous fights. It was a reminder that any yelling between him and Kelsey didn’t go unnoticed. When he heard the soft ‘bing’ of the elevator he looked at his wristwatch and couldn’t wait to tell Kelsey about his discovery about Remington and the hat.”
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
The following excerpt is from the story about a woman named Blaze. The fedora whispers her story to Josh while he wears the fedora and types on Remington.
“Listen closely, child.” His words were faint. “Someone has to know the secrets of the stars. Just like you needed to know the secret of fire. Everyone thinks you have some kind of magic when it comes to fire. They think the same of me and how I can look at the stars and say turn this way or that. They expect me to point the way and tell them how long it will take us to get where we must go.”
Blaze knew what he meant and remained silent.
“I have decided, Fire Starter. I have decided to pass along the star secrets to you. But, you have to promise me something.”
She nodded and whispered a quiet, “yes, I promise. I know what you’re asking, without the telling. I know how dangerous it is for both of us, sharing this knowledge.”
That began the strange relationship between the man who could map by the stars and the woman who could make fire for food and warmth.
Thank you so much for this interview, Chuck. We wish you much success!