Latitude 46 publisher Heather Campbell has announced the release of two new titles: Connection at Newcombe, by Elliot Lake author Kayt Burgess, and The Undertaking of Billy Buffone.
The Undertaking of Billy Buffone is being released Saturday; Connection at Newcombe on April 29.
“When we received Connection at Newcombe by Kayt Burgess, it hit all the marks we were looking for in a historical fiction manuscript," Campbell said. "Kayt had already won the International 3-Day Novel contest and was a finalist for the 2013 ReLit Award for her first novel Heidegger Stairwell. She lives in Northern Ontario and a very talented writer."
Of the second book, Campbell said: “The Undertaking of Billy Buffone was clearly an important story to tell. Although fiction, it speaks to the trauma of holding down secrets for decades but also about healing and redemption.
"(Author) David Giuliano lives in Marathon and the story is set in northwestern Ontario. This is David's debut novel but he has written a memoir and children's book. David is also a talented storyteller.”
Campbell says that as co-founder and owner Latitude 46 she gets many applicants and publishes four to six books every year.
“It is important to have a publishing house based in Northern Ontario to nurture and publish stories and authors from the north … we publish literary fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. It takes between several months to a year to read the submissions and select those that reflect the mandate of the press, the quality of the writing and the author's commitment to promote.”
Of course, the pandemic has affected her business and publishing industry overall.
“Firstly, we are not able to gather for a book launch and signing. These have been important events. We have incorporated virtual launches in the past year and the upside is people who might otherwise not travel to attend, can join in. Sales of the books at launches is challenging since we would have copies on hand for purchase and signing. We need to encourage people to purchase online.”
Giuliano arrived on the north shore of Lake Superior 30-plus years ago. “The town of Marathon was reeling from the revelation that a pedophile had preyed on boys here for 25 years. He was an esteemed citizen — reeve, teacher, scouter. When I arrived as the green United Church minister, a concerted effort was underway to bury the story in a deep grave. The collateral damage, however, moaned in our midst like a ghost.
“In an effort to bring healing, and to acknowledge the survivors still in town, and the ones who had packed up their trauma and gone looking for geographical cures, I tried to write about it. The facts were raw and painful and, in the end, they weren't mine to share.
“So, I turned to fiction. Moved (it) to a fictional town, one like our town.” This is Giuliano’s first book of creative writing. His earlier works have been mostly about spirituality and social justice.
In this story, characters wrestle with topics Giuliano is familiar with: “spiritual questions like murder, suicide, sacrificial love, healing, mercy, forgiveness, loneliness and community.”
He acknowledges that he likes to write and is surprised by the passing of time when he finishes for the morning.
Kayt Burgess as a veteran writer has an unswerving rigour to her schedule.
“When I’m in the thick of drafting a book I have a solid routine. This usually consists of an extended writing time of three to four hours after breakfast and sometimes another bout in the evening. Before the pandemic, I’d go to a café or a shared workspace to write. Last summer I often worked at a picnic table at a public park. I’ll probably do that again this year, depending on county restrictions.”
Where did her newest venture come from? “This book began 10 years ago as part of a three-day novella contest. I won that contest and the book was meant to be published years ago, but that never came to fruition.
"I moved overseas to do my PhD in the interim and let the book sit on my hard drive while I worked on other manuscripts. When I returned to Canada, to Northern Ontario, I made contact with Latitude 46 Publishing and we decided to publish together.”
Connection at Newcombe is a work of fiction.
“The story is about two soldiers who return home after the Great War and try to help their small town’s prospects by tricking the CNR to expand the rail system through their community. In order to do this, they have to lie and manufacture a massive illusion with the help of everyone in town.
"But some citizens are against the scam, some fear repercussions, some are afraid of change in general, and some have deep-seated grudges that put them at odds with the rest of the town. The book recounts this story through the viewpoints of multiple characters – how they help, how they hinder, and what they think and feel about their community.”
Asked if it's a touch nostalgic, Burgess responds that it may have that flavour for some, “Because of the time period in which the book is set, but it’s not especially romanticized.”
Are her characters reflective of people she has met or are they imagined? “All my characters are composites: I never steal people from real life and just drop them in my fiction. If I were that kind of writer, I imagine it would be hard on my family and friends. So every character is a product of imagination mixed with characteristics I’ve observed in real life, as well as inspiration from other books and media I’ve consumed.
“I love meeting and getting to know new characters, developing their journeys and putting them on collision courses. More generally, I’m a compulsive creator. Everything I do – whether it’s writing or music, cooking or tidying a bookshelf – automatically becomes a creative experience. It’s a compulsion. So if I’m not writing I’m doing something else creative.”
Latitude 46 Publishing will release Marathon author David Giuliano's debut novel The Undertaking of Billy Buffone 5 p.m. April 17 on Facebook Live during a virtual launch.
The second novel by Elliot Lake author Kayt Burgess entitled Connection at Newcombe will be launched 7 p.m. April 29, also on Facebook Live.
The two books can be purchased online at www.latitude46publishing, www.alllitup.ca, Indigo (curbside or online) or by asking your favourite bookseller to order.
The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.
Hugh Kruzel Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star