I started writing Night Town about 7 years ago. Yeah I know, yikes! that’s a long time. That’s because I needed to eat, this is my first novel and I had a lot of mistakes to make and learning to do. Night Town is particularly important to me and I want it to be as good as I can possibly make it.
Why so important? Because like many other first time novelists, it is loosely based on autobiography. In particular, how my mother’s unexpected and untimely death impacted me when I was 13. That singular event has shaped my life and changed many others as well.
However I do not talk to their experience as I feel that would be an abhorrent thing to do. Is it popular these days? Yes. Is it right? To my mind no. Who am I to suppose another person’s thought process? Hence any and all other players are all purely fictional.
Toronto was an amazing city to me back then, all of 15. I’d never experienced anything like it. Most citizens called it ‘Toronto the Good.’ Well, it wasn’t. It was downright dangerous, but it was also exciting and remains largely unknown.
Ironically in the world of fiction (with the exception of Atwood’s early novels and In the Skin of the Lion by Ondaatje) Toronto has never really been featured. Never mind turned upside down to become a significant character.
Night Town aims to change that. It’s a document of a largely unknown city during the 1970s.
There were more sex clubs than nearly anywhere else in the world (now that porn has gone online Toronto is near the top in that as well.)
Drugs were a snap to attain. Yorkville, Rochdale and of course the corner of Yonge and Dundas were hotspots where you could peddle your wares or buy anything your heart desired.
On the heels of the Stonewall Riots in New York City, Toronto’s gay scene began boiling over. Until then, queers had congregated in strange rental spaces, out of the way spots, where the police couldn’t find them, arrest them and beat them. They were understandably afraid. The 1970s marks the beginning of the end of the fear and shame. The notion of being proud to be gay was gaining traction and we haven’t looked back since.
So Night Town is a love letter to my hometown, a city I’ve seen change so rapidly during my lifetime.
Over and out C