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@Alex. haha. There are also actual words from Edouard from interviews, things he did or said, the scenery research, places and times and events, the family history, people he was related to and their histories, the fight,... it goes on and on. So lots of fact!
It was really a wonderful experience learning all that I did. Everyone around him was also fascinating. I tried to work in the non-fiction as seemlessly as possible, and I hope it worked. In a natural sort of way. The fiction comes in with imagining his feelings, specific scenes, that sort of thing. And of course, the narrator.
For anyone wondering...there's actually a Willowbunch museum with a statue of Edouard Beaupre - I love that and will definitely plan to visit now that I've read the book! :)
One of the interviews I read was with a lady from Sask. who said she had not heard of the Willow Bunch Giant (nor have i before this).
I will also add that it must be strange for his relatives that I know all sorts of minutia, like where all the graves are, the family tree, minor details, who was with him at the Fair, who baptized him, that his mother named herself "Godmother" how he slept, and so on...
Your portrayal of Edouard was so believable - I really cottoned onto his character and felt a rush of different emotions as I read from sadness to anger to love. Yes, you made him seem crush-worthy! Lol.
@ Alex: Yes!
I was interested in discussing one of my previous questions from way back at the beginning that immediately popped out when I first discovered the book:
How did you balance writing about the myth of the Willow Bunch Giant and the reality of Edouard Beaupre?
I should clarify: My husband is from Regina and huge Sask history buff so he was the one keen to visit Willow Bunch...I thought he was out of his mind...I am now totally gungho to discover the town! :)
@ Kaitlin: There is always a rift between the myth and the man! The giant was so constructed, you know. Even that changed. Legends about his rescuing people and changing from "The World's Tallest Indian" to a Quebecois to how heavy the horses were he lifted - it's interesting that his legend was not just exploitative, it was inspiring to a lot of people. The best of what we can be in some ways. The man of course interested me much more, and I hope the emphasis is there!
I felt the same way as Alex. I love a book with amazing character development, and despite the pocket size of this book, you managed to create a character that was so compelling, and like Alex, made me feel a huge range of emotions. I really enjoyed it!
@ Alex: That means alot. And oh, totally crush-worthy!
@ kaitlin: but to answer that a little better, balancing was difficult. I did not want to judge the legend, to maybe peer into it and explore what that was about - the attraction and repulsion factor - but I hoped to tip the balance in favour of a much more personal vision, and let the reader imagine his point of view!
@ jrose: again, with gratitude, I say how wonderful that you engaged so throughly!
@Sarah I definitely think you did an excellent job of showing Edouard as a person instead of only one-dimensional Willow Bunch Giant!
Also, I love the pocket size - I can thank Coteau Books for that. I highly encourage the book as anti-sacred cow: write in it, carry it around, bang it up, get into it - sort of philosophy. It was not an ironic statement, but it works for a lot of reasons. Booksellers are divided.
Interesting to hear that his story was inspiring and also that he wasn't simply regarded as a circus freak. I agree with Kaitlin, I think your book really balanced exploring both the relationship between Edouard's body and the life he lived.
I really loved the pocket size. Books in general are filled with so many unique ideas, yet in packaging, they're all so uniform. It's so refreshing to see something that stands out visually!
The book's size is almost alarming -- especially since it is a book about a giant!How did you hope the tactile and more methodical aspects of the book -- the size, the 206 pages -- would influence the reading experience?
@ Katilin: The structure was really self-conscious in some ways, and it was meant to break up the narrative without being too disruptive, I hope. It was experimental in a lot of ways, a convergence of themes with the stories, and what I liked about that was a device - I don't mean that in a heavy-handed way - to think about some of those questions raised. I wanted to include a lot more images, also, to counter the text. Empathy is so important, and using a long flowing story form would be a temptation to 'solve' Edouard's story, without making room for the reader to think about and feel those interplays between the body and the life.
@ jrose: thanks! I like to see new things too, new forms in books. It's fun and refreshing. No doubt it also helps if your last name begins with Y...
'Empathy is so important, and using a long flowing story form would be a temptation to 'solve' Edouard's story'
Is this why you decided to go for a historical fictional account rather than a biography, to explore the character more fully and perhaps have the reader empathize with him more?
All right! We are winding up in the last minutes here!
First off, this has been a great experience and it's a real treat to talk with thoughtful readers. Thanks again!
I hope people will go on relating to Edouard in their own ways, and asking questions about why we see some people as 'different'. I don't think his story was tragic, as I've said, I think it's beautiful and human. So I hope that's the sort of spirit going forward...
This has been such a great conversation -- thank you so much for joining us tonight with your thoughtful answers!
Thanks for your time tonight, Sarah! I loved the book and will recommend to all the Sask folks I know...the story is very compelling...all the best with your next projects! Would love to hear what's next...
Thanks! A pleasure!
@ Kailtin - thanks again - I appreciate that!
@Alex I am wrapping up another novel, so stay tuned...
Thanks, Sarah. Congratulations on the novels, old and new. I enjoyed both Edouard and this discussion! [/still commuting]
Thanks everyone for dropping by! Again apologies about the awkward format on my behalf, I hope it wasn't too confusing!
This has been a great discussion yet again, and stay tuned tomorrow for the announcement of what is up next! We've been working on a great topic for our next babble book club!
Thanks so much, Sarah, both for joining and writing such a fantastic book! And of course, thank you Kaitlin!