Author and Terrace Standard reporter Josh Massey releases his second novel, The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree, here on Oct. 23.
Set in the near future in the mountainous and fielded cusp between B.C. and Alberta, ex-hipster-turned-elk-farmer Jeffery Inkster’s goal is to live peacefully, harvesting his elks’ antlers, but he becomes embroiled in the political violence of oil-pipeline expansion.
We sat down with him to see what makes him tick and why this book is important to him and to us.
How does an Ontario guy end up planting trees in bc and coming up with the idea to write a story like this?
Planting is a nomadic industry. Once the spring plant ends in Ontario, planters frequently get on with other outfits in B.C. or Quebec to seek employment into the summer months.
That was my introduction to Northern B.C., but it was really my later work as a forest tech that settled me here. I worked as a silviculture surveyor and also doing wildlife surveys on an environmental crew counting owls in the Peace Country, doing pine beetle work near Smithers.
This connected me to the intrigue of the wilderness and I took an interest in elk. Writing a novel about an elk farmer set in the future, well that was a bit of an imaginative leap, but certainly I had a look at ranching life living in the Peace.
The pipeline politics aspect of the book, the chaos of boom-bust development, that also comes out of the politics that saturate the northern landscape and its towns.
Why write/publish this book now?
Animal rights, the politics surrounding industrial development, western alienation—these are the big topics that surround the book.
I believe publishers are aware of the zeitgeist, the social milieu that seems to call forth works that engage current dialogue.
As a storyteller, I can say that I aim to spin yarns that readers will find both entertaining and challenging, that grind a number of topics through a poetic and philosophic spin cycle and illuminates serious topics with humour.
How long did it take you to write?
I started the book in 2011 and chipped away at it over the next four years.
What do you hope readers will get out of the book?
I call it a primal yowl or scream that vents the frustration we may feel in a world that’s sagging under the weight of so much humanity. I hope that it will cause people to see the country, and northern B.C. in a refreshed, new light, and ultimately a positive vision of coming days. I like to stimulate and to provoke, to inspire a range of emotions and intellectual reactions. I think those who read this book will find a mysterious world to explore.
Do you base any of the characters on real people you worked with or yourself?
I like to create imaginary characters. Sometimes I pull in elements of experience that people will recognize.
Writing-wise, I have a poetry collection that’s been 15 years in the writing, and I have a third novel partially written which I am eager to get back at. Short stories to finish, etc. Keeping the creative ball rolling.
Terrace Public Library, Misty River Books and Bookthug Publishers, present Josh Massey’s the plotline bomber of innisfree, an evening of music and readings at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Elephant’s Ear. Music by Jay Hughes, Reg Bruneau, Dylan Gordon with guest poets Solveig Adar and Dave Millar. Light snacks provided, books on sale.