Jesse Ruddock on how dreams and diving deep inspired her debut novel

When 11-year-old Tristan's mother unexpectedly dies, he is left to fend for himself on an isolated island. Songwriter and photographer Jesse Ruddock's Shot-Blue is a lyrical love letter to the rugged Canadian wilderness. 

Below, Ruddock divulges the discoveries she made while writing her debut novel.

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Childhood sanctuary
I grew up in Guelph, but I'd always go north for the summers. All my siblings, we had summer jobs and so did my friends. Mine ended up being a carpenter's apprentice on a lake up north. That was the place of my heart growing up. I really loved it. I was given a lot of responsibility and felt very free there. Not all my poems or stories before had been set there, but I decided if I wanted to be somewhere for a long time, that would be the place I'd want to be in my imagination. 

I wanted to write a book in a meditative way that captured a place that was free from all of these distractions that are now so constant. What I loved the most growing up was being away from all that stuff. So I wanted to immerse myself in that, just partly to understand that world and what it means, but also just for my own pleasure. 

Missed connections
You meet everyone on their own terms entirely and I think that the book partly dramatizes that people, when they're communicating, are often slightly miscommunicating, mishearing, misunderstanding. But also, there is a lot of love and desire and wanted friendship too in this book. I think even in some of my studies of literature that I really dig, there's a lot of things about missing each other a little bit and then the whole world swings off its axis a little bit. I'm really interested in that all the time. Those things really interest me, so they come out in the fiction. I guess they just get played out.

Diving deep
Tristan has this recurring dream where he's treading water but he wants to be in the water sometimes and doesn't want to be in the water. When I grew up, I had that recurring dream of being in the water and not knowing sometimes if there was more water or sky, if it was night out. It's kind of a nice image for the book. The water, too, is the unconscious. It was a really a meditative process writing it and a lot of the characters and the things that happened rose out of things that I wasn't thinking about on the surface. 

Jesse Ruddock's comments have been edited and condensed.

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