8 books that inspired Caught star Allan Hawco
Allan Hawco is the star, showrunner and writer of Caught, a five-episode series that premieres on CBC on Feb. 26, 2018. The show is based on the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated novel of the same name by Lisa Moore. Set in 1978, the story follows David Slaney, who dreams of a carefree life — but must first break out of prison and pull off one more job with his old business partner.
Below, Hawco, known for his work on Republic of Doyle and Frontier, tells CBC Books about eight books he loves.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
"Sometimes, as a student, literature can be framed like it's a chore you're being forced to do, or at least that's the way I felt. Shakespeare was what opened the gate. I had an amazing teacher in high school, and once I started realizing the complexities within the writing, the complexities in the message and the complexities of what happened to these characters, I was sucked in. Then I discovered it's not just Shakespeare's plays that can lead you this way and a whole universe opened up."
Caught by Lisa Moore
"Caught spoke to me right away. I could hear the music of the period screaming at me, and I could see right away what I thought it should be for television. Lisa's such a beautiful, lyrical writer, who takes you through a character's internal thought process. A lot of that stuff does not translate well to film, so there had to be structural changes. I worked hard to keep touchstones, no matter how far away I went from the original idea. I'm still having 'pinch me' moments. I'm so grateful it all happened."
In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
"Being in Newfoundland, I always felt so far away from what Canada was. It felt like a different country. You're living there, and reading these Canadian authors like Michael Ondaatje. Something about In the Skin of a Lion rocked my existence."
Today I Learned It Was You by Ed Riche
"Ed Riche has such a crazy sense of humour. He's such a wonderful writer who paints such an interesting portrait of who these people are. I obviously identify with them because he's writing about where I live and grew up. I literally know some of these people."
Where I Belong and A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle
"Alan Doyle is a friend. His voice is so specific, you can hear him reading to you. His style of writing and his sense of humour are so deeply connected to who he is as a person. He's so entertaining. He's a born showman. He's a born host. I'd imagine that is a tricky thing to pull off, to have that translate so well into your writing."
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
"Someone gave The Alchemist to me as a gift. I was at a place in my life where I needed some kind of blind faith in what I was doing as a career. I was so cynical about stuff like 'everything happens for a reason' — I didn't buy into it. But I needed a non-cynical perspective. I needed something that said, 'Stay the course and if you keep looking at it and looking for it, you could possibly get there.' There was something about this book that was like, 'OK, luck is going to be a big part of success. Hard work matters, but you have to be willing to be lucky, so try that angle.'"
Empire of the Bay by Peter C. Newman
"Empire of the Bay is Peter Newman's book about The Hudson's Bay Company and the fur trade. It should be mandatory reading to get a handle on where we come from, and how this all started. I think Canada is a close-to-perfect country in so many ways, but we still have so much to atone for in other ways."
Allan Hawco's comments have been edited and condensed.