Thunder Bay

Michael Christie sets "If I Fall, If I Die" in Thunder Bay

Michael Christie is in Thunder Bay Thursday night for a book reading and signing in support of his debut novel “If I Fall, If I Die.”

Michael Christie's debut novel, set in Thunder Bay, is earning accolades

Michael Christie's debut novel is set in Thunder Bay. He'll be appearing at a book signing Thursday night at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. (Penguin Random House Canada)

Michael Christie says he intentionally picked his hometown of Thunder Bay as the setting for his new novel because he feels the area hasn't been well represented in Canadian literature.

He is in the city Thursday night for a book reading and signing in support of his debut novel "If I Fall, If I Die."

It's already received praise from the New York Times, which named the book an Editor's Choice.

The story is about a boy named Will who can't remember ever being outside. He has spent most of his life happily inside with his mother, Diane. She has agoraphobia and panics at the thought of leaving her home. Then one day, Will takes a step and ventures outside.  

He takes up skateboarding. He meets Jonah, an Aboriginal boy and the two become best friends. And when another local boy goes missing, they are drawn into an adventure.  

Books featuring northern Ontario are relatively uncommon, Christie said.

He recalled how much it meant to him as a young writer to see Thunder Bay mentioned in a famous Canadian novel.

"There's a scene in one of Michael Ondaatje's books that is set somewhere near here, it's sort of unclear, but I remember I held onto that scene for years. It's in The Skin of the Lion and I just remember thinking 'He did it. I can do it. It's possible. You won't get laughed out of the room,'" said Christie.

Christie's earlier collection of short stories "The Beggars Garden" was long-listed for the Giller Prize and was a finalist for the Writer's Trust Prize for Fiction.

Christie wiill be reading from his new novel Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

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