The Next Chapter

Richard Van Camp on his many, many new books

With six new books published, Richard Van Camp had a very productive year, despite having a newborn in the house.
Richard Van Camp has had a productive year, with six books published in 2015. (Mark Mushet)

Richard Van Camp has had a very productive year. His family has a new baby, and he has six publications coming out, including two graphic novels and one young adult book.

In his interview with Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter, Van Camp gives us a rundown of three of his new projects. This interview originally aired on November 9, 2015.

The story is about three young men who are returning from nine months on the land. They have been banished as part of a sentencing circle. For nine months, they've been taught to hunt, they've been taught their languages: one is Cree, one is Dene, and one is Dogrib. This is based on a true story from Fort Smith. Unfortunately, the three young men who were breaking into houses, including ours, were sent down south for two years each after they were caught. I wanted to go back and fix in my mind what should have happened. We're so good at incarcerating young people, when I believe we should give them a chance out on the land. We should trust them with responsibility. These boys said at their trial that the reason they started robbing us was because they never had anything to eat. They were always starving. When they were caught, they had thousands of dollars worth of stuff in their basement.

Three or four years ago, I was at the Toronto International Film Festival. I'm there with my wife and my entire family. We're getting ready to watch The Lesser Blessed, the movie based on my novel. It was the last scene with Darcy McManus played by Adam Butcher, who says, "Larry, I am going to a group home for what I did to you. I thought you should know that." When I saw that, my jaw dropped, because that's not in the novel. I said, "Oh, I got to write a book! What happens to Darcy after The Lesser Blessed?' So Whistle is a series of six letters in which Darcy has to write to the people that he's bullied and wronged.

I think you are baptized in the north when you get your bike stolen. It is a rite of passage. So my bike - a mountain bike I called the Blue Raven - was stolen and I called Trevor Evans. We went racing all over the place, and I was introduced to this underground situation where there are hundreds of bikes in a certain house's basement. The Blue Raven was inspired by that, but I change how it turns out. It's funny, but I bawled my eyes out writing it.

Richard Van Camp's comments have been edited and condensed.

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