By Dan Walton
If you enjoyed the short stories Once You Break a Knuckle and The Dead Roads both written by renowned short story author D.W. Wilson, who grew up in Invermere keep your eye out for Ballistics, his first full-length novel, which happens to be based in his hometown.
The book was released on June 25th in Canada, but is currently unavailable in most countries, including the United Kingdom where Mr. Wilson currently resides.
Ballistics begins in 1975 and follows the struggles of an American soldier who deserted the army to avoid fighting in the Vietnam war. The soldier moves north of the U.S. border and makes Invermere his new home, and inadvertently lays a trail out through the province. The story migrates into the year 2003, when the soldiers grandson is lead to a discovery that prompts him to travel westbound to search for his lost father. The hunt leads him down the trail that his grandfather blazed in the 1970s.
Hes going along this path and closing up loose ends that were left open a generation before, said Mr. Wilson.
In 2003, however, that trail leads the young man through abundant risks, as the blistering fires that were raging through the Okanagan valley interfere with his journey.
People familiar with Invermere will identify a lot of the landmarks, he said. Among the several locations based around Invermere, Mr. Wilson said his characters make good use of the Kinsmen Beach.
In writing Ballistics, he tried to convey a sense of Canadiana, but he told The Pioneer the novel received lukewarm reception in Canada, with reviewers referring to his characters as super-masculine and hyper-manly.
He said the characters in the story often portray burlier characters, since the trait is so common in a small town setting.
In all rural communities, theres a greater emphasis on the body, on physical things, he said. Whether you go hunting, fishing or camping, those are all physical things, and theyre a lot more prevalent in a place like Invermere than in a city.
And he said he effectively writes about loneliness and the communication challenges of people who cant articulate their emotions, another small-town trait.
Its easier to do with a character who is more comfortable with their body than with their feelings, he said.
After exploring the experience of both his characters in Invermere, the time comes in the novel for them to leave town and head west, nearly four decades apart. And while the characters trip west portrays many of the communities throughout the province, B.C. readers may question the accuracy of the characters travels.
I fudged the geography a little, he said. I wrote about a straight path west just for simplicitys sake.
But Ballistics isnt a geography textbook it does the job of entertaining the reader.
As long as its authentic, has the right detail with the voice on spot and its got the sensory atmosphere that a work of fiction needs to be immersive, then it doesnt have to be factually correct, said Mr. Wilson, adding that the truth is more important than the facts.
Work on the novel began in 2009, when he created a mental pillar for the basis of the story.
However, upwards of 50,000 words were deleted from the story when he realized it wasnt going anywhere.
I lost a year of my life because I didnt plan ahead enough.
But with his debut novel out of the way, he said he plans on writing another before releasing his next short story collection.
Along with Mr. Wilsons short story collection, Once You Break a Knuckle, Ballistics can be found at the Invermere Public Library as well as ordered online through www.amazon.ca.