Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Louise from The Boy Talks Hegerat Obsession

A big welcome today to Louise, a character from Betty Jane Hegerat’s The Boy, who has dropped by to answer a few questions about what it’s like to be inside a book.

Louise's visit to Latitude Drifts is the first stop on The Boy’s virtual launch tour! So let the questions begin...

First, what was it like being a character in this blend of fiction, non-fiction, memoir and investigation? In an audio posted on her website, BJH suggests that your voice was difficult to silence…
Hi, Shelley. Thanks for inviting me to your blog! As you’ve already gleaned, I had a devil of a time motivating BJH to get my story on the page. This was straightforward fiction, the kind of story BJH could have handled in about 5,000 words if she’d put her pen to it and done the job instead of conjuring up dark shadows every time she got a few paragraphs on the page.
All I wanted was a man; spinster school teacher, plain as a pudding, meets presentable widower, marries, has a bit trouble with the stepson but eventually wins him over and all is gumdrops and roses in a little prairie town. I thought we were moving in the right direction in the opening scene when Jake Peters sauntered up to me in the bar, but it seems that’s the red lights were already flashing.


The possibility of me becoming stepmother to a troubled boy triggered the memory of that old murder case and not only did the research BJH seemed compelled to do steal time and attention from my story, for a while it seemed she might dump me entirely. The only way I knew to survive was to feign my own interest in the Cook family. And to keep questioning the energy she was pouring into pursuit of something she refused to define.
What was like being caught up in all this?
Disappointing when I feared that I might be set aside in favour of a book of non-fiction, because I was sure my story would be forgotten once BJH had dealt with the subject by exploring the real life crime.
Then it became challenging, because she was waffling and there seemed to be a possibility that I could steal it back.

And finally it became exciting, because I realized that my nagging was aiding the process and might just be the glue the two stories together.
It sounds as though there was an obsession driving this story. Was it yours or your author’s?
Obsession is the theme all right. Not only was BJH obsessed with that old murder story, but she decided to pull me into it as well. I admit it wasn’t that hard; after pretending interest in the story to keep pulling BJH’s attention back to where I wanted it—on me—I became drawn into Daisy’s story. We knew the ending to that one, and while I had to trust BJH to deal me a gentler hand, the more we heard about Daisy, the more we read, the scarier it became.
I could feel BJH’s fear as well. I think the two of us, in our dialogue about how the story was unfolding, were able to share the fear and finally to get beyond it. I think we both learned that even in “ordinary families”, where parents are concerned and do the best they can with what they have, there are things we cannot control. And that is liberating, because it helps us to absolve ourselves of blame.
Are you done with tugging on BJH’s sleeve now? Or do have other stories you want her to tell?
Ha! If you asked BJH this question, she would roll her eyes. She would tell you about the huge relief she feels at putting both boys to rest. But I like to think she’s grown fond of me, and I’m not going to vanish into the fictional hereafter. I’ll give her a break, but I noticed that she saved some of the pieces she cut from my chapters, set them aside because they weren’t germane to The Boy, but I’m hoping she’ll decide they might be worth revisiting in some shorter pieces.
Thanks so much for joining us, Louise! 

Betty Jane has decided to drop by, too, to read a teaser on the discussions she had with Louise about the story, and about Daisy Cook.


For a longer audio clip about The Boy (2011, Oolichan Books) and more updates on the virtual launch, visit Betty Jane Hegerat’s blog

And if you live in or near Regina, Saskatchewan, why not come to Betty Jane's reading?

It takes place as part of the Vertigo reading series on April 24, 2011, at the Chimney Lounge, 2710 Montague Street, where she'll be joined by Rhona McAdam, Keith Foster and Steven Ross Smith? 

Thanks Betty Jane — and thanks, Louise! See you (well, one of you, at least!) next week.

(Note: Louise's comments on this post and the audio contents © Betty Jane Hegerat)



  1. I just visited Betty Jane's link to hear the longer reader. Such good characterization, Betty Jane. - Leona

  2. Longer reading, that should be.

  3. Very interesting! I like characters who grab you and demand a voice. :)

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Koala Bear Writer!

  5. Hi Leona -- Yes, that long audio clip on Betty Jane's site ( is really engaging, isn't it?

    Thanks for visiting. (I've been following your Kate's adventures, and today, John Clare/ Jeanette Lynes.)



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