by Annemarie Koch
Reviews and author interviews for books available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library
The River Killers
Written By Bruce Burrows
Published By Touchwood Editions
Price: $15 Canadian
Available at Vancouver Island Regional Library, Chapters and www.touchwoodeditions.com
During a recent power outage, I tracked down Sointula author Bruce Burrows (not to be confused with another Bruce Burrows who was, apparently, bald and often in trouble with DFO) at his home to ask him about his recently published novel, The River Killers.
Burrows was between gigs as an at sea observer on the dragger fleet and unable to watch the football game due to a palpable lack of electricity.
AK: Many of the characters in this book seem familiar to meâ€¦.humour me and tell me who they are.
BB: Actually, there are only two characters that I consciously based on real people and they are the brothers who barge into the bar at Shearwater.
AK: I can think of a few sets of brothers who fit this description, can you tell me who they are?
AK: All right, what about the policewoman, I have my suspicions about herâ€¦
BB: I can tell you that Louise is made up of an entire quilt of characters and is quite probably the most fictional of all the participants in this drama.
AK: Surely the bad guy at DFO has a nameâ€¦
BB: OK, if you must know, Fleming Griffith is based on someone well known to commercial fishermen in this neck of the woods. This guy was an economist and I suspect he had no background in fishing at all. Anybody whoâ€™s a fisherman who reads the book will know who it is.
AK: What about the scientist? You paint him as a bad guy, but heâ€™s not all bad is he?
BB: Thatâ€™s right. Heâ€™s probably the most bipolar of the characters â€“ the potential for good and evil lies in the balance with that discipline.
AK: In your introduction, you thank the good people at DFOâ€¦all two of them. Who are they?
BB: I donâ€™t knowâ€¦seriously, I wanted to recognize that there are decent, hardworking people in the organizationâ€¦but not that many!
AK: North Island readers will be interested to know that the setting for this novel will be quite familiar to them.
BB: Yes, all of the place names are real and include Sointula, Alert Bay and Bella Bella. However, my publisher made me change the names of the characters, to protect the guilty, and I was not able to use real boat names, except where the name was no longer in use, for example, the Maple Leaf C.
AK: So why did you write the book?
BB: I needed the money.
AK: And howâ€™s that working for you?
BB: Well, actually, I started the book about 9 years ago, after I realized that cutting shake blocks was not exactly the best way to pay the bills for a person of my advancedâ€¦.ummâ€¦.stature.
I havenâ€™t got my first royalty cheque, but I believe I did reach my objectives.
AK: Which wereâ€¦.
BB: To write a good mystery novel, and to describe the uniqueness of making a living as a commercial fisherman on the B.C. coast. Most people donâ€™t believe you when you tell them that your shift never ends and that working for 24 hours straight is not uncommon.
I also wanted to point out the incompetence of DFOâ€¦and the irresponsibility of fishfarming.
AK: Have you got any other books in your back pocket?
BB: Iâ€™m about a quarter of the way through another one, but Iâ€™ve been pretty busy as an observer lately, so it might be awhile.
AK: Thanks for taking time out to share some background on your recent work Bruce. One final questionâ€¦I know you are a keen observer not only of fish but of the CFLâ€¦what are your predictions for the Grey Cup match in Vancouver on November 27.
BB: Iâ€™m calling for a B.C. â€“ Winnipeg matchup, with a final score of 28-13 in favour of B.C.
AK: And who will be the hero for the Lions?
BB: Iâ€™d have to say Shawn Gore, the young Canadian receiver. Iâ€™ll give Arland Bruce one touchdown catch, but the young Canadian receiver will win the day.
Author Bruce Burrows