He’s been living in Kentville since 1970 but Crawford grew up near the waterfront in Saint John, New Brunswick. His childhood memories greatly influenced his latest work.
Crawford said he’s worked hard to make his writing visual, using words to evoke strong images in the minds of readers.
“I would hear all kinds of stories about the Second World War and people who had sighted submarines,” Crawford said about his childhood. “I also knew various policemen, actually detectives, who would tell me about cases sometimes. I integrated a few of those into the book.”
Crawford said he loved growing up in Saint John and knew the nuances of each neighbourhood intimately. However, the landscape changed dramatically in the 1960’s with urban renewal. Entire neighbourhoods were torn down. Crawford said this traumatized him and he always found himself reflecting back on what the city used to look like.
Crawford said the aspect he enjoyed most about writing the book was revisiting all the Saint John neighbourhoods that no longer exist and incorporating them into the novel.
“I can picture them in my head very vividly,” Crawford said.
Crawford, who has published books of poetry and another novel, said he always wanted to write a detective novel. He said the story has actually become quite topical, involving foreign governments interfering with national sovereignty.
The book begins on Valentine’s Day, 1939, with the discovery of a body in the hold of a Norwegian cargo ship, igniting the investigation of a lifetime for Det. Sgt. Jack Ireland. The detective can sense that something is drastically wrong and that “sets him off.”
“Then he’s told not to do anything about it, so that really gets him suspicious,” Crawford said. “The trouble with Jack is that he’s very honest, he’ll just pursue something and he’s kind of a champion of the common man.”
Crawford said his previous publisher, Oberon, looked at the book three times but rejected it on the basis that it was too commercial and wasn’t a fit with their catalogue. He was accepted by another published that ended up going bankrupt, leaving Crawford with an unfulfilled contract.
Following an emergency surgery last year, Crawford said he didn’t want to go through another submission process so he and his wife decided to self-publish the book. They’ve been pleased with the results. Crawford said he has future literary plans for main character Jack Ireland.
Crawford said he hopes the book makes people think about certain aspects of our society, not to take things too much for granted, to look beneath the surface and to question authority.
He said he’s always enjoyed writing. He would make up stories while running errands as a child and was “outed” as a closet poet in high school.
When asked what he finds most challenging about writing, Crawford said, “Sitting down on my ass and doing it.”
“The lighting and the tea have to be just right,” Crawford said. “Sometimes once I get started, I don’t want to stop.”
Crawford said you “really have to be on top of things” when you self-edit. For example, he ended up cutting 120 pages from the novel, mainly long, descriptive passages that didn’t advance the plot.
Did you know?
- “The Trouble With Jack Ireland” can be ordered through independent bookstores or online at www.amazon.ca. It’s also available as an eBook. Autographed copies can be ordered directly from Crawford at (902) 678-4768 or by visiting 594 West Main St. in Kentville.
- Crawford published two books of poetry, Lost Neighbourhood in 1969 and Sorcerers Café in 1971.
- His transitional book of prose-poetry The Werewolf Miracles was published in 1976 and his first novel, Angels in the Rain, was published in 1986.
- Crawford represented Nova Scotia at the Cultural Olympics in 1976, coinciding with the Olympic Games in Montreal.
- Crawford’s work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies and has been broadcast nationally on CBC Radio.