Kristen den Hartog's fiction is often set in the area around Deep River, Ontario where she grew up. Kristen's fourth novel, And Me Among Them, was shortlisted for the Trillium Award and has been released in the U.S. as The Girl Giant. Kristen is also the grown-up behind Blog of Green Gables, a mother-daughter reading journal that she undertook with her daughter, "N." Kristen is a Page Turner, and today she tells you how to build a Trans-Canada Highway of our stories. You just might win a copy of And Me Among Them, while you're at it.
Think of the scene from Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin of A Lion when a nun falls from the Bloor Street Viaduct; or of Vancouver’s Chinatown circa 1940 in The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy. This country is full of such places: real ones that appear in our stories too. Three of my own novels are set in Deep River, Ontario, the town where I grew up – at magical Rabbit Rock, thick with moss and pine needles, along the TransCanada Highway with its roaring transport trucks, or even down inside the cold dark river. I know I’ve got something right when people who know these places say they have recognized them in my stories.
To celebrate the way place inspires literature, actual “Bookmarks” have begun popping up across Canada. There are 12 so far – poster-size ceramic plaques that bring stories and poems right into the landscape where they were set.
I’ve signed on as a Project Bookmark Page Turner because I want to see more, and more, and more of them.
These markers remind me of the spots we stopped at when we were kids: getting out of the car on a road trip and stretching our legs while reading about some historic battle or church or settlement. Looking at the spot we were in and trying to imagine the thing happening there long ago. I love that Project Bookmark gives the same weight to invented stories pressed into actual places.
So I’m here not only to tell you that I’m a Page Turner, but to ask you to be one too. It’s pretty simple. You donate $20 to Project Bookmark, just as I have. If you donate today, you have the chance to win a copy of my novel, And Me Among Them.
But the best part is this: you’ll be one on a growing list of writers and readers who are building a kind of literary TransCanada Highway: “a network of sites and stories, so that we can read our way across the country.”