I sent the sequel to Broken but not Dead to my publisher in December, so I'm waiting to hear news of their decision (on bended knee). Okay, not really, but I am anxious. Omatiwak: Woman Who Cries is the story of a broken woman, Declan's and Bronson's mother, sixty-year-old Sally Warner.
You might remember Sally (Kathy Bates lookalike) from Broken but not Dead; she was generally drunk. No one was more surprised than I when she sobered up and turned out to be a fascinating woman. And persistent. After I finished Broken, Sally wouldn't leave. Days, weeks, months, she hounded me.
|"Joylene, you must write my story." But Sally, I want to go south where it's warm.|
I wrote the first chapter of Omatiwak on October 11th, 1999, and, as usual, presented the pages to my mother before retiring for the evening. She was watching Jerry Springer in her room. In the morning I found the pages on the dining room table with two spelling corrections. At ten o'clock I checked on my mum and found she had passed.
Finishing Omatiwak held new meaning.
I quickly realized that I needed someone strong to balance Sally's commanding presence. Someone who would also become her friend. I chose (or maybe he chose me) RCMP Investigator Corporal Danny Killian. Sounds Irish, eh? Actually, Danny was born in Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands. Haida Gwaii means "islands of the people".
|Surprisingly, Danny Killian looks a lot like Adam Beach.|
Accordingly to Haida legend, Haida Gwaii is the place where time began. It's also the birthplace of a dear friend who passed away several years ago.
Georgia's lineage went back 7000 years. The first explorers didn't arrived from Spain until 1774.
But this isn't a history lesson.
As I got to know Danny, I realized he was caught between two worlds, that of the white man he wanted so much to emulate and that of his proud and noble heritage.
When he was a baby, his father died. When he was a child, his mother fell in love and married a visiting marine biologist from the mainland of British Columbia. Understanding the importance of Danny's aboriginal ancestry, Killian Senior took Danny out of the residential school, adopted him, and built a home for his new family on the reserve, so that Danny's connection to the land would grow, not diminish.
When Danny was ten years old, his mother died suddenly of complications from pneumonia. Killian Senior kept Danny close during that difficult time. Danny would later credit his dad in keeping him grounded by invoking a strong sense of pride and obligation in Danny becoming the man his mother would have wanted him to be. It's one of the reasons Danny joined the RCMP after graduation. In honour of his parents and his heritage, he hoped to make a difference.
Isn't it interesting that Danny should choose a career that, like his heritage, isn't always viewed kindly by many Canadians?
Omatiwak: Woman Who Cries opens. Four weeks later, while her murder remained unsolved, Danny captured one of Vancouver's most hideous serial killers, a psychopath targeting native sex-trade workers. Because of his quick actions, Danny was promoted and transferred to Prince George, away from any involvement in his wife's investigation.
When he meets Sally, they are both at the lowest point in their lives. Sally's husband, retired minister of National Defence, has just been found shot dead in their kitchen; and Danny is reeling over the unsolved murder of his wife. Bent on solving Warner's murder, he developes an unusual friendship with Sally. The similarities in their lives are too strong to ignore. Neither of them fit well within the confounds of our society.
I hope it's evident that there is more to Omatiwak than meets the eye. It was difficult hitting upon issues seldom spoken of. Many foreigners are surprised when they learn that racial prejudice and the distrust of police is alive and well in Canada. Because we're known as the "nice nation", it's hard to image such bias exists here. But they do. The "why" is a mystery.
But that's not what this post is about either.
I wanted to share with you how much I enjoyed writing Omatiwak and why finishing it was so important to me. Sally Warner and Danny Killian are two characters who are as different as two people could be, and I love them dearly. I hope my publisher and those on the editorial committee feel the same way. But mostly I hope my readers (because I do believe Omatiwak will be published) see beyond their external shells, (one is middle-aged and far from Hollywood's glamour girl, and the other is an Indian), right down to their very souls. Fictional souls, of course.
Some people say there are only two kinds of people in the world. I agree. There are those who write stories and there are those who don't.