CHARLOTTE COUNTY – Riel Nason, author of The Town That Drowned, is the first Courier book club selection.
The Town That Drowned celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021 since first being published in Canada. The novel won the Commonwealth Book Prize for Europe and Canada.
“Even being nominated was an absolute thrill and I figured that was that. I had completely convinced myself that there was no way my book would win and that one of the nominees from the UK would be chosen,” said Nason, in an email to the Courier. “I can remember sitting in absolute disbelief when I got the email saying I had won. I read it multiple times to be sure I was understanding it correctly.”
After finding success with publishing her short stories in a variety of magazines and literary journals, Nason found a literary agent. From there, she tried to sell a book of her compiled short stories. Positive feedback aside, the idea for a book did not amount to a tangible reality.
“It was very discouraging, but I knew I’d regret not trying something else – especially knowing I had an agent I could submit the manuscript to. So I started writing The Town That Drowned,” said Nason.
Nason found inspiration for the story from flooding of the Saint John River Valley. The flooding occurred in the late 1960s, around the time when the Mactaquac Dam was built. That event would serve as inspiration for the overarching event taking place within the book. The characters and plot are entirely fictional, according to Nason, who describes the story as a coming-of-age tale for the main character, Ruby.
“I have been thrilled with the number of book clubs that have read the book,” said Nason. A few years ago, Woodstock used the novel as a town-wide read. Other private clubs, schools, and libraries have also chosen Nason’s book for their book club selections.
The Town That Drowned was selected for the Forest of Reading program for students across the province to read.
“It has certainly been a while since all that happened, so it is exciting to think of St. Stephen readers discovering it now,” said Nason. “I will always be proud of the book, and I love the reception the story continues to have here at home in New Brunswick.”
Currently, Nason says she is working on several ideas for picture books as well as a new novel.