‘I knew immediately that it was a great opportunity for my book'
TRURO - A local English teacher's fictionalized version of the Westray Mine disaster will be read throughout the province for the next two months.
Leo McKay Jr.'s ‘Twenty-Six' was chosen for the province-wide reading initiative called One Book Nova Scotia.
"It's the first year that they've had One Book, so it was a bit unknown about how it would exactly work," said McKay, a 48-year-old Stellarton native now living in Truro. "I knew immediately that it was a great opportunity for my book and for me to travel around the province to meet people. So I was thrilled."
The CEC teacher knew before the rest of the province his book was chosen and is excited to be a part of the program, one that aims to build literary culture in Nova Scotia.
"What I really like about the One Book program is it's a program, not a prize, that I've won. It's an exercise in community building and it's about developing literacy in the province and encouraging a literary culture and they've just basically asked me to take part in that," he said.
‘Twenty-Six' was published in 2003, eight years after McKay and his family - wife and three kids - moved to Maitland, where they lived for 13 years before moving to Truro.
One Book has rejuvenated the book in terms of sales and the number of people reading it.
"Suddenly people are interested in the book again. Librarians from across the province have told me that there are waiting lists at libraries and they ordered many extra copies of the book before the One Book announcement," he said.
McKay said he thinks Nova Scotians will respond positively to ‘Twenty-Six' because it's a novel about real life in Nova Scotia that's written with respect for the province.
"I know a little bit from my experience from when the book was first released that people appreciate that I wrote that book with great care and respect for the province of Nova Scotia and for Pictou County," he said. "One of the things focusing a novel in a specific place does, from the point of view of that book, is it acknowledges that the real world goes on in this place and there are real things happening. Real life happens in Pictou County and it's worth talking about."
Of the 12 official author readings McKay will do, he is most looking forward to returning to his hometown, where the book is set, and reading to that audience because he hasn't yet done a reading there.
"It will be a very meaningful event for me, personally," he said. "I don't live very far away but you don't have to live very far away to be living somewhere else. I live in Truro now, this is where I live and this is where a big chunk of my life is. But, at heart, I'm from the neighbourhood in Stellarton called the Red Row, and I think no matter where I go, I'll always be a Red Rower."
For more information on One Book Nova Scotia, go to 1bns.ca.