Sunday, March 11, 2012
Vicki here on Sunday. Did you remember to turn your clocks forward?
Who do I trust?
I trust most people. I’m lucky enough to live in a world in which I trust people to do what they say they’ll do. I trust shopkeepers not to cheat me, I trust passers-by not to attack me on the street, I trust my neighbours not to break into my house if they know I’m away. I trust businesses I deal with to be faithful to me (i.e. my bank isn’t going to steal my money). I used to trust my government, but increasingly I don’t (see roboscam, off-shore pension announcements, “tough-on-crime” bill, et al). I even trust my ex-husband with whom I have a close, friendly relationship.
But I write mystery novels and how boring would that be if everyone trusted everyone else to do the right thing. And they did!
My new book, Gold Mountain, the third in the Klondike Gold Rush series from Dundurn Press will be released in a few weeks. One of the key relationships that has been touched on in the series but is explored in more depth in this book, is between Fiona MacGillivrary, dance hall owner, woman with a past, and her business partner, a tough little Glasgow streetfighter named Ray Walker who comes from a world in which you can’t trust anyone.
Here’s Ray thinking about his life and the one person he can trust.
Ray Walker had never been a lucky man. Born in the slums surrounding the great Glasgow shipyards where luck was in exceedingly short supply, he’d been raised to use his fists almost from the cradle. His father was a good man but none too bright, out of work more often than not usually because he didn’t always remember to do what he’d been told. Ray’s mother worked long hours at the fish canning plant and then hurried home to take care of her family. She gave birth to twelve children in twenty years but only three of them survived. Ray and his two wee sisters.
Ray Walker began working on the docks when he was twelve years old, handing over what money he earned to his mother to pay the rent on their stinking tenement flat and buy food for the younger children.
When Ray was fifteen his father died – coughing up blood until there was so much he drowned in it. Ray stayed at home until his youngest sister was safely wed and then left. He sent part of his wages to his mother, visited his sisters and their wee ones on a Sunday, but otherwise could pretty much be counted on to get in a fight on a Saturday night and drink up what remained of his pay packet.
One night, not long after his mother died, finally crushed by life, Ray was with a woman, a cheap slag who prowled the shipyards, in the filthy flat she worked out of. She said something, he never remembered what, that offended him, and he beat her until she passed out.
He quit his job the next day, said good-bye to his sisters, and left Glasgow. Not because he was afraid of the police, no one cared about a slag getting herself smacked around, but because he realized he was on a very dangerous path indeed.
He went to London, worked at odd jobs, stayed away – mostly – from the pubs and the prostitutes and saved his wages until he could buy passage to the New World. He wanted to go to America, but as it happened when at last he went to purchase his ticket, the next ship out was bound for Halifax.
Life was still hard, but he never thought it any harder than that of most of the poor people he came across as he made his way across the continent.
He used the last of the money he’d made working on the Vancouver docks to buy supplies and passage to the Klondike.
He got off the boat in Skagway in August of 1897.
And had his first bit of luck in all of his forty years.
He met Fiona MacGillivray.
She’d been like a dream, Fiona. Not because she was beautiful and proper and charming, but because she was as smart and cunning and unscrupulous as ever a man Ray had known.
She reminded him in some ways of his mother. Or perhaps what his mother might have been able to be if she hadn’t wed at fourteen and born twelve children by the time she was thirty-five.
He’d never felt anything sexual towards Fiona. He could rub her feet when they ached at the end of a long day, or watch her arranging her hair in front of the cracked mirror in her office, and found no strain in his trousers or shortage of breath.
She was, quite simply, the best thing that had ever happened to him. She was as tough as they came, tougher than most, and a true Scotswoman, holding loyalty to family and clan above all. And he, Ray Walker, was part of her new-world clan. He trusted her completely, but nevertheless he checked the ledger every week and popped into the bank on occasion to ensure the business accounts were as they should be.
Gold Mountain will be released in April, but you can pre-order a copy now at your favourite independent bookstore or the usual online sources (Click here for Amazon.com). And here for Amazon.ca.
The first two books in the series are Gold Digger and Gold Fever. Electronic versions are so far available only for KOBO, but Kindle and Nook should be up in the week.