Ross Murray launches A Hole in the Ground

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin

Canadian humorist and columnist Ross Murray autographing copies of his debut novel A Hole in the Ground at the Livres Trois Canons bookstore.

On November 16, Livres Trois Canons bookstore welcomed guests to a special book launch to meet Canadian humorist and columnist Ross Murray as he launched his debut novel, A Hole in the Ground

 "My novel is set in the fictional lumber town of Beaverly on the Saint-Régis River [not the river flowing through upstate New York]. It is just after the 1998 Ice Storm," said Murray. "Beaverly's claim to fame is Canada's deepest but least exploited sinkhole. It is caught up in litigation between the town, which wants it to be a tourist attraction, and the owners of the land, who are jerks. 

"The idea of [southeastern Quebec] municipalities creating their own emergency plans after the Ice Storm factors into the story," he said. "I wanted the Internet to be in its infancy. At the time, I had this sense that the Internet was going to be something incredible, but it wasn't going to harm local newspapers. Obviously, I am wrong." He continued, "I wanted it to be pre-9/11. I started thinking about the story back then, around 1998."  

Readers often ask authors about the development of characters and their names. "It is a lot like the writing process; they come," said Murray. "I always wanted a mayor character, and I named him Conrad, or Connie, early on. Recently, I realized that he is a bit of a conman. Mayor Lemon, comes from Meyer lemon, a sweet lemon - Meyer lemon, Mayor Lemon.

 "The protagonist of the story is Jemima MacNaught, named after the Aunt Jemima syrup brand. She is a reporter for the local paper The Beaverly Modicum," said Murray. "At first, the reporter was going to be male, but then everyone would associate him with me." By making the journalist a female, Murray can distance himself and develop his character.  

A Hole in the Ground provides interesting insights into municipal politics and Beaverly's citizens, who will either sink or enter into the 21st century. It is available at Livres Trois Canons and on www.amazon.ca. 

Always thinking of what's next, Murray looks to his imagination as the source of scenarios and plots for future stories. These days, he is creating a play based on the rumour of what could have been a plausible Beatles reunion. The event would take place at the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which straddles the Canada-United States border at Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont. 

"It is the most incredible event that never happened," said Murray. "I'd like to have it performed at the Haskell."

 Ross Murray is a humorist and columnist originally from Nova Scotia. Now living in the Eastern Townships, he has been the communications coordinator at Stanstead College for more than 10 years, a columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and until recently, worked for CBC Radio One's Breakaway. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House.