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Orat entry statue

St. Joseph Oratory. I’m not particularly religious, but even if you’re a heathen like me this is a must see–one of the of the most beautiful places in the city.

In June, it will be nine years.

Nine years since I stepped off a plane in Montreal Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport to start one of the most exhilarating events of my life. Nine years since I first put pen to paper, and brought Evie Cappelli to life.

I was twenty, and it was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college.

I’ll be honest; it wasn’t a great time for me. I wasn’t sure if I should continue with my major, or change schools altogether. Two of my roommates had a falling out with Missouri and I, and I had no idea where I was going to be living when I got back to Ohio.

Notre Dame

Montreal’s Notre Dame

But opportunity had knocked, and I seized it by the throat and beat it into submission, taking an internship in the garment district.

For the first time in my life, I was on my own. I had no friends for 2,000+ miles. My only family was my uncle, who lived about two hours outside of the city by car.

It was a confusing time. Scary, and uncertain, and sometimes sad. But it was also thrilling.

There were a lot of things that I needed to work through, and one day while I was walking down Avenue du Parc, I found a fantastic stationary store where I paid way too much money for two pends and two leather bound notebooks. I brought them back to my borrowed duplex, and when I tried to put my thoughts in order, to sort through the mess and the miasma that had driven me from Ohio, Evie came out the other side.

DSCF1901

The “Weeping Angel” war memorial in Outremont Park makes an appearance in The Spider’s Web.

Though the final book is barely 60,000 words, the writing of it felt epic. It is not an exaggeration to say that it was written and rewritten at least ten times. Characters were added, then killed off, then deleted completely. My favorite scenes were embellished and trimmed and edited and rewritten until they were perfect, only to be cut from the final draft. I estimate that those 60,000 words contain the boiled down essence of at least 150,000 words.

writing spot

This was one of my favorite writing spots, in a little green space just below the University of Montreal. Evie makes at least one visit to this spot.

Some things stayed. The heartbeat of the city. The things that made me fall in love with it, and the struggle I had reconciling my confusion and loneliness with my desire to make Montreal my new home. To this day, it is one of my favorite cities on the planet, and one that I would happily move to.

The Montreal summer saw a lot of changes, not all of them good. I’m still not sure that I found what I was looking for when I boarded that plane, but I definitely found something, and it’s something I’m still trying to get more of.