I recently had the opportunity to field some questions from old friends and fellow author/creative types Peter Fenton and Scott White, mostly about The Perpetual Now, the creative process, and upcoming work. Read the entire interview here:
About a year ago at this time, I was submitting TPN (that’s my acronym for The Perpetual Now… get used to it) for a whole whack of indie book awards. One of them was the Best Indie Book Award (BIBA), which looked appealing but whose submission deadline wasn’t until the fall. I jotted it down on my calendar, put it faaaaaar away at the back of my mind, and proceeded to chase after closer fare. Well, the story of those award submissions played out as described in previous entries, and I’ve been more than happy with the results.
In October I was reminded of the approaching BIBA deadline and dutifully submitted my novel, uploading a PDF copy to save time and money. By then I was doing it almost half-heartedly: some of my later award submissions had been barely even acknowledged, and I was wondering if it was all worth it. Perhaps I should just be happy with the recognition that the novel had already received at leave it at that.
Then in December I received an email from BIBA, telling me that the final selection process was nearing its end, and that — just to be sure — they needed me to confirm my mailing address! OK, this is exciting.
On December 15th, my hopes were realized: my debut novel had been awarded the 2021 Best Indie Book Award for Science Fiction!!! They sent me a the award over the holidays.
Meanwhile, The Prairies Book Review published their review of the book, and the results were no less thrilling: Gripping, powerful, and unforgettable… An emotion-packed must-read. Bourgault infuses his exceptionally well-built world with small town intrigue, old secrets, treacheries, and human drama in his deeply engrossing debut...
Not the worst way to finish a year!
This week, I appeared on a wonderful YouTube program called SNAK, a “bite-size interview show” created by actors and friends Jorge Molina, Andrea Lyons and Bonnie Anderson. They somehow manage to successfully distill a thirty-minute interview into a 3-minute chat, and it’s great fun!
It’s three highly condensed minutes about me and my journey through Anthropology, art and design, acting, and writing. Enjoy!
Spring is independent book award season, and as I mentioned in my last post, this year I entered my novel in a number of them on the off-chance that last year’s recognition from the International Book Awards wasn’t a fluke.
Well, the results are (almost) all in and I couldn’t be happier!
Winners and finalists for the Eric Hoffer Awards were announced on May 10, and The Perpetual Now did not go unnoticed. It was named a Winner in the category of Commercial Fiction, with an Honorable Mention placing it within the top five of that category!
In addition, it was named as a Finalist for the First Horizon Award (Best Work by a Debut Author) and was even Shortlisted for the Grand Prize! Check out their website for the complete list of winners and finalists: http://www.hofferaward.com/
The 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards also announced their winners and finalists in late May, and The Perpetual Now was named a Finalist in the Cross Genre category, along with just 3 other novels! Complete list of finalists is here: https://www.indieexcellence.com/15th-annual-finalists
Last but not least were the IndieReader Discovery Awards, announced in early June. While The Perpetual Now — facing stiff competition in the Literary Fiction category — came away without any formal recognition, it was provided with a more-the-satisfying critical blurb:
Jerome J Bourgault’s THE PERPETUAL NOW is a gripping and very well-detailed story that stands on the intersection of science fiction, mystery, the supernatural, and a coming-of-age drama. Set in a small town in Canada, the characters are rendered with great care. A highly engrossing and very accessible read.
You can find a complete list of entrants from all categories here (my novel is on Page 8): https://indiereader.com/2021-discovery-awards-entrants/
Overall, not a bad haul for a first-timer! Now I just need to find space for all the stickers…
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of The Perpetual Now. At almost 450 pages, it was a pretty ambitious undertaking for a first attempt. It was also an intensely personal endeavour, one that required me to not only open doors that had been closed for a long, long time, but then to put a bright light on them for everyone to see. Not the easiest thing for an introvert, but somehow cathartic nevertheless.
The response thus far has been extremely gratifying, and I thank all of you who took the time to read it for your gracious support. When the novel came out I had already missed most of the submission deadlines for literary contests, though I did chalk up a nomination for Best Cross-Genre Fiction with the International Book Awards. In the coming weeks and months I’ll be hearing from close to a dozen such contests, and with a little luck, I just might find myself with a couple more stickers to put on the cover.
Meanwhile, I continue to plow ahead with the follow-up novel. It’s not a sequel, but it definitely lives in the same universe. The one positive thing to come out of the pandemic for me is that it’s given me time to write: progress has been encouraging, and now that I know what I’m doing I hope to finish the first draft by mid-year. Fingers crossed!My thanks again to my readers, to Tellwell Talent Ltd. for putting The Perpetual Now out there, to my brilliant editor, and to everyone who contributed – in great ways and small – to the process of making my novel a reality. If you haven’t yet read it, I encourage you to check out the reviews on chapters.indigo.ca (https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/…/9780228822820-item…); and if you have read it and have questions or comments, feel free to message me.
The weather is getting colder, daylight hours are getting shorter, and thanks to COVID nobody is going anywhere. Can you think of a better time to start a new project?
Earlier this month I officially began the first draft of what should be my 2nd novel. They say that getting started is the hardest part, and I can fully attest to that: since I opened the file 2 weeks ago, I’ve been mostly labouring over what amounts to four paragraphs. But at least I’m under way: I have a fairly clear path ahead of me, and give or take some bends in the road and all the unseen features that are bound to appear on my new narrative landscape, I have a sound idea of my final destination.
So what’s the book about? The brunt of the action takes place in a Québec orphanage between the years 1950 and 1959, a period known as La Grande Noirceur (the Great Darkness). This was an era dominated by the conservative regime of petty-despot and demagogue premiere Maurice Duplessis. During this time, thousands of orphans (often simply the children of unwed mothers pressured by the Catholic Church to relinquish custody) were falsely reclassified as medically ill by the Church and the provincial government in order to misappropriate federal subsidies. Already labeled as “children of sin” and now wrongly certified as mentally incompetent, the Orphans of Duplessis were regarded by many as sub-human: kept under appalling conditions, they were subjected to the worst kinds of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, to say nothing of damage done to them in the name of psychiatric treatment (experimental drugs, confinement, straight jackets, electroshock, and lobotomies).
The narrative will focus on a young nun whose life as a teacher takes a devastating turn when the orphanage she works in becomes a psychiatric hospital almost overnight, and her students (some very dear to her) are reclassified as patients.
The tragic story of the Duplessis Orphans gained headlines in the 1990s when a number of survivors fought to obtain appropriate compensation from the government of Québec and the Catholic religious communities responsible for the abuse. Sadly, few people outside of the province of Québec heard much about the Duplessis Orphans. This was possibly due in part to an equally tragic and similar story (namely the allegations of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland and the subsequent investigation, Royal Commission, and eventual settlement) that dominated the news in English Canada around the same time. For whatever reason, it is a story that remains largely unknown in English-speaking Canada.
I would never presume to take on the task of retelling and re-analysing the tragedy of the Duplessis Orphans, when it has already been done far more effectively that I ever could by dedicated researchers and victims’ advocates. What I hope to accomplish as a novelist, on the other hand, is to bring the story to light to many who may be unfamiliar with it, within the context of a well researched, deeply intimate, and ultimately very human work of fiction.
And for those who have asked, this novel will indeed occupy the same universe as The Perpetual Now, though probably without any significant element of the fantastic. It may not come up until the epilogue, but there will be a direct link between the characters and events of this story (in 1959) and those of 2006, as told in my first novel. That’s all I’m saying for now.
Let’s change the subject for just a moment. This isn’t something I have any expertise in, so I’m not going into much depth here. But as an admitted science geek with a weakness for infographics, I was immediately enthralled when I stumbled onto this thing of beauty and just had to share. It was exquisitely prepared by Beyond Words Studio (check them out!) for BBC Future. Any wonder why I love the BEEB!?!
It checks all the boxes for a good infographic: it’s informative, well researched, simple to comprehend, and attractive to look at. This one takes the temperature of the universe, showing what happens as temperatures increase.
It begins with the coldest temperature possible, which — if you remember your high school physics — is -273.15ºC or 0ºK, the point at which fundamental particles reach their minimal possible vibrational motion. In other words, everything stops. Remarkably, there is a living organism that can survive, albeit for only a few minutes, at nearly that temperature (-272ºC): the tardigrade, a near indestructible 8-legged micro-animal about 1 mm in length. Even more impressive is the fact that this same creature can survive the highest temperature among all living things: 151ºC.
The infographic also tells you the temperatures of astronomical objects, minimums and maximums on Earth, the hottest temperatures attained by everyday objects (my fave is the max temperature of the brake discs of a Formula One car: 750ºC), and what happens to various elements.
But the best factoid is saved for last. While I’ve known about Absolute cold, I’d never given thought to what Absolute hot would look like. This infographic provides the definitive answer: 142,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000ºC, also known as the Planck Temperature, the point above which conventional physics breaks down.
I feel very blessed of late!
First, on the heels of The Perpetual Now‘s nomination for an international book award (stickers just came in!), a flurry of 5-star reviews have recently appeared on Chapters.Indigo.ca:
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
Stephen King Vibe for Small Town Ontario
I have to say this is one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had in a long time. The story moves swiftly even in its exposition, is a great mix of normal life mixed with the supernatural, creates compelling, enjoyable and believable characters and plot lines, makes all kinds of fun pop culture references and even tackles some very important topics that are very relevant today. I can’t wait for his next novel!!
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
Genre-defying page turner
The Perpetual Now is a fantastic genre-defying page turner. Once I picked it up i could not put it down. Told from a unique perspective and endlessly imaginative, this is going to be one that I come back to. Must buy.
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
A great read!
This book was recommended, and I am so glad I gave it a chance. It is hard to believe that this is the author’s first novel. The mystery grabbed my attention and made me want to keep reading. The fantasy aspect was an unexpected surprise. The best part of this book was that I really wasn’t sure how the mystery and the fantasy were going to tie together. It kept me hooked and wanting to read more. As I got closer to the end, I was eager to find out more, and yet sad that it was coming to an end. The characters were so well developed, and I hated to say goodbye to them when I finished reading. When a book can make me laugh and cry all at the same time, I consider it a success. Can’t wait to read Mr. Bourgault’s next book.
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
A brilliantly crafted story
A captivating and original novel with elements of sci-fi and mystery that elegantly weaves in a glimpse into Canadian life in Northern Ontario through a cast of exciting characters.The Perpetual Now was a fun ride that I very much recommend.
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
An incredible read!
THE PERPETUAL NOW is a wonderful book that conquers the difficult task of blending notes of science fiction with complex character development. Everyone who reads this book will be able to find a character that they can relate to or a moment that resonates with them. Once you start reading you will not want to stop and once you have finished, you will just want to talk about the epilogue with other readers.
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
Really Interesting Multi-Genre Book
This book will appeal to both drama and mystery/suspense readers. It’s really unique and the descriptions of events and characters are well done. I actually finished it a few weeks ago, and I’m still thinking about one of the main characters, “Billie”. Well worth the read!
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
What a great read! Absorbing, moving, funny and at times, awe-inspiring, Jerome Bourgault has crafted a wonderful novel. Set in a fully-realized world, populated with a cast of fascinating characters, Bourgault takes his reader on a mesmerizing journey. A great achievement!
☆☆☆☆☆5 out of 5 stars.
There is a craft to Bourgault’s writing
The set up of the characters and the location was very captivating. Then the plot took over and I had a very hard time putting the book down. I loved the characters and the humour, as well as the fear and love that is very present too. There was one moment, where a realization was had that was so thoughtful and so sad, that I got emotional, though it also felt so right. Bourgault’s characterizations and descriptions made this story feel so real and I love his writing style. There is a craft to it which I rarely find while reading other authors’ books.
Other good news has come in the mail: my first-ever royalty cheque, and my Finalist stickers from the International Book Awards!
Finally, my two brand new book trailers have recently appeared on Youtube! Warm thanks to Josh Mogyoros for lending his voice and to the incomparable Sebastian Shinwell for the music!
So what’s next? Entry into the American Book Fest’s 17th Annual “Best Book” Awards. Deadline for submission is October 11th, with winners and finalists to be announced in mid-November. Previous winners include Clive Barker, Amy Tan, Bob Odenkirk, Julie Andrews, and Sue Grafton, to name just a few. And entry into at least 4 other competitions will be coming in the new year.
Finally, I’m thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to starting the first draft of my as-yet untitled follow-up novel. Second wave of COVID or not, it’s going to be an interesting fall.
American Book Fest has released the names and titles for the 2020 International Book Awards and The Perpetual Now was named as a finalist in the Cross Genre category!
As my young protagonist Justin Lambert would say: “HOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYSHIT!!!”
According to the press release “over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 90 categories.” Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest, said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from authors and publishers around the world, which were then narrowed down to the final results.
Keen says of the awards, “The 2020 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the world. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of IBA, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the second half of 2020.”
Keen adds, “IBA’s success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.”
At this point, I’m happy to say “Mission Accomplished”, and anything that comes after is gravy!
You see, the most exciting aspect for me in all this isn’t so much the potential impact on book sales (although it’s crossed my mind), or even the fact that the likes of Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, or Penguin Random House will be watching closely. Rather, it’s the unexpected honour of being included in the company of so many talented, successful and acclaimed authors in both mainstream and independent publishing, and the satisfaction of being acknowledged by established publishing professionals, individuals whose job it is to recognize excellence in writing. This is a huge leap forward and more than I could have dreamed of when I first set out… at least not before I had a few more books under my belt.
Not bad for someone who prior to this hadn’t published so much as a quiche recipe, huh?
[UPDATE: The winners have been announced and while I didn’t take the final prize, I remain delighted and honoured at having been short-listed! My congratulations to all the winners and thanks again to the selection committee!]
I’ll just let these speak for themselves…
5 Stars: Fabulous book – a unique reading experience!
It is not often that you come across a novel that so masterfully combines elements of mystery, science fiction, and the complexities of our own humanity. With a blend of humour, intelligence and compassion, Mr. Bourgault makes you fall in love with his characters – so much so that you don’t want to finish the book because you don’t want to let them go.
5 Stars: This book deserves your attention
The Perpetual Now is a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The story has so many layers and moves between different genres with ease. There are elements of a whodunnit mixed in with a coming of age topped off with some supernatural à-là-Stephen King vibe. The story is set in Ferguston, a small Northern Ontario city. The author provides a rich description of Ferguston and its residents through the eyes of our storyteller Justin, an exceptional twelve year old biracial boy. The story moves along at a good pace and is filled with unexpected events right up to the end. The Perpetual Now is a very satisfying read and recommend it to anyone. I look forward to reading more stories from this author.
Fantastic book from this Canadian first time author. You don’t realize how much you miss reading books that clearly occupy Canadian space until you have a great one in your hands.
Perfect mix of mystery and fantasy while still feeling rooted in a gritty, realistic small town. The characters felt fleshed out, and I was left guessing and surprised until the very last page. Seriously – what an epilogue!
This book is strikingly creative and intriguing. You are curious through each upcoming event of the book, and keep reading with full attention, and then Oupla complete surprise in its ending … while in afterthrough it is a very logical conclusion. You live between worlds, a new vision of our lived universe. It would make a very good television series (and the author could continue writing the series, Yay!)… or a film. J. Bourgault is a skilled writer, with a wonderful mastery of English and French. To be read for sure. [Goodreads]
5 Stars: A very compelling read!
This was a very compelling read. I especially enjoyed the character development and the intertwining of two story lines. The author makes excellent use of descriptive metaphors and the ending of the story is very well thought out.
4 Stars: Great story!
Well written coming of age story blending nostalgia, mystery, intrigue and fantasy. Perfect escapism from the crazy pandemic world!