Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Uncharacteristic Behaviour" Second Novel Published

And so I've published my second novel, an urban mystery, "Uncharacteristic Behaviour".  The idea for this book has been with me for a very long time.

Decades ago, in Sydney, there was a huge public protest against the demolition of some fine Victorian houses in Potts Point, to make way for a monster (it seemed then) apartment building. People chained themselves to railings, squatted in the few vacated houses, crowds clashed with police, and there was even a strong suggestion that one woman activist, who disappeared at the time, had come to a violent end.

At the time, caught up in my own life, trying to raise three children as a single mother and hold down a fairly demanding job at the ABC, I spent little time considering the seriousness of the situation. I hated what I heard on the news, was fired up from afar (in fact, I lived quite close by), but did not become involved. These were passionate, radical, somewhat intimidating people, these "counter-culture" activists, and I was a closet protester, safe in my own world.

Needless to say, the houses came down, and the apartment (which I later lived in!) went up, and stands today, a monument to urban developers everywhere.

Then, not too long after, strange as it seems, I found myself living in an apartment house in Toronto on a street where the same thing was happening! People chained themselves to the railings, squatted in empty houses, angrily gathered and marched with their placards. It was deja vu. 

In fact, this was a long term battle that had really started in the 60s. It took a long time to redevelop an area as large as this one. That earlier complex is still considered the largest redevelopment of its kind in North America, housing between 17,000 and 25,000 (nobody knows for sure...) residents.  By the time I was there, the developers were buying up and demolishing beautiful historic houses on the south side of my street, and the protests continued. With the help of a major civic activist, who went on to become the Mayor of Toronto (which campaign I did get involved with), the new high rise expansion was cancelled. Housing co-operatives were later built on the sites of the demolished houses.

My novel only involves one small street. The word "gentrification" applies to it because the planners' idea was to make the area more up-market, more refined, classier...whatever. This certainly doesn't describe the Toronto apartment complex, although the Sydney apartment building is apparently desirable, even if only for the spectacular views, I think. But the rest of the street probably looks much the same as it did in the 1900s - minus a few fine old terrace houses, of course.

I'm getting too old  to be running around the streets with banners and placards. Writing Letters to the Editor is no longer the way to go. So what did I do to voice my feelings about frivolous destruction of historic buildings? I wrote a novel.

Paperback at Lulu now, but shortly at Amazon, and there is an eBook, if you dislike too much commitment.

No comments: