Guest Author Alison DeLory

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome author Alison DeLory to my blog. Alison has written a special post to commemorate Canada Day 2019 and talk about her newly published book, Making it Home.  So without further ado, here’s Alison.

 

Like many of you, I’ve been uplifted by stories in the news in the past week about Syrian-Canadians graduating from high school—like Batoul Hadhad, the daughter of Peace by Chocolate owners in Antigonish, N.S., and the three Hendawi brothers in Shelburne, N.S. They all came to Canada as teenagers who knew no English and who had missed years of schooling in Syria because of the war there. Once arriving in Canada, they worked hard to recover their lost education and create future opportunities for themselves.

Certainly as we acknowledge Canada Day, many of us proudly think about how our great country makes space for refugees and other immigrants. Yes, Canada should be celebrated for this, but let’s not forget to also acknowledge all that Canada gains, too, from welcoming newcomers. The benefit is two-way. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have come to Canada in the most recent wave have already contributed to the Canada economically and culturally, plus in less measurable but equally (or more) important ways, like expanding our capacity for empathy.

My new novel Making it Home (Nimbus 2019) tells this particular migration story from both angles. While it’s been documented through news stories, I wrote it through a fictional lens. I drew heavily on actual events that took place between 2014 and 2016 as loss of industry was forcing young people off Cape Breton Island, as Alberta’s economic boom began to bust, and as people spilled out of Middle Eastern refugee camps into variously tragic and hopeful circumstances. But fiction allowed me to delve deeper into the lives of imagined people most directly involved in these events.

I wrote the opening scene, involving a mass beaching of pilot whales in Cape Breton, as an assignment for a writing class I was taking in 2015. Once drafted, I thought about the symbolism of the whales, and how they could be a metaphor for being thrown out of one’s natural environment and feeling displaced. Pushing them back into the ocean was a community (epitomized by one family) struggling with an economic imperative to leave Cape Breton, and a desire for things to stay as they were. I saw the potential in the story and kept writing.

A second story line transports readers to Syria where they meet a family forced to flee Aleppo as bombs drop around them. The two families’ situations are on the surface quite different: one is a white, Christian family living in a sleepy rural Nova Scotian village, the other is an Arabic-speaking Syrian Muslim family whose lives are at risk. But at their core the two families are more alike than they seem. Like families the world-over, both share common desires for security, comfort, work and belonging. I wrote this book to discover how these particular characters could affect and possibly help one another heal.

These two parallel migration stories highlight how similar people’s plights are despite their cultural differences. And connecting the stories is the common thread of searching for home. I hope this novel gives readers an opportunity to consider our shared need for home—not only the physical place, but where we feel most secure, valued and ourselves—and to what lengths and distances the desire for home will take people. This journey toward ‘home’ can be physical or emotional, and helping others find their ‘home’ may allow our best selves to emerge.

 Thank you Alison for sharing this with us. I really enjoyed reading about what inspired you to write you book. I’m looking forward to reading it . All the best as you go forward.

 Alison DeLory is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Halifax, currently working at the University of King’s College. She has been writing stories for newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms for 20 years. She’s also written two children’s chapter books and contributed to several anthologies. Making it Home is her first novel.

Making it Home is available now on Amazon, Chapters and bookstores near you.

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