Writer, Lawyer, Farmer
White Snow Blackout:
Of Great Character:
1. What inspired your latest novel, Wheat Fields?
I wrote WHEAT FIELDS in order to tell what I thought was a compelling tale on human nature. The story is drawn from the hardships arising out of the last great depression. Life was filled with values gleaned from hardship and poverty.
Yet within this sometimes stark existence there developed a security in their own known world. “We may not have much but it is ours,” describes the ethic. Change, even change with hope for a better future, was viewed with suspicion. Thus, the introduction of mobile combine harvesters were seen as disruptive to the hard working life of the farm. Therein lies the fodder for compelling storytelling.
The book is really about the steady stream of opportunities that we have to connect with God, even in the hard times of our lives. Much as with the wheat farmers, the question arises as to whether we even recognize those opportunities to connect with God, or whether we are too occupied with temporal concerns to even notice them. But the real puzzle then is that God is a temporal concern living in our natural lives. Our preconditioning that God is supernatural may add difficulty to our reception to notice that god is there with us in the natural world.
2. How did it feel to be selected for the E.J. Lajeunesse Award being presented by the Essex County Historical Society?
I will receive the Lajeunesse award for significant contribution to history in October 2011. I am very grateful to win this award, and I am most appreciative of it. I am also surprised, because there are so many great contributors to history in the Essex Windsor region that I never considered myself to be a candidate for such an award.
Writing these books for me is a work of love. It goes to show though that if perform works of love, you never know the directions those works will lead you in.
Check out an Interview with Kim Hutchinson, from Our Windsor, about the award:
3. The novel deals with the effect of the purchasing of a new mobile harvest combine for a family farm during the Great Depression – how does farming equipment create social change in your novel?
Farm equipment, specifically the mobile combine harvester creates great social change in the novel. Before combines and tractors, family farms were constituted of large families, with eight or ten kids being commonplace. The kids along with the parents spent long days toiling on the farms. The work was so prevalent that the farm was actually the main place where lives were lived. The family worked there, socialized there, and played there. There was seldom disconnect from work.
The wheat harvest was no exception. It was a labour filled affair, wherein the wheat straw had to be cut and hauled to a threshing machine where the wheat was separated from the straw. Both were then again hauled away.
The combine stopped all of the haulage and much of the hand labour. The combine rolled through the standing wheat as it cut the straw, and separated the grain from it, in one operation. This meant ultimately that there were more kids on the farm than were needed there. Many therefore found jobs off the farms, causing great social changes. Fast growing cities, and reduced numbers of farmers are examples.
4. While the characters in your novel experience this social change, their experiences also present the question of how human beings find connection to a natural goodness, or higher power, and recognize its influence within our day-to-day lives – why did you feel it was important to write about this?
It is important to write about “how human beings find connection to a natural, or higher power – and recognize its influence within our day-to-day lives,” because life boils down to contests between good and evil. Each of us has that basic choice to make.
There are many complications in life and it can be difficult to maintain our focus, even once we have made a choice. We need the power of God with us. That power of God is available to us in our natural world. A simple example of it is when people connect the good in them with the good in others around them toward a positive purpose. This quickly becomes a culture of good, or God, with enormous opportunity to achieve those positive purposes.
5. What are your hopes for this novel in the future?
There is great possibility for this book to be told as a movie. It already has the attention of some filmmakers.
I also plan to engage a speaking tour, to meet and engage with the many good people in this country.
I hope to continue writing books on the theme of human interaction with Divine as a natural phenomenon. The actual subject matter will be varied. My next book is entitled OUR INSPIRATION JIM MAHON. It is about a hockey phenom who met with death at the age of nineteen. Yet his accomplishments as a truly good and caring person inspire still, even now, forty years after his death.
You may also access the books of Joseph Byrne at the following websites: