Brian Fawcett, a famous award-winning author, grew up in Prince George. He's written more than 20 books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and now lives in Toronto.
Fawcett returns to Prince George annually, and will be launching his latest book, The Last of the Lumbermen, about the very popular Prince George hockey team back in the 50s and 60s, at Art Space, above Books & Co., 1685 Third Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Fawcett's book Virtual Clearcut: Or, the Way Things Are in My Home Town won the Pearson Prize for non-fiction in 2004.
Fawcett, who still has family in Prince George, went to Connaught elementary. After it burned down, he went to King George V then off to the rebuilt Connaught Jr. high and then Prince George senior high.
Fawcett played baseball and minor hockey as he grew up.
When he was about 10 years old, the old arena collapsed. That was in the mid 50s.
"I was supposed to be there when the arena roof collapsed - an hour later I would have been underneath it, along with a bunch of other kids," said Fawcett. "I was due to play at 8:30 a.m. and we came down at about 7:15. I remember looking at the big pile of rubble thinking 'oh, geez'. I didn't play hockey for a couple of years because I was so frightened. A lot of things in The Last of the Lumbermen were taken from memory."
Fawcett moved to Vancouver when he was 22, after three years in the forest service, when decided he really needed to go to university. He was a charter student at Simon Fraser University.
"I flunked out of high school in Prince George because I wasn't paying attention," said Fawcett.
"When I was in my early 20s my brain turned on. I was one of those kids that never had a conflict about what I was going to be when I grew up. It actually happened in high school. A bunch of my friends killed a cat and hung it over the door of one of the teachers. I didn't go. I wrote a poem about it instead - a very bad poem, but the lights came on in my head - that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a writer. I had no idea what writers did or how they did it. And I didn't really believe I could do it so I figured the best place to learn was at university and I'm still learning. "
He lived in Vancouver for about 25 years, and then he was invited to be on a television show in Toronto called Imprint for TV Ontario. The show was about books.
"I took one look at the producer of the show and that was it - for both of us," said Fawcett. They fell in love. He never thought he would leave B.C.
Hartlea, 16, is Fawcett's rep hockey playing daughter who, on her last visit to Prince George, got to ride on a Ford tractor. She's named after Fawcett's dad, Hartley, who owned Rose's Ice Cream at Second and Dominion and used to make ice cream and soft drinks.
"I can still walk the streets in Prince George and recognize people but it's usually not who I'm thinking of, it's usually their son or daughter," said Fawcett. "Most of the books I've published have been about Prince George."
Including his latest book, The Last of the Lumbermen.
First draft was written in the mid 90s then recently, as he spent many hours in hockey arenas supporting his daughter, he rewrote the book .
"It's a pretty good book," said Fawcet. "It brought me back to hockey in a good way. I've been blessed with many good editors and the one I have now it the best I've ever had. The real trick is to get the story right. It's a pretty sweet book. I've been doing non-fiction for most of the last 20 years and I've wanted to write a book in which things turned out right in the end. So people actually get to see what's going on around them when they make changes and that was a really fun exercise to do. It's sort of like half Slap Shot and, well, I'm not sure what the other half is. There's a lot of slapstick. I think when you grow up in a small town you develop a sense of slapstick that people in big cities don't necessarily have, so I let all this go wild in this book, so there's a lot of laughs in it. The first thing I want is for people to have a good time with the book. I'd also like them to get a sense that life could be better than it is and there's a lot in this book about taking responsibility for your own life and your own environment. "
The book is centered around hockey.
"And there are some great scenes in the Columbus Hotel, too," laughed Fawcett. "I'm sort of incapable of making anything up. When you're writing a novel you're pulling your characters out of real life. When I finished the book I realized one of the characters s based on Frank Peebles (Citizen reporter) - except my character went through junior hockey, was really good and got signed by the New York Rangers and all that time I had Frank Peebles in my head."
Fawcett takes about a decade to complete a book. He gets six or seven books on the go and works on each one until he gets stuck. Then he shifts over to another one, and while those are going he does journalism or writes speeches.
"I'm basically a guy who writes books about Prince George even though I don't live there any more," said Fawcett.