Story and Photos by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Author Marty Chan was in Morinville Friday night as part of the Morinville Public Library’s Centennial Author Talk Series. Chan, who grew up in Morinville, spoke about his latest book Barnabas Bigfoot: A Close Shave and signed copies of this and other works for fans both young and old.
About 75 adults and children attended the event, each enjoying Chan’s ability to spin a yarn both new and old. The author spent an hour talking about Bigfoot, Sasquatch and other global variations on the theme as well as their relevance to his novel, which was officially launched in Morinville.
The children’s novel tells the story of a young Sasquatch named Barnabas Bigfoot who has very small feet for a Sasquatch. However, having small feet is the least of Barnabas’ worries when a mad scientist believes the cure to male baldness lies in Bigfoot fur and sets out to capture the young mythological creature.
While Barnabas’ story is fiction, the story of how the story came to be is not. Chan shared that tale with his audience. The author explained the story started when he was talking about writing to some students in Barrhead. The students challenged the writer to show them how easy it was to come up with a story.
“I asked for a character, a location and an item,” Chan said. “All the kids got together and they pooled their ideas, and they took their top three choices. The character they gave me was a Sasquatch. The object they gave me were two celery sticks tied together into a pair of nunchuks. And the location they gave me was a blizzard. Based on that, I had to come up with a story. Right away I had this image of bigfoot lost in a blizzard trying to find a safe place to go.”
Four years later and Barnabas Bigfoot hit store and library shelves, the first in a new children’s series that Chan has already some concrete future plans for, including pitting his titular character against the mythical chupacabra.
The writer said he wants to introduce a different mythical monster or creature into each of the books in the series.
Further thoughts on writing
Children and their parents were not the only ones to benefit from Chan’s expertise on crafting a story. The author teamed up with fellow writer Jessica Kluthe to put on a writer’s workshop Friday evening, an event that was attended by more than two dozen local would be writers. The workshop was put on by the Writers Guild of Alberta and hosted by the library. Both of Friday’s events were in recognition of Alberta Arts Days.