The filmmaker and recent novelist answers 10-ish questions.
What started off as a feature film script six years ago has been developed into a complete novel, Mundy Pond, published by the Creative Book Publishers’ imprint Killick Press. The book follows two boys as they go through a turning point in their lives in the summer of 1978.
The Mundy Pond of the late 70s was a special place for Roger Maunder, who grew up there.
“There were the hard tickets and the hearts of gold,” he says. “It was the perfect place for a kid to follow his imagination, and create any kind of world that he wanted to create.”
“It’s totally a work of fiction,” he says, “but I knew what all the area was like back then.”
Used to working in film, putting the novel together was an unusual experience for him.
“Films are a huge team effort aiming toward the one goal,” Maunder says, “but when you’re writing a novel, it’s really just you in front of a computer trying to imagine all this and put it on the page.”
Mundy Pond will be officially launched on Tuesday, May 29 at the LSPU Hall. 7-9pm
What is your current obsession?
My children. For sure. I just had a little baby girl, Clare, who is 8 months old.
And I also recently bought the new Joel Plaskett CD, which I listen to constantly. [laugh]
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
“Peace, love and understanding,” to quote Elvis Costello.
What super-power do you secretly possess?
…You know, I’ve never told anyone before except for my partner Colleen, but there’s times that I—and I don’t know if everybody has this, or if everyone will think I’m a nut—but every once in a while I get this godawful feeling in my stomach and my bones. The first time I got it, I was like “What is it?” and it turns out somebody close to us had passed away.
So every time I get that feeling now, I tell my wife I think someone has just passed away or is going to. And it seems like it happens. Which is very bizarre.
…It’s only happened around three or four times in my life, but I remember the first time was someone really close.
But there are people dying all the time, so I don’t know how much of a super power it is.
What is your principal defect?
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound of when my kids call me “Dad” or “Daddy.” Especially now that my little girl is starting to say the word “Dada.” It’s a miracle.
What sound or noise do you despise?
A vacuum or a lawn mower too early in the morning. …That and screaming. Screaming drives me right up the wall. Screaming doesn’t get anybody anywhere.
What job other that your own would you like to attempt?
…Maybe a newscaster.
I was going to say politician, but that’s probably one of the jobs that I would not want to do. All kinds of screaming going on with that, whether it’d be other politicians or your constituents.
What job would you not like to do?
You know, I washed windows for ten years, hanging off buildings on ropes. Did that for too long. I was doing that to finance some of the movies that I was doing here and in Toronto.
The buildings are a lot higher in Toronto, so I never want to do that again.
But hey, you never know! I might be calling up my old boss next year asking for a job.
Where (other than Newfoundland or Labrador) would you like to live?
I can’t see myself living anywhere but Newfoundland… But I went over to Ireland a couple of years ago and liked that, so maybe Ireland.
…Somebody really needs to invent a teleporter machine.
How would you like to die?
With everybody else. [laugh]
Roger Maunder’s Mundy Pond is set during the summer holidays, but the story unfolds at a faster pace. Set in the community of Mundy Pond, Newfoundland in 1978, this is a grittier novel that also creates sympathetic characters for young readers to engage with. At its heart are eleven-year-old Gordie McAllister and his twelve-year-old friend Jimmy Birmingham. The novel highlights both the simple childhood interests of these friends, and the stern realities that each must face. Against a summer back of baseball games, bike-riding, and games of hide-and-seek, the boys face serious struggles. This is not an idyllic depiction of childhood, and Maunder captures with terrifying reality the very genuine fears some children must face. Gordie has a comfortable home and two loving parents, but must deal with the impact of his father’s infidelity on the family, and the uncertainty of whether his parents will be able to put their marriage back together.
Jimmy, a boy who has developed a tough exterior in response to his extremely abusive father, has an even more heart-wrenching story. Although Jimmy is fearless in the face of his peers, he must stand by helpless as he repeatedly witnesses his father abuse his mother. Although he can tackle any bully his own age, Jimmy is powerless against his father Randal who “was familiar to all the kids that played on the street. Everyone knew who he was and they were all frightened to death of him. . . . They all knew Randal Birmingham was nasty. And they all knew he was Jimmy’s dad.” Disturbingly, the reader begins to witness a growing similarity between father and son. As one character observes, “‘Little Jimmy’s got more of his mother in him, though there are times I can spot the father. Just a glimpse but I see it.’”
Jimmy’s story moves towards a dramatic climax that raises some complex questions about justice and morality. The conclusion of Maunder’s novel is sure to provoke debate, and will be of interest to those concerned with the ways in which children’s literature grapples with issues of power, authority, victimization, and revenge. From Jimmy’s abuse by his father, to Gordie’s first kiss from a girl, Maunder writes a compelling novel about two boys growing up quickly, and explores the ways in which childhood experience can help determine the kind of adult that one becomes. Neither Mud Girl nor Mundy’s Pond idealises adolescence, but each depicts the ways in which sympathetic young characters attempt to gain some measure of control over the world around them.
Elizabeth A. Galway – CanadianLiterature.ca
“Set in the heart of St. John’s in the late 1970s, Mundy Pond is a story that is at once heartbreaking and hopeful, where the compassion of friends and the freedom of imagining become pillars of strength in uncertain times.”
Ashley Colombe – Downhome Magazine
“Here is a story that will break your heart; full of details so richly rendered they soar off the page. Maunder captures childhood with the searing focused power of a beam of sunlight through a magnifying glass.”
Lisa Moore – Two-time Giller Prize nominee
“Maunder has turned his hand from filmmaking to fiction and writes convincingly of a young man’s journey from innocence to experience.”
Leo Furey – Author of The Long Run
“Roger Maunder has written a novel which vividly captures the innocence of childhood in 1970’s Newfoundland and the dark reality of growing up and growing aware.”
JodiG – TeensReadToo.com
To order, contact Roger Maunder