On December 18, The Vancouver Sun published a Q&A with Glenn Sigurdson, exploring the writing process behind Vikings on a Prairie Ocean, and the relationship between his family history, memories, and lifetime career.
Such questions include:
Q: What inspired you to write the book?
A: Like Bilbo in the Hobbit, this journey began innocently with a BlackBerry on long airplane rides. The storybook memories I had known as a boy growing up in a legendary fishing family on Lake Winnipeg brought laughter or tears: those movies of the mind were my comfort food. I became enamoured with the idea of capturing some of the incredible places and characters, bringing back the life and times as I had known in my youth. Then, as long journeys are want to do, I stumbled forward, and kept on stumbling for over a decade. I never started out to write a book. The book found me. And it was helping me describe my “mysterious and elusive” calling in new words and ways, which I hope will be more accessible, and with that more, compelling.
Q: Vikings on a Prairie Ocean interweaves the history of Lake Winnipeg and Icelanders with your own family’s journey and your career path. Can you tell us about the writing process involved in shaping a book of this complexity?
A: It was perplexing — like putting a jigsaw puzzle together while the number of pieces kept growing. At first, I became concerned that my sketches were painting these people so very important to my life as caricatures. I felt compelled to explain them in the context of their life and times. I found myself opening the window on a unique slice of Canadian history. Did you know that the Icelanders were given an “Icelandic reserve” complete with an Icelandic agent along the western shore of Lake Winnipeg in 1875, the same year as Treaty 5 was concluded with the Cree and Ojibway on the east shore? Or that these poor sheep farmers, soon to become fishermen, developed their own constitution and a newspaper in 1877, amid near starvation and smallpox, snow and mosquitoes? The more I wrote, and researched, the richer the history I discovered.