“The Nine Lives of Travis Keating” – my first children’s book – is set in northern Newfoundland. My family lived there for three years. When I visited them, I went hiking and canoeing, traveled the bays and shoreline by boat, skidooed in winter, drove to hockey practices at the rink, and met their friends. So once I started thinking about the book, I knew right away I wanted Travis to live in that area – although none of the communities mentioned in the book actually exist, other than in my head.
Last month, I stayed for a few days in the community of Quirpon, and then in the lighthouse keeper’s house on Quirpon Island – the most northerly point in Newfoundland. It was a great trip. While I was there, I started making a few notes for my third children’s book – more about that later, as well as about the second book!
I took a lot of photos on this trip with my brand-new digital camera. I’m posting a few that relate to Travis’s adventures: pictures of old fish shacks like the ones in Gulley Cove, and of cliffs similar to those on the way to the cove. There’s one shot of the barrens, the kind of landscape around the community of Ratchet where Travis lives. The oddly shaped trees on the hillside, shaped by the sea winds, are called tuckamore. A dead tree, white like a skeleton, points the way to Gulley Cove; I’ve even included a photo of a knot because Abe, a character in the book, teaches Travis how to tie knots.
My imagination has always been fed by Newfoundland’s rugged, often dangerous, coastline and by the barrens, where you can see so much of the sky. I hope you get a sense of this landscape when you read “The Nine Lives of Travis Keating.”