Thursday, December 6, 2007

Whale Song by Cheryl Kaye Tardif


Why did you pick the setting you used in your story?
When the plot for Whale Song hit me in early 2001, I knew it featured killer whales, and so Canada's west coast was the most obvious setting. The setting for Whale Song came naturally to me since I had spent many years living on islands or near the ocean. I grew up on the Queen Charlotte Islands, north of Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. The Charlottes are rich with native folklore and culture, and wilderness filled with plants, trees and animals. It is an isolated region of Canada, cut off from the rest of the country and not easy to get to. But I didn't want the story set there. I needed an area that had a marine station and was surprised to stumble across one in my research. It was at Bamfield on Vancouver Island. And, viola! My setting presented itself to me.

What does the setting add to the story?
Having Whale Song set on Vancouver Island allowed me to showcase a beautiful part of Canada to the world, and a remote town that few know about. I needed the isolation for the story to work. The actual setting keeps the story real and gives the reader a sense of wonder and hardship. Bamfield is a small town nestled near the water at the northwest end of Vancouver Island. It is actually divided in half by an inlet. Bamfield was the original home of the Huu-Ay-Aht First Nations. The First Nations people (referred to as 'Indians' in the late 70's) reside in the general area, contributing cultural events, art, music and stories. The wildlife is abundant--birds, deer and more. Fishing is an important industry. The marine station there is popular as a field trip event for high school student in Western Canada. All of these aspects add to the unique 'flavor' of Whale Song.

Could you write the same story in a different setting?
I did have one fan ask me why I didn't set the story in Emdonton, Alberta, where I live now. Ok, well, this is prairie country...no oceans...no killer whales. West Edmonton Mall just won't cut it! :)

Is there anything else about your setting that we need to know?
Although I use the actual town of Bamfield, plus Victoria and Vancouver, BC, as settings, some of my description is fictional. For my story to work, I needed certain things, and it's amazing what the mind can create. This setting was perfect for Whale Song. Many people have emailed me, telling me how they could picture everything so clearly, from Sarah's new home, to the bay to the town. Some of them had never been to that part of Canada, but they want to now. :)

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of the bestselling novel Whale Song
(a bestseller in Canada and the US)

1 comment:

Pelagia said...

You write very well.