Thursday, July 18, 2024

Canadian author who enjoys unexpected popularity in Almonte to visit town for the first time

Author Lesley Choyce will visit Almonte on Nov. 15. – Submitted photo

You’re invited to “An Evening with Author Lesley Choyce at Mississippi Mills” at Almonte Public Library On Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Fans of the beloved fictional character John Alexander MacNeil can meet with author Lesley Choyce to celebrate the release of his latest book titled The Untimely Ressurection of John Alexander MacNeil. 

This event is presented as a collaboration with the Almonte Branch of Mississippi Mills Public Library and Mill Street Books, Almonte. The evening will provide an opportunity for interested readers to engage with Leslie Choyce and hear more about the new book, the creation process and more. There will also be a lively question and answer period. Choyce is also making stops to promote his novel in Montreal and Ottawa. 

The book in question is the highly-anticipated sequel to Choyce’s previous novel The Unlikely Redemption of John Alexander MacNeil, which became a hit among local readers in the town of Almonte. The book sold 700 copies since 2017 at local bookshop Mill Street Books, so it is safe to assume Choyce’s next book will also be appreciated by local readers. Although he works and resides in Nova Scotia, Lesley Choyce has unexpectedly touched the hearts of many readers within Almonte and he is excited to visit for himself soon.

Lanarkist had the pleasure of interviewing Lesley Choyce about his background, his inspiration for the new novel and his excitement about the event in Almonte.

Choyce confirmed that he has no affiliation personally to Almonte; however, he explained “​​I think that the support of a single bookseller can make all the difference in creating that important connection to readers. Now I (and John Alex) feel like honorary literary citizens of that fair town in a charming part of Ontario. When you’re big in Almonte, who cares about Toronto or New York.”

He noted that “it’s probably because of the people in and around Almonte that I wrote a second novel about this character. The folks at Mill Street Books were huge supporters. I had never been to Almonte and knew no one there so this interest prompted me to put the ‘gent’ back in print – 90 years old and still kicking hard against all that is wrong with the world and in a primal battle of his own with his own mortality.” 

Choyce started writing fiction in college at just 19 years old, and now has over 100 books in print.

“This latest one is number 103,” he shared. “The setting is Cape Breton Island, and the protagonist is a cranky old independent-minded feisty guy named John Alexander MacNeil. The story, I believe, is a wild ride, a romp, a dark adventure of sorts, a bit of Cape Breton humour married to South American magic realism and, I hope, a story from the heart.”

When asked about the positive reception for his previous novel in Almonte, Choyce said ”I’m curious to see if folks around Almonte still find John Alex the fascinating character he was when he was a mere 80 years old. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with those readers who were so supportive of me for the last book.” However, the author clarified that although John Alexander MacNeil is central to both stories, this latest novel is a standalone story and is not meant to be a sequel as such. 

Lesley Choyce is an established author and professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax in the Department of English. He has been fostering literary creativity in young minds for over 30 years at multiple universities, teaching both English and creative writing courses. His expertise within the field of literature is impressive and ever-growing. He is the author of over 96 books of literary fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction as well as young adult novels. 

In addition to writing novels, Choyce founded and now runs ‘Pottersfield Press,’ which has proudly published a wide range of Canadian authors. Choyce’s career accolades are plentiful. He has won a wide variety of awards for both his writing and teaching proficiency, including the Dartmouth Book Award, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, the Best Writer of Halifax by Coast Magazine, the Teaching Excellence Award for Dalhousie University and more. He confirmed to the Lanarkist that he’s recently finished a rough draft for a new novel, this time set in Yellowknife and Wolfville, Nova Scotia. 

Lesley Choyce said that he hopes this event will become “a lively informative session blending a talk/workshop on the craft of writing fiction from the inside out to readers and writers about everything under the sun related to imagination and creativity.”

The event is free to attend, although, guests are required to register in advance online at The library will be selling books at the event, available to purchase by e-transfer or cash. 

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