Recently, I read the book Bridges - A Tale of Niagara by dk LeVick. This excellent book tells the tale of five young men who set out on a perilous journey into the Niagara Gorge. I really enjoyed that the book mixed history and fiction together to bring the story alive, and Niagara Falls alive, too.
1. What inspired you to write this tale about five young men who decide to take on Niagara Falls and become a part of its history?
For that particular story – it came from the 'picture' itself. It’s one I seen in an antique shop almost 40 years ago and it started me thinking about it. At the same time I was writing about the 60’s, which was the most ‘changing’ decade in our history and the two came together. A combination of a Niagara few people know about coupled with the decade of the '60's which was the best and worse times of America. A decade when America was at its prime and its base. When young people thought everything had been done and there was nothing left for them to do, yet, next to the revolutionary era itself, it was the most revolutionary decade in American history.
2. The sides stories helped to breathe more life into the Falls. How did you come up with those?
Niagara is steeped in history and lore. People only think of the Falls themselves when they think of Niagara. I wanted to show people some of the history of Niagara. The events are true – the characters and stories came from my pen. There are so many more stories I wanted to write about but I thought four was enough. Anymore and it would have taken too much away from the central story. I also wanted to tie in some of the threads of the historical stories with the main story and these were appropriate. One I wrote but cut out was about the power plant collapsing.
3. Which of the five young men in the story do you relate to the most?
Kevin portrays a lot of my growing years in Western New York.
4. Over the centuries, Niagara Falls went from being discovered to becoming a major tourist attraction. Despite the change in the environment surrounding the Falls, what would you consider to be its timeless appeal?
The water. It’s magic. The roar – the mist – the smell – the gorge – everything. Niagara has an aura about it that captivates people, even now with all the commercialism and abuse its incurred over the years. Couple this with being in the right place at the right time when the country was beginning to open up in the early 1800’s for travel and tourism. Up to then it was still wilderness and adventure. When the Erie Canal opened bringing streams of people to Niagara’s doorstep from the East it transformed into the number one destination in America. Once established as a destination it grew in statue, then with Tesla and his alternating electricity generation – Niagara became a major industrial area as well (and the tug a war continued between industry and tourism).
5. Do you have any other works you've written or are in the process of writing now?
Absolutely! I’ve written some short stories recently that I’m preparing for publication soon and I’m working on my next novel. I’m fortunate and blessed that my ‘flame’ didn’t go out over the years and was able to be turned up, so as long as there’s breath in my body, words in my mind and feelings in my heart, I’ll find the means to write and hopefully, someone will want to read it.
Please vote for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official Bridges blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.
You can win a free paperback copy of Bridges: A Tale of Niagara by entering your name and email address on its official blog tour page. The winner of the give-away will be announced on Wednesday, June 29 – be sure to enter before then!
Being born and raised in the Niagara Frontier, I grew up on the Upper Niagara River and spent my formative years as a 'river rat', not in awe, but in fear of the mighty Cataract, viewing it as a threat to my Upper river escapades. More than once, myself and my fellow rates barely escaped the swift current while tubing down the river or fishing off of Navy Island in a rubber raft. The Falls was not to be marveled at or held in great esteem but were held in great fear and were to be avoided at all costs.
That perspective changed the first time I went down into the gorge below the Falls (during summer of course - I wasn't as crazy my 'boys' were to go in winter) and "discovered" the lower river. There, like Saul on the road to Damascus, I was overcome by the wonder of the river and consumed by the mystery of it.
I learned that there were actually two rivers, the "Upper Niagara" and the "Lower Niagara" which were as different as night is from day. One was an open spigot, empting out all the 'Great Lakes' in a roar and ravaging thunder - the other was life-force, cutting and craving across the earth, leaving a trail of history, raw beauty and attitude.
Born in Buffalo, raised in Riverside/Blackrock, it was only after returning from a tour of duty in Southeast Asia that I located to Niagara Falls and Lewiston. Living there for over forty years, my enchantment with 'Niagara' was expanded by touring, exploring and inhaling the joy of the 'Lower' river.
Much has been written about Niagara, most centered on the mighty 'Falls' itself, little on the Niagara Gorge and the 'Lower' river. Truly amazing, when one considers the extensive and exciting history that engulfs the entire 'Niagara Escarpment'. Focused on making a living for my family, I wrote for myself over the years. This story, now I give to you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have in writing it.
Living now in Michigan, my heart remains down in the gorge, watching - feeling - listening to the "words of the water". My prayer, like 'the hermit' is that I too can learn the lessons the water holds.