I have taken a break from writing fiction over the past few months to concentrate on writing a paper on a history of my hometown of Raymond, Alberta, and the surrounding area. Every town has a story, of course, but the little prairie town of Raymond is special to me because it's where I grew up and where I continue to live. My wife and I raised our children here and have many special friends. When the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond" was at the height of its popularity, T-shirts with the logo on it began popping up around town. A bit egocentric, yes, but it was always worth a chuckle to see our community pride manifest on what appeared to be an international level.
Something I have discovered is how my love for my home town has crept into my writing. I have written at least three novels that are set in a fictional town named Reunion, which I realize is really Raymond. And locals who have read the novels have come up to me and indicated they recognized Raymond as the setting. I have even written and performed three songs about Raymond, Alberta. The songs fit in perfectly with the curriculum at the elementary school where I taught for twenty-five years. It was rewarding to teach the songs to my students and then go "on tour" and share them with the other classes in the school.
So whether it's writing books or writing songs, I have been significantly influenced by my roots. And the research paper I just finished has reminded me of just how much of a small-town prairie boy I am and will remain. You may take the boy out of the town, but . . .