The Winston Churchill statue that stands in front of the Spring Garden Road library is a Halifax institution. Forever fixed mid-pace, the great leader frowns and guards the library's path.
Stephanie Domet describes the statue as "calming and encouraging."
It's fitting, then, that the library is where much of Domet's new novel Homing takes place. In the book, Churchill is often joined in his pacing by Nathan, a lost ghost who spends his days wandering the library's grounds.
Homing is about "love, death and rock and roll," says Domet. "I think all good novels should have a little of all of those."
It's also about house-bound gourmet chef Leah, and her mathematically inclined dead brother, the ghost. And pigeons, and a dirty-underpants-wearing musician named Henry, and a heaven that has rummoli and meatballs.
While Homing is technically Domet's second novel to be published, it's the first to appear in book form. Her first novel, Pawnshop Blues, appeared serially last year in this publication's bottomwriting. Domet, 36, is something of a Halifax institution herself. Originally from Mississauga, Domet has spent her 11 years in Halifax showcasing the city's authors in a variety of reading series.
You might also be familiar with her work as a journalist. Domet has been hosting Mainstreet on CBC radio since April 2 and Atlantic Airwaves since January. She has frequently contributed to the Daily News and Quill and Quire and did a six-year stint at The Coast, four as managing editor, leaving in 2002.
The author began crafting Homing, a Haligonian novel, in 2003, while living in Winnipeg, where she'd gone to work on CBC's Definitely Not the Opera. When she found out about National Novel Writing Month, an informal event that encourages participants to write an entire 50,000-word novel in November, she was inspired. Domet pitched an ambitious month-long story to DNTO—she would take part in the event, and chronicle her novel's progress each week on the radio.
The show went for it. "I was like "Oh, awesome, they love my story...aw, now I have to write a novel,'" she says.
She was also homesick. "I missed being on a peninsula. I missed the ocean like crazy. I missed the smallness and the little houses and my friends. Homing was a way for me to just be in Halifax...because I could just be there in my imagination all the time."
A self-described procrastinator, Domet finished the first draft of Homing at 11:30pm on the last day of National Novel Writing Month.
Domet eventually returned to Halifax, her "true home," polishing Homing occasionally. In summer 2006, publisher Robbie MacGregor started going to Domet's house for Saturday visits and strawberries. Eight months later, Homing was finished, published and is soon to be available across Canada.
Domet also married musician Kev Corbett during those eight months. And started hosting two radio shows. And did a major home renovation. She thrives on multi-tasking.
"I've always juggled and I find it exhausting but really quite exhilarating—it's what keeps me really interested in the world," she says.
Homing is one of the first publications—the other is the anthology Transits, released in April—from MacGregor's new Invisible Publishing, a company geared toward helping emerging authors find exposure. MacGregor had heard Domet read her work, but hadn't actually seen a finished copy of Homing when he offered to publish it though Invisible.
"Someone will eventually make this a book," he remembers thinking. He wanted to be that person. "She's the kind of character who appeals to me," MacGregor says. "She's somebody people can immediately relate to. And that comes through in her writing."
Domet has already started brainstorming for her next novel. Lately she's been drawing inspiration from people who piss her off. "People are on notice: don't be mean to me," she says. "I'm making notes."
Homing launch w/Kev Corbett, Thu May 17 at the Seahorse, 1659 Argyle, 7pm.