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New novel built from imagination and childhood memories

Renowned author and part-time instructor at Mount Royal, Ken Rivard sees something special in how the University approaches education.

“Mount Royal has a mandate to accept people,” Rivard says. “That’s why I stay here.”

Renowned author and part-time instructor at Mount Royal, Ken Rivard releases tenth book, MOTHERWILD.
Photo by Michelle Bodnar

Believing deeply in the importance of second (and third, fourth, fifth and so on) chances, Rivard has been teaching mostly English upgrading courses, part-time, at Mount Royal for the past 11 years. With students who have mostly been out in the workforce few at least a few years before they appear in his classroom, Rivard appreciates how their life experience leads many to arrive with voracious appetites for learning.

Writing, says Rivard, is one of the most tangible first impressions a person can make.

“It can say a lot about the type of person you are.”

Writing well is imperative for also presenting yourself well through resumes and cover letters, and Rivard says it is his job to ensure his students have the skills to accomplish that.

Rivard’s own second (or third, fourth or fifth…) chance came when he moved to Calgary from Montreal for a fresh start 38 years ago, and he hasn’t left since. His newest book, MOTHERWILD, is his tenth and was recently released in Calgary on Oct. 2.

About a Montreal boy named Joey Cantell, MOTHERWILD explores Cantell’s comprehension of the people and places surrounding him, and also delves into the topic of chances both taken and not.

A recent review by Albertan author W. P. Kinsella reads: "In his 10th book, Ken Rivard shows himself to be a pro at capturing the realities of working-class humanity. MOTHERWILD is a work of beauty, a coming-of-age story and the eventual healing of a mother-son relationship. Rivard's writing is honest, refreshing, startling, imaginative and gets the reader emotionally involved. MOTHERWILD is a really good read!”

Renowned author and part-time instructor at Mount Royal, Ken Rivard's new novel, MOTHERWILD is now available.

The tools for good writing remain basically the same across all genres, but the topics and eventual execution can be infinite. To that point, on Oct. 22 from 4 to 5 p.m. at MRU’s Moot Court (EA1031) and presented by The Creative Writing & Events Consulting Group, The Department of English and Mount Royal University, Rivard will perform a reading of MOTHERWILD, to be followed up after with a discussion entitled “Is it easier to write by making stuff up or by telling the truth?” where people will have the opportunity to discuss where their stories come from.

An Oct. 30 reading from 7 to 10 p.m, will take place at Shelf Life Books in Calgary (1302- 4th Street S.W.).

Taking place over one year, Rivard says that MOTHERWILD was created mostly from his imagination and some from childhood memories.

“It’s about a teenage boy. He’s trying to figure out his mother, who likes to drink and is a little weird. And there’s a girl downstairs who’s a little older and is almost like his mother and he’s attracted to her,” he says.

“It’s a book about people trying to make sense of their lives … in a lot of the same ways that many at Mount Royal are trying to make sense of theirs. I think we all as human beings, try to do that all the time.”

Rivard finds some inspiration through his students, but says he doesn’t set out looking for that kind of fodder.
“It just happens, because they are human beings and I am always observing human behavior,” he explains.
Copies of MOTHERWILD will be available at the Oct. 22 event, as well as The BookStore and the Library. MOTHERWILD is also available online through publisher Thistledown Press.

More MOTHERWILD readings:

  • Thursday, Oct. 30 from 7 to 10 p.m, reading at Shelf Life Books in Calgary (1302- 4th Street S.W.).
  • Friday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. at Audrey's Books in Edmonton (10702 Jasper Ave N.W., Edmonton).

Oct. 22, 2014 — Michelle Bodnar