“The Quiet City”, Behind the Scenes of a novel

Having done many years of work in bands and filmmaking projects, I love the idea of sharing the journey of a project. The art is how it’s jumbled together and smoothed into a work, but this is the slow moving factory. With something like this, set in actual history with fiction trying to run through it, it’s going to be huge. You have to return to your own notes regularly to keep it connected. You are connecting dots well outside of the storyline.

The scope of the full timeline starts in the 1880s and ends as recent as tomorrow. That’s a big factory floor.

Telegraph Bay, 1900

This was one of the reasons that The Quiet City had an earlier start approximately seven years back. At the time I was working as a cleaner and going to Uvic writing full time. One of the inspirations was being in some of those buildings like the Dunsmuir’s summer home that became the Fort Rodd Hill administration building. I also lived about a ten minute walk from this…

I wanted to include some of my favorite things about early Victoria such as the Victoria and Sidney Railway, the streetcars now gone with only slight remnants of their existence remaining as well as the birth of my own corner of town…Cook Street Village.

With about ten places to get coffee in two and a half blocks, Cook Street is a popular chill out part of Greater Victoria but before about 1909 it was a marshy dairy pasture to quote painter and writer Emily Carr. Incidentally Emily doesn’t make a personal appearance but she gets involved in the story along with a person who deserves a movie of his own…Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

Anyways with these in mind the story was set in partly 1910 which set me off to every place that I could go, besides online to see and hear what it was like back then here…

Fort Street near Douglas. Yeah, I’m in the new Tim’s.

The image pictured about is at the Heritage Room of the Greater Victoria Public Library where I spent most time, but also the archives near the Museum where part of the story now takes place along with Victoria Archives, Saanich Archives and Sidney as well as the Royal BC Museum.

Back years ago I actually stopped to work on something else as I wanted this to have more time to actually focus on it. I want to make the details as accurate as possible as the stranger fiction needs a firm support. Not only that but it is fun to get the details. I was so excited by the Betty Bell’s book “This Fair land, Saanich” which goes into life in the Saanich Peninsula in fine detail as she lived there. That photo of myself reading is in the local history room (aforementioned Heritage Room) where so many treasures are hidden.

Even just wandering around Victoria can get your imagination going, whether it’s trying to find the hidden tunnels under the city or looking at houses in Fairfield.

There have been lots of little parts of the story that have been either created or effected by the research outside of just the setting which was of course very different and more languid than today’s pace.

Fitting in this perfectly was the often late Victoria and Sidney Railway that was that way due to its often late ferry connection, the Iroquois that could take you from the Pier in Sidney to Nanaimo.

Sadly this boat met its end a little ways after 1911 which didn’t help business for the Victoria and Sidney either, a train so underpowered that when it climbed northbound through Royal Oak towards Elk Lake, passengers could jump off, grab a beer from the nearby pub and hop back on without missing a beat.

But of course history was about more than just locations. There’s details on current events, fashion, and what it was like to live back then.

Above is a modern Government Street, but back then this wasn’t just the actual main drag, but actually the oldest street in Western Canada. If you wanted it, it was here with government offices on the west side of the road (your Post Office) and your green grocers, stores and pubs on the east side. The Brown Jug was a particularly famous one on the corner of Government and Fort, now a jewelry store.

And of course, the aforementioned world of paranormal and my very evil special guest, Jack the Ripper.

The legend and mystery of Jack and the canonical five victims has also been a major part of the story, so it naturally lead to going over any books and videos I could get my hands on. My take on the Ripper is very different from what’s been before and specific to this story so, without giving too much away I had to research some other things to compliment this.

Anyways that’s about it for now.

Thank you for reading and please follow so you can catch the next entry on the creation of this historical thriller. And definitely check out the writer page here at tompogson.com to see my other work, along with my music projects such as Cookeilidh.

Cheers!

Tom Pogson

Introducing “The Quiet City”

One day the world’s greatest killer came to town
Things would have to change.
When you’re Jack the Ripper in 1910 Victoria, British Columbia, you can easily stand out.

Such is the book project that I have been working on now solidly since spring of 2019, with the original idea for its historical fiction originating almost ten years back. It will be my first major project since being a writer on the Telus Optik webseries Ollie and Emma.

The Quiet City initially began as just a murder mystery set where my Mom use to work in the Vital Statistics offices of the Victoria Legislative Buildings West Annex. It was also first inspired by living in the heart of town and working as a cleaner in a variety of heritage buildings all over the Capitol Region. Was also a University of Victoria writing student at the time and been also playing with the idea of screenwriting at the time.

It didn’t hurt that my Grandfather, my Dad and now myself have an absolute love of going over what use to be where. My grandfather, Roy Pogson, was pretty much the head of BC Hydro on Vancouver Island and my Dad Jim was a service planner so not only did I get to see lots of new developing subdivisions as kid but I early on about the trains and streetcars that served Greater Victoria.

I don’t know exactly when I started humoring the idea of bringing in the more supernatural elements and Jack but once I did the floodgates just opened.

Not only was the rumor of Jack the Ripper in Victoria an actual theory based on a tragic and horrible murder of a 44 year old baker named Agnes Bing on the night of September 22, 1899, but the more I dug into strange things about Victoria the more it gave back.

It is Victoria’s paradox of being both this “more English than the English” (it’s background is actually Native, Scottish, French Canadian…the only Brit was Richard Blanshard who bailed instantly and died on the way home…anyways…) small town but it is also the second most active Satanic community in the world after Geneva with a thriving Wiccan community. We have secret tunnels, a Forbidden City, Michelle Remembers and above it all its a city that markets itself as quaint when it can be as quietly rough and tough as the worst of them. And it’s beautiful. And if was the other side of the world from the heart of the Commonwealth with Government Street as the oldest street in Western Canada. I love Victoria but it is a fascinating city of various types and contradictions all stuffed into the same community from the Malahat to the Ferries. It’s creative as hell, the center of seven First Nation bands, it’s the capital and a Naval base and a cruise ship destination.

Oh yeah and when it comes to spirits, legends and lore it continues to unfold.

For ghost activity, we are pretty much Woodstock.

This is the key reason why I’ve taken so long at this book of historical fiction which aims to be in both 1910 and present day. Being that I knew I would be taking huge liberties with actual history I have been spending just months on research as well on the more natural writerly challenge of characterization. Both of these have influenced the plot and continue to as I build the tracks in front of my train. Obviously some facts change but my job one is to be able to drop you the reader back into the sight, the sound and the pace of our city just after the turn of the century.

My goal is to have this out by summer of 2020 with some teasers and things before hand.

There is some social media for The Quiet City already which has more details…

http://facebook.com/thequietcitynovel

http://instagram.com/thequietcitynovel

http://twitter.com/thequietcity1

I will be updating here regularly as well as on those platforms so please follow and check back! Also check my “Writer” page for more about my other work!

I can’t wait to share more if this adventure with you!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Thank you for taking the time to read and support independent artists!

🙂

Tom Tom’s 👍 (Check out now… Part 1)

I know that Hayden did come to Victoria ages back as the friend who got me listening saw him here.

Makes me wonder if he got the name from Elk Lake which everyone passes on their way to Victoria.

Anyways…

Starting this series off is an older album that is so worth it I worked at a cafe that had it as required listening for when things got stressful. It is so superchill, well crafted and has still wonderful hooks that stay with you.

Start here and dive into Hayden’s discography that you may not have heard but really should…

Lifetime of Learning

We like to be surprised. If you think of the last YouTube video you watched or online platform you used outside of WordPress (or perhaps within it) the best part was without question when you became enraptured by something.

Why is that?

Why watch a YouTube video of a cat missing a jump and falling out of shot like a cartoon.

I still get caught by those cats, or Simon’s cat.

There was the “double bounce” videos where both kids and cats got shot into the air, or even off camera by a person or preferably two in succession falling on the same mattress.

Someone did this to me on a trampoline when I was a kid. I shot into the air and shrieked.

In all of these cases, maybe even now, we lose ourselves in the thrall of it. In the subject of learning sure, bouncing a cat isn’t exactly a study of the northern Wyoming’s biodiversity but it is still a study nevertheless.

Over the past year I have been more musically focused which is the reason for less of these as I have been over there (pointing to my keyboard, trust me) more than typing these on my phone. But I’ve been enjoying the study of that and I’ve noticed my own growth over the past year. I’m almost 45. Like in two days. I know, it’s scary lol!

But I’ve been making music “seriously” since about the age of 20 or so. (Got my first bass guitar quite late). Anyways I can promise that I am still absolutely enthralled by learning and there is lots to tuck into. My playlist just went to Teru by Wayne Shorter off of his album Adam’s Apple which seems appropriate as listening to that level of musicianship speaks to how much there is still to explore.

Even if it’s what you watch of YouTube. Now some documentaries on there are pretty bland (if there is lots of animations and ‘exciting’ noises it’s probably less of a heavily academic work) but there is some really good ones too. Even though his stuff is a bit of a British cliche by now I would suggest anything hosted by Tony Robinson who has gone from actor to amateur archeologist with programs like Time Team and Walking Through History.

Here’s episode one as a sample.

There’s also Hoopla Audio which is an amazing app you can connect to your local library and can get you music, audio and even plays. For a writing project I’m listening to stuff on Shakespeare including acted plays that are on there.

There’s NPR of course and the Ted Talk series, How I Build This and a variety of other programs on there. I have to mention Car Talk as that has become a early week tradition for me at work laughing along with the episodes by Tom and Ray while I learn about cars. Or at least feel like I’m learning about cars.

And then of course there’s the public library.

Maybe this all starts to get you as you get older but I never was that jazzed about library stuff as a kid. I remember me and my older sister being part of a library kids club back then and she did way better at it than me.

Anyways later later on I wanted to write my first real book based on Lord of the Rings and so I did all this research on everything I could, trying to step up to Tolkien’s level (trying being the key word) and even though, no, I failed to create any languages I really had fun learning about things like archery (which I also did physically-awesome!) and some botany subjects and other things. I remember getting really excited about anything I could tie in like the history of wine. See my Georgia blog for more about this.

So, how to wrap this up! I’d say browse. Browse one of these platforms or the library for something you’d like to know. Make some tea and settle in. No this won’t be something to entertain friends with straight away. Take a quiet moment to settle into this kind of journey.

The world is out there.

Explore!

🙂

Tom