William Norton grew up in Vancouver B.C. And has spent the past few years working in the oil industry north of Fort Saint John. He usually writes stories that are uniquely and specifically from his perspective, his characters often share his name. He writes when he has time but spends most of his time working and being filthy. His hobbies include sleeping to catch up with sleep when he’s not working. Based off the current trend he suspects he will soon have more time for writing and social media than in the past which would be great if he didn’t have truck payments.
Here’s an excerpt from Will’s most Irish of stories, about a young man in Boston in the 1950s who teams up with a canny leprechaun:
He watched me turn away from him. I walked crouched over, leaning against the line of houses. I had nicked something when I had stood up. Frothy pinkish blood dripped onto the cobbles from my mouth that gasped, never seeming to be able to capture enough air.
I heard his light footfalls behind me, “You still could have tried to capture me. It wouldn’t take more than a minute and it looks to me like you’re going to die.”
I rested while he approached me and regained my breath. I managed to speak again, “When I was a boy I dreamed of Ireland. I thought it was Ireland, but later on my Ma and my Da told me that all the trees in Ireland were gone now. Chopped down to grow potato crops so they’d get the blight and we’d all end up in Amerikay. That wasn’t where I dreamed of, the place I dreamed had trees. Beautiful trees of emerald green.”
I continued, I was dying now and I could see the pictures in front of me more clearly than the rows of housing and the cobbles of Boston, “There were ladies done up in miniature but with wings and flowers in their hair, there were the men who were taller than me and had eyes the color of the sea and fair hair and pointed ears, and there were the little people. Some of them like you, some of them less like you, but all belonging to that place and to that world. What’s the point in hanging on here another day if I have to make a slave out of one of those from that land. I’d rather die and go there, see my Da again, see the little ones who didn’t make it then be a slave master. I won’t try to catch you. Not even my own Ma’s life or the life of little Grace is worth that to me, that’s not the way I want to be.”
Will took the time to tell us a bit about his St. Patrick’s Day experiences:
- What’s your most prominent memory of St. Patrick’s Day?
Green beer. Someone said something and we got into a fight. Black out. Abstaining from alcohol for about a month as a favour to my liver. My girlfriend at the time was convinced that raw steak would fix black eyes and bruises but we only had hamburger so she covered me in that and I think I got e-coli or something. Maybe it was the DT’s. Whatever happened that I don’t remember, it was memorable.
2. Name the part of Irish culture you are most happy to lay claim to and why- is it Guinness? Irish music? The Book of Kells? The Fighting Irish?
I like hitting things and getting drunk. I also like kissing. I’m not sure how much Irish I have in me, I think I’m a complete North American mongrel but I’m willing to commit some cultural appropriation for the hitting and the drinking and the kissing.
3. What are your thoughts on working with this sort of writing exercise, fueled by prompts? How did seeing the prompts of your fellow authors and chatting online together with them about the work affect your process?
I was working most of the time and didn’t get much time to talk. I had a lot of radio silence on my end when I was out of internet range. When I was in touch it was fun. The authors are cool people, there was no negative crap, no stupid games. Everyone was always posting these fun Irish memes and even a dancing parrot at one point. Fun was had.