By Chad Ingram
Rod Carley’s new novel Kinmount is a humorous take on small-town theatre that draws from Carley’s own experiences.
“The genesis for it happened when I was a young director,” says Carley, who teaches at Canadore College and Nipissing University in North Bay and has previously worked with the Highlands Summer Festival.
“I want to put a qualifier in here – all my experiences with the Highlands Summer Festival were wonderful,” he says.
As Carley explains, going back about 25 years he was working as a freelance director, hired to put on productions in various communities. “I did this all over the province and into the United States,” he says, adding that part of a director’s role is preserving the integrity of a piece of work. “As a director, you’re responsible for delivering the words of the playwright.”
Carley encountered some situations where producers wanted him to substantially change the plays he was directing for them, in ways they shouldn’t have been changed.
“In two cases, I had to walk away from projects,” he says. “At the time, they were very harrowing, awful experiences.”
In retrospect, Carley saw the humour in these situations, and they form the basis for the book.
“I believe you can tackle serious topics using humour,” he says. “They are funny now that I have some distance on it.”
Kinmount is about a production of Romeo and Juliet gone awry and is set in, well, Kinmount. “The name was naturally funny,” Carley says, noting the word Kinmount contains a noun followed by a verb. “With apologies to the good people of Kinmount,” he adds, noting a similar apology appears in the book itself. Aside from the name and some reference to a history of logging, Carley says the Kinmount in his story is otherwise fictionalized.
The book is Carley’s second novel and was published during a unique time.
“Kinmount was launched during the pandemic,” he says. “We’re all coping with the pandemic in different ways.”
Carley says he hopes his humorous novel “is a good tonic that we’ll get through it. Everyone needs a laugh right now.”
The book clearly had author Terry Fallis cracking up.
“Rod Carley’s Kinmount is a hit that kept me laughing and turning the pages from curtain to curtain,” Fallis wrote in a review. “It is funny, thoughtful, compelling, and filled with humane insights about people and their passions.”
“If you are in theatre, either as spectator or (foolishly) more deeply involved; if you have ever lived in or driven through an Ontario small town; if you have made love to someone north of Highway 7 and come to understand the intrusive curiosity of shad- flies, Kinmount is going to make you howl with laughter,” Dave Carley – who notes he and Carley are not related – wrote in his re- view of the novel.
Kinmount is published by Latitude 46 Publishing and its available for order on the company’s website as well as Indigo and Amazon, but Carley notes he likes to sup- port independent bookstores and encouraged those interested in his book to try ordering it through Master’s Book Store.