Powell brings first novel back to Antigonish

ANTIGONISH: After five years of city life in Toronto, Antigonish-native Arden Powell is returning to her hometown roots for the pre-book launch of her first novel, A Summer Soundtrack for Falling in Love.

“The launch will be a pretty small affair taking place in the StFX Art Gallery in the Bloomfield Centre, generously sponsored by the StFX English Department,” Powell said, noting she’s very excited to attend the October 25 event which starts at 7 p.m.

“I’ll say a few words—very few, so I can escape the limelight as quickly as possible—and then a friend is going to give a short reading from the book.”

The book doesn’t officially come out until October 29, but hosting the party on October 25 was a better fit for Powell’s travel plans.

The author is a busy woman, as Soundtrack isn’t her only literary offering. She is currently shopping a novella dealing with southern gothic horror, and she is busy laying the foundation for a second novel. With that, she also works in comics.

However, on October 25, Powell is looking forward to introducing readers to protagonist, Kris Golding.

His story begins in New York, where he’s arrived without a job or apartment. Luckily, he connects with Rayne Bakshi of international rock band “The Chokecherries.” Golding becomes Bakshi’s new guitarist.

Some on-stage flirting leads Golding to realize he may have romantic feelings for his bandmate. However, Bakshi is unsure of how to proceed, in that the guitar player previously said he was straight.

“As their tour gains momentum, Kris’s sexuality becomes the least of his troubles,” Powell said. “Between his conservative brother hell-bent on ‘rescuing’ him from his life of debauchery, a peacock that may or may not be the avatar of a cult god, and a publicity stunt that threatens to upend the band, Kris is definitely not in Kansas anymore.

“It’s part coming-out story, part road trip, and part making-your-own-family,” she said. “It’s mostly a comedy, entirely an adventure, and maybe a hint of fantasy surrounding that peacock cult, but not enough to bet on.”

Powell started the novel in November 2017 and had it ready for publishers by January 2018. She said the real work began once the good folks at Riptide Publishing said they were interested in handling the book.

“If the first draft was a breeze, the developmental edits were a tornado,” she said. “I added 20,000 words, cut an entire point of view and rewrote it, added a subplot with a new supporting character—it was intense, and unlike the first draft, it was on a strict deadline.

“That said, I’m the kind of masochist who enjoys editing like that, so overall it was a great experience. I owe my editor everything for dragging it through that process.”

While Powell is returning to Antigonish and, more specifically, the university where she earned her English degree, an argument could be made she returned to her hometown several times when fleshing out the background of her novel.

“I definitely drew on my small-town roots to influence Kris’s backstory: he also comes from a small, fairly conservative town, though he’s from Kansas, not Nova Scotia,” she said. “The rest of the story takes place in various big, glittering cities across America as his band goes on tour, but those small-town roots never leave him.”

Pre-ordering the novel is possible by visiting: riptidepublishing.com