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Author visits Albany to read from debut novel

Mel Dagg writes about teen's adventure back in 1930

Author Mel Dagg will be making a stop in Tsawwassen to read from his debut novel next weekend.

Passage on the Cardena, set in 1930, tells the story of Matthew Clayton, 15, who sets off on a trip up the Inside Passage aboard a steamship in search of his father, befriending other passengers along the way.

It marks the first novel Dagg, who has produced three short story collections, has written.

"It was very, very different. I once read an interview where someone claimed after writing their first novel that it was all the same - it's just words. But for me it was very different. Even having done it, it feels different," Dagg said.

"I thought for writing a first novel, this would be a shoo-in, that is, a proscribed journey from Point A to Point B with a small group of characters, but it turned out to be more than that. It always does, I guess, after you start out."

Writing a novel had always been something he wanted to do, noting he came close before with a series of connected short stories that was "a little too slim."

He said this book was inspired by his time working as a young man on an ocean going towboat called the Lloyd B Gore, noting the ship pulled a freight barge to many of the communities that are in the book.

He said there's a strong bond or fellowship that can develop between crew members and that's something he tried to depict in the novel.

"I think that's very much what happens on a good crew."

Dagg, who divides his time between Mexico and Vancouver Island, has a PhD in Canadian literature from the University of New Brunswick.

He will read from Passage on the Cardena on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. at Albany Books, 1240-56th St., Tsawwassen.