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Halifax Explosion sets the stage for author's debut novel

It’s a story of lost love, but the heart of Jon Tattrie’s first novellies in a piece of history that changed his hometown forever: theHalifax Explosion.

It’s a story of lost love, but the heart of Jon Tattrie’s first novel lies in a piece of history that changed his hometown forever: the Halifax Explosion.

“There’s no shortage of books about the Halifax Explosion . . . but I wanted to read (one) . . . where the explosion was the main character,” Tattrie said of the inspiration behind his own book, Black Snow: a story of love and destruction, which will be launched tomorrow.

“Black Snow is primarily just during the 36 hours from the explosion to when help started to arrive,” said the 32-year-old writer, a regular contributor to Metro Halifax.

“The main character has just returned from serving in the trenches of World War One,” he said of young protagonist Tommy. “He comes back to Halifax and he’s just trying to get his life back in order.”

Then comes Dec. 6, 1917, that fateful date etched in the minds of Nova Scotians, including that of Tattrie, who has lived on both sides of the harbour where the Mont-Blanc and Imo collided.

“It’s like everything that he left behind in the European war has come back and just destroyed his own city,” he said, explaining Tommy is determined to find wife Evie during the horrific aftermath of the explosion.

Tattrie first started conjuring up a fictional story that could be set in the all too real disaster while working at the Halifax Daily News. But what started as a short story soon turned into a full-fledged book, with characters that seemed to “come to life” and a plot fuelled by the “intensity of the explosion,” he said.

 
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