Lawrence Hill on His Upcoming Novel, The Highway


There’s something incredibly beautiful
about being able to just swim around in your own mind and see what pops up.
It’s kind of like creating a whole world in your head and just having faith
that your imagination is worth something. I’m working on a novel called “The
Highway” about the building of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War.
Three-thousand African-American soldiers from the deep South came up to build a highway in northern Canada. Racially segregated, disarmed, and they’re having affairs with Indigenous women and it’s quite an astonishing story that’s a little-known nugget of Canadian history. I’m starting to form characters from the word “go.” I do try to map out what each character wants and I take notes about characters—what they look like, you know, what their history is, and so forth for sure, but
mostly I try to discover the writer not so much by brainstorming or by taking
careful plot notes, but just by writing. And for me, the discovery of the story lies
in just, you know, kind of explosive, volcanic writing and see what bubbles up.

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