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By Constance Scrafield
Since living in Toronto for the last 14 years, Mitch Austin now lives in Orangeville with a roommate and a “great landlord."
“After the pandemic, a lot of things seemed different,” he commented. “A lot of places in Toronto close early too and there's less hustle and bustle.”
A freelance film editor, Mr. Austin enjoys the work for being “somewhat creative” even though commercial work, going on to serve the client and agency, bringing their vision to life.
“In service of the project, there's a lot of relationship building,” he said. “A team of people helps me maintain relationships and make new ones.”
The School at Ryerson for Radio and Television Arts (RTA) has led Mr. Austin to doing film for a long time. He feels lucky to have enough work to support his life, constantly getting more contracts.
By and large, Mr. Austin's clients are in Toronto but the work is all done remotely, as he informed us with editing, it would be very rare to have to be in person.
Revernota is his first book. Launched at BookLore in October, Revernota is written for kids from grade six up. A thriller about two boys, Sammy and Howie, another boy, Tommy, who gives up bullying for friendship and a strange neighbour, the source of the mystery that takes the boys – and the readers – on an adventure.
“My first book, I think what inspired me is I'm just always trying to treat kids to something, exploring some of my childhood memories. I thought about what would excite me as a kid.”
His intention in writing this youth novel was to do something for kids, writing a book, a little bit simpler, wanting to explore for kids.
“There's more to life than meets the idea.”
Writing it based on his childhood from a small town, Revernota started with a short story. A couple of people told him they liked the tone and he went to Chicken House Press, telling us, that owner and publisher of Chicken House, “Alanna is just working to enlarge her press.”
At 270 pages, Revernota is pretty easy to read, with the plot unfolding chronologically from beginning to end and divided into chapters, these kids are on an adventure. The heroes themselves are kids in grades seven and eight.
It was a project created over a few years, by pandemic getting the final touches but the manuscript sat around for a long time. The story is written in the first person, the main protagonists, Sammy and Howie, plus Tommy go into this adventure. There is a world beneath [the streets] that actually maintains what's happening above.
He explained, “You can access this world through the idea of math and a good heart. It is a story about good and evil; what it means to have good friends.
“What I would like is to have good friends and be really attached to a small town. The reason for what something is comes down to magic. Even in actual reality, it is sometimes quite impossible how something came about.”
The story is essentially about a mysterious old man in the neighbouring house, who seems bizarre, like a cliché wizard figure. One day, Sammy and Howie decide they're going to find out “what's with this guy.”
They hop the fence and meet this man, Atwell. Revernota is fundamentally another world to which one can get access but Atwell wants to make a fortune bringing seeds to sell to evil people.
“When I was really young,” Mitch Austin related, “my dad read me the Narnia books. He read Harry Potter to me up to the third book. I read the fourth book to my dad when he was in hospital. Then I found reading laborious. Nothing sparked my interest. I started reading science fiction, read the Electric Kool-aide Acid Test about Ken Kesey and his followers, [testing the trips that LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs created during their journey across the USA] – the Infinite Jest, deeper concepts, layered meaning. They were characters that are psychologically advanced can challenge your own psychology.”
The liberation he found in the “sometimes a great notion, somewhat difficult to follow – shifts time and persons; 700 pages of it.”
Reading was once more a joy - The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway's powerful and strange novel which has never gone out of print since its first publication in 1926 and brought the idea and fact of the Lost Generation into popular culture.
He was brought to the much younger and modern Christopher Paolini, author of a long list of sequential sci-fi books that tantalized Mr. Austin desire to go back to writing.
He found himself reminding himself what is writing.
“Am I able to write?” he asks himself. “I feel just that I'm getting into it. I had to get to the point of what it is to be a man. Now in present day, I'm really interested in grammar.”
He has found himself to be a better editor, so a better writer and has been working on a draft for his next book, a realistic literary fiction book meant for somebody older. This is something he can do on his own. The challenges are different. Luckily, it is a lifelong pursuit.
“Art is not mere commodity; it's a way to understand life,” was his thought. “The difference in writing is that you can go much more complex into that multi-layered storytelling. I still consider myself to be in the early stages.”
When it came to promoting his book, Mr. Austin shies away from social media as a way of doing so.
“I want to get better at creating,” was his choice. “Being popular shouldn't be the reason for creating.”
Revernota is a book for young kids. There are ideas in this book that are expansive but simple, some good lessons in it and how Tommy changes. At first the bully, he is accepted and forgiven. It is inspiring, for kids in many ways. A mysterious adventure in a small town.
Recently, he is just working on learning Arabic, solely for the sake of learning another language, one that is quite different from his own. Arabic, for example, he noted is not based on Latin, as English is. He is studying in various ways, using the Internet, textbooks and with a few Muslim friends.
Perhaps most importantly for Mitch Austin, he is working on that new book's first draft, with some great characters coming out.
“My goal is to get a first draft done.”
He said, “I'm always thinking about the meaning of life. The main thrust of my writing is the meaning of life: to challenge and to be challenged.”
Revernota by Mitch Austin is still available at BookLore or online at Amazon.
Post date: 2022-12-22 11:41:54
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