Newford - a fictional town in North America. Originally called Yoors. The Dutchman Diederick van Yoors settled the area in the early 1800's. The city's name was changed to Newford at around the turn of the century.
Q: Many of your novels, such as Forests of the Heart, Someplace to Be Flying? , Trader , Memory And Dream, and the stories in Dreams Underfoot, The Ivory And The Horn and Moonlight and Vines , are all set in a city called Newford. Did you make up this city and if so, why?
A: This might sound odd, coming from a fantasy author, but I donít really like to write about a place I havenít physically been to myself. Even in my secondary world fantasies, Iíve at least visited most of the settings - or rather, similar ones in our own world. Much of what I write about requires a root in the real world and when I first began to write, I couldnít afford to travel as much as MaryAnn and I do now, so my hometown of Ottawa became the setting of much of my work by default as much as from my love of the place.
Now, Ottawa is an interesting and lively city - a particularly interesting mix of government town and alternative lifestyles, urban blight and natural beauty, street life and wildlife - but it doesnít always have the right elements for certain stories I want to tell. But since I hadnít lived long enough in another large urban centre, I wasnít comfortable setting a story in someplace like the Bronx, or East L.A., or London, England. Still, I had stories that wanted to be set in places like that.
One day, when I was asked to contribute a story to the Post Mortum anthology, I decided to set it in an unnamed big city. This way, while I could get the "feel" of the place from having visited many such cities over the years, I wouldnít be tied down to figuring out the details of which way a street went, what store was on what corner, that sort of thing.
Some time later, after five or six fulfilled requests for other stories in the wake of "Timeskip, " I realized that Iíd been setting all these stories in the same unnamed city, using a repertory company of characters that I knew I would continue to visit in the future, so I gave the place a name, started a map to keep locations straight, started a concordance to keep track of things...and never quite kept up with any of it.
Had Newford not come along, I probably would have done some extensive research in some other place (much as I did with The Little Country). As it is, Newford is so alive to me now, and there are still so many facets of it I havenít explored, that Iím not quite ready to leave it yet.
Interestingly, Canadian readers tend to think of Newford as an American city, while Americans usually think of it as Canadian. No surprise really, I suppose, since it has elements of both. The one thing I specifically settled on was to use the American legal system in it.
Q: Where do I start reading the Newford stories?
A: The books have all been written in such a way that you should be able to pick up any one and get a full and complete story. However, characters do reoccur, off center stage as it were, and their stories do follow a sequence. The best place to start is the collection Dreams Underfoot. From there they go pretty much in this order:
The Dreaming Place?
The Dreaming Place and The Blue Girl are YA novels. A Whisper To A Scream and I'll Be Watching You are, respectively, a horror novel and a thriller; they're darker fare than the other Newford books and aren't really that integral to the underlying, ongoing backstory that takes off center stage in so many of the books and stories.