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Brent Butt moves from comedy to dark suspense with first novel

Certainly the book is a huge departure from the humour of Corner Gas.
Brent Butt's first book not what fans might expect from noted Saskatchewan-born comedian.

YORKTON - There is little doubt Brent Butt will always be best known as the creator of the long-running TV hit Corner Gas.

The show was a comedy hit, which makes sense when you consider Butt was a notable stand up comedian before the TV show.

But, there is another side to Butt, who grew up in Tisdale, Sask., a darker side.

It is a side recently revealed as Butt released his first novel: Huge.

Certainly the book is a huge departure from the humour of Corner Gas.

The book is a psychological thriller that doesn’t seem quite like the Butt TV audiences have known, but the author is OK with that.

Butt said he spent the last year telling interviewers and fans that the upcoming book was a departure from comedy.

“I did everything I could,” he told Yorkton This Week.

But, he added, “some people didn’t get the message.”

That hasn’t meant a negative backlash, but certainly some readers have been surprised by Huge, said Butt.

“If you were expecting it to have a Corner Gas sensibility then some people might really be taken aback,” he said.

Ultimately, readers have accepted the change of pace – in a rather big way.

The response is much better than Butt said he had hoped, as huge has become a national best seller.

Certainly early sales were likely influenced by Butt fans checking out the book, but it has continued to sell very well.

“I am very proud of that. I feel it kind of stands on its own . . . that if you read it as a thriller it does have merit . . . I’m proud that it actually stands on its own two feet,” he said.

The creation of Huge was something Butt knew one day would happen – a novel at least.

The germ of an idea that became Huge dates back to the 1990s.

Writing it was a joy.

“I really, really enjoyed the process,” said Butt.

The process of writing the book is one Butt found freeing, adding writing scripts is something of a structured process with things happening almost in prescribed fashion.

With a book, having 80,000-100,000 words to work with twists and turns are allowed.

“That kind of wiggle room, that kind of size really afforded me the opportunity to spread my wings,” said Butt.

In fact, Butt said he overwrote, knowing words would be cut, but enjoying the process nevertheless.

Not surprisingly perhaps, the main characters are comedians on the road, which was how Butt’s career began. He admitted with the characters Dale and Rynn “there’s part of me.”

Butt said he lived life on the road in the late 1980s playing bars people were surprised to see him arrive at, with audiences not always interested in hearing a comedian.

Drawing on his experience was important.

“If you inject a work with some authenticity people are going to feel that,” he said.

Butt is currently working on some authentic ideas for book two.

“I’m well into my second novel now,” he said.

The book is unrelated to Huge or its characters, but will again be a thriller and have overtones of show business.

And, Huge two might happen. Butt said his publisher has suggested the idea, so who knows.

“I do have a story in my head,” he said.