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Former Weyburn resident and author releases first fictional book

A former resident of the Griffin-Weyburn area, Mark Morton, has just released his first work of fiction, a dystopian science fiction tale entitled “The Headmasters”.

WEYBURN – A former resident of the Griffin-Weyburn area, Mark Morton, an author of four non-fiction books, has just released his first work of fiction, a dystopian science fiction tale entitled “The Headmasters”.

The book is being published by Regina’s Shadowpaw Press, and was just launched on Feb. 6.

He grew up in the Griffin area, and worked for a time at the Weyburn Review in 1982, where Shadowpaw Press editor Ed Willett was also an editor in the 1970s.

All of his non-fiction books were written before 2005, when he and his wife adopted four older kids and writing was put on hold for a while.

“Two or three years ago I had more time, and I just didn’t feel like writing non-fiction,” he said, noting that he would spend long hours doing the research and writing non-fiction, where with fictional work, he will spend maybe two or three hours a day writing.

Instead of relying on pages of research notes, now he had to develop characters, get into their heads and let them lead the narrative of the story.

“It’s hard to compare them. In effort, I would say non-fiction writing was like a marathon condensed into a sprint, whereas the novel was more like a quick jog,” said Morton.

As he now lives in Kitchener, Ont., he set his story in a small community in Northern Ontario, and arises from a global event that results in creatures taking over the bodies of humans to control them.

The creatures, known as “headmasters”, sink coils into the brain and controls the body, using it for labour and the mind to communicate with each other. When the person dies, the Headmaster transfers to someone new, along with the dead person’s memories – thus talking about memories or the past is forbidden.

The story concerns itself with the main character, Maple, who has memories begin to surface from someone who came close to defeating the Headmasters, and she considers how to use these memories to defeat the Headmasters.

Morton said the idea for the creatures arose from his hate of wood ticks, which were very plentiful around the farm where he grew up near Griffin.

“There were wood ticks everywhere, and they were one of the ugliest things ever,” he said, adding he wanted to create a situation where people were so defeated, they couldn’t even think of how to fight against it.

Asked if this is a new direction for him as a writer, Morton said he has no intentions of going back to non-fiction writing. He’s already finished a second novel, and has started a first draft of a third one.

“I turned 60 about a month ago, and I’m more aware now of how many years I might have left. I want to spend the rest of my life doing stuff I want to do,” said Morton.

He noted he owes a debt of gratitude to former Review owner-publisher Ernie Neufeld, who took a chance and hired him on for the summer. He wrote features and news stories, and the love of writing took hold from that point.

Growing up on the prairies is also a part of him, and this has impacted his writing to an extent, such as the extremes of hot and cold weather.

“That comes into the worlds I create, even when I write about Northern Ontario,” said Morton.

His book is available in bookstores, as well as through Amazon or Indigo online.