Local author and woodworker Herb Hopkins has carved out another gorgeous work of fiction with his 2018 novel, “New Found Land.”
Three and a half years, a trip to Havana, a trip to New Orleans, time in St. John’s, and a “deep winter isolation in Placentia to fight the pang of writer’s block” culminated in his new book.
“New Found Land,” Hopkins’ fourth novel, will be released in St. John’s on Sunday.
Readers of 2010’s “The Book of Luke” and 2014’s “Temperance Street” will be reunited with Luke Delaney, the main character of Hopkins’ previous and latest offerings.
“It’s 2016, and Luke is 40,” Hopkins began. “Luke is trying to quit his addiction to prescription opiates, but nothing works, that is, until he meets up with Cuban exile and pharmacologist Dr. Liliana Sanchez who has some ‘new found’ ways. Angeline LeBlanc is Luke’s strength, but she’s fighting her own demons,” he shared, teasing the plotline without giving too much away.
“The story touches down in New Orleans, Louisiana and Havana, Cuba, but it’s St John’s, Newfoundland (The City of Dreams) where it takes root.”
He quoted himself from previous media coverage of his 2018 release: “The city is a character, like an old friend, a handsome one at that.”
For Hopkins, his main character Luke Delaney is like an old friend. This character, a freelance writer from St. John’s, has been with Hopkins for nearly a decade.
In his novels, Hopkins opts to continue evolving his characters, as opposed to creating fresh faces for each. Why go that route instead of a totally blank slate?
“There are always new characters, but the protagonist (and his closest friends) are the same,” Hopkins says. “(It’s) an interesting process to see how characters grow and how they handle complex problems at various stages of life. In Luke’s case, the ages are 14, 27 and 40.”
One could imagine that there are challenges involved with continuing character development throughout novels. With 26 years of Luke’s life passing through the pages, there’s a lot to details to keep straight. Hopkins says the “passage of time” helps, noting that we are all “different people at different stages of our lives.”
Hopkins hopes “New Found Land” will appeal to different people at different life stages, touting his target demographic as “anyone who likes a good yarn and would like to learn.”
“Since this is a Newfoundland story, I tend to focus on a Newfoundland demographic,” he adds. “The storyline, however, (a) prescription opiate addiction and the power of suggestion, are universal themes that would interest a broader audience.”
The author perhaps widened his audience by making a bold move: offering a 100 per cent money-back guarantee on any novel purchased online in January. So far, no one has taken him up on that offer of a refund.
Though the novel won’t be released locally until Sunday, feedback has been positive so far, garnering comments like, “I was hooked after the third chapter,” and, “I couldn’t put it down.”
Local actress Lynda Boyd of “Republic of Doyle” fame shared her own review: “Herb Hopkins writes in an evocative, filmic style. This book must be a series.”
“It’s always great when other artists see something special in your work, but Lynda Boyd’s comment, well, ‘over the moon’ doesn’t quite cut it,” Hopkins said.
“New Found Land” will be officially launched at The Ship on Sunday night. When asked what attendees should expect, Hopkins quipped, “Short on speeches, long on friendship.”
On top of a reading from his latest release, books will also be available for purchase.
There will be free Iceberg beer compliments of Quidi Vidi Breweries, finger food and musical entertainment from Boyd Chubbs.
Be sure to ask Chubbs, Hopkins’ “scribe, artist and confidante,” to sign your copy of “New Found Land” too — the book cover art is worthy of the artist’s signature.
The official launch of “New Found Land” by Herbert Hopkins will take place at The Ship Pub in St. John’s on Sunday, Feb. 4 from 7-9:30 p.m. It is a 19+ event.