A colourful cast of characters are the subject of the latest work by award-winning author Patrick Warner
St. John’s based author and E.J Pratt Poetry Prize winner Patrick Warner is back with his third novel, My Camino, that explores the misadventures of three artists that takes them from New York, to Spain, to Dublin.
The story of My Camino follows the journey of three characters: Floss, Budsy and The Apostle John. Together they delve into the world of the New York art scene, where things take a turn for the worse.
“My Camino is the story of three friends who meet up in New York when they’re in their late 20s probably, and they’re all involved in the art world or want to be involved in the art world,” said Warner.
“So two of them are artists, and one of them decides to try and open a gallery. The three of them meet up and basically have an unexpected success in the New York art world. They put together a – I guess a launch or an exhibit and some really high powered art people show up at it and kind of take them under their wing. So that sounds wonderful, but it turns out not to be as good as they expected it to be, right? They find themselves involved in a world that isn’t what they think it’s going to be.”
Camino de Santiago
Warner’s new novel gets its name from the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage path that starts in the south of France and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral in Northern Spain that is said to house the remains of St. James the Greater, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ.
In order to lick the wounds the three main characters in My Camino received in New York, they take a trip to Spain to do the Camino de Santiago – backwards. The reverse pilgrimage plays on the idea that most people take that route in search of spiritual enlightenment, according to Warner.
“I was kind of intrigued by the idea of where you’d end up if you went on a reverse pilgrimage,” said Warner. “So instead of enlightenment and peace, they end up in a completely different place in which they had a revenge fantasy against all of these characters who they feel treated them wrong in New York.”
Patrick Warner came to Newfoundland to attend university at the age of 17 from Claremorris, County Mayo, Ireland in 1980.
“Unemployment was really high and there wasn’t much opportunity. So my brother had just finished medical school and he came here to take up a job in Newfoundland,” said Warner. “So he said, ‘Why don’t you come out to Newfoundland? You can live with me and go to university here.’ So I did. And then, of course, I met a woman from here and ended up marrying her. We moved away from the province a few times, but kept coming back here for obvious reasons.”
Outside of Newfoundland, Warner had spent time in both Ontario and New York, the latter of which provided inspiration for the setting of his book.
“It was an interesting year. I mean we didn’t live in Manhattan, we lived in Staten Island – which is a borough of New York, but I mean it is New York,” said Warner.
”I worked for the New York Public Library, so I used to go into the city a lot to visit various places. I love the atmosphere down there, and I always wanted to write about it in some way. So it took 20 years, but it finally came out in this book.”
Pull of Newfoundland
Despite his travels, Warner has always been pulled back to Newfoundland and Labrador. According to him, the province inspires much of his writing.
“I mean if you read my poetry books, you’ll find poems in there that are very much about the landscape here and the imagery here,” said Warner.
“And the kind of bad moods that people get into in March and April when the weather is terrible, and it has been for months, and we’re still stuck into it. And the first two novels were set here. Newfoundland is where I live and it seeps into everything, I think.”
If you wish to learn more about Patrick Warner, he can be found through his publisher at biblioasis.com/brand/warner-patrick. My Camino is available in book stores and for online purchase now. Warner will also be hosting a book signing at Broken Books at 245 Duckworth St., St. John’s on August 24 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.