Writing World: Tom Moore

By: Nick Travis

It’s a time in NL’s past that marked a significant change; Confederation. Author Tom Moore approaches the topic through a unique lens in his latest release


Newfoundland-based author Thomas Moore, author of such books as Canadian bestseller Good-bye Momma, Angels Crying and Plains of Madness, is back with a tale of finding one’s own identity – The Sign on My Father’s House. 

The book is a follow up to Good-bye Momma, which follows a young boy named Felix Ryan’s struggle of accepting the death of his mother, and the idea of his father moving on and finding someone new. 

End of an era

His new book follows a grown-up Felix Ryan, from Curlew, Conception Bay during the end of the Joey Smallwood era in the late 1960’s. This new novel focuses on the changes happening in Newfoundland around this transitional time in Newfoundland history. Felix’s father is a very political person, and feels strongly about resettlement of Newfoundlanders from outports to more accessible communities. 

“The crux of the story is when the father puts a sign up on his house condemning Joe Smallwood, and the community rebels,” said Moore. “It’s about a time of exodus from rural to urban in Newfoundland for many of us.”

Felix is described as a man who isn’t passionate about much in life. He’s the type to go wherever the wind takes him, and to default to the opinions of others, which is a polar opposite to his own father. 

Throughout the novel, from his time at Memorial University and beyond, Felix is taken on a journey of finding his own identity, and putting up his own “sign on his house.”

“Throughout my book, there are 15 signs,” said Moore. “A sign is more than just a casual remark. A sign is what you hang around your neck – be it a crucifix or a star. A sign is what you wear on your baseball cap, a sign is the flag you hang over your door… A sign is about you, who are you?”

Moore uses the symbolism of the sign as an allegory for carving out one’s own place in their life.

“A sign is the cave in Lascaux in France 45,000 years ago, the hand on the cave,” said Moore. “That’s a sign – I am, I exist. This me, a human being.”

Forced to choose

One of the central themes of the book is the identity of Newfoundlanders post-confederation in 1949. Many struggled with the idea of not just being Newfoundlanders anymore, but also Canadians. 

This struggle follows Felix in his journey later in the book as he is forced to choose whether to move to mainland Canada to continue his studies, or stay in Newfoundland. 

Moore can personally relate to this split in identity, as it was something his own family dealt with. 

“A lot of people were sad to give that up, to take Newfoundland coins out of the till – My father had a store. Suddenly we were part of Canada, and a lot us embraced that and really came to love it, and some didn’t. The book is about growing up in Newfoundland, but it’s about Newfoundland growing up.” 

Anyone looking to read Moore’s newest story can find it anywhere where you can find books. The novel is also available through his publisher Flanker Press at www.flankerpress.com. 

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