Bemidji novelist Will Weaver releases long-awaited book 'Power & Light'
“Power & Light” marks novelist Will Weaver’s return to the themes of “Red Earth, White Earth” and “Sweet Land.”
BEMIDJI — Will Weaver is a novelist living in Bemidji who grew up on a dairy farm near Park Rapids.
Weaver taught in the English Department at Bemidji State University for 25 years and during that time he wrote a dozen books including the best seller Red Earth, White Earth, the Striking Out baseball series for young adults, and Sweet Land, his collection of stories from which “A Gravestone Made of Wheat” was adapted into the award-winning film Sweet Land.
Weaver’s long awaited new novel has just been released — it’s called Power & Light. It’s been several years since his last adult novel was published and in a recent What We’re Reading interview, Weaver noted during that time he’d been busy writing young adult books, teaching and raising kids.
"Writing is incremental. It does take time, but I'm very happy to be back with this big, fat novel of the Midwest."Novelist Will Weaver
“Writing is incremental. It does take time, but I'm very happy to be back with this big, fat novel of the Midwest.”
Power & Light follows the Haugen family, who emigrated from Norway to North Dakota in the early 1900s. Tragedy plus a crime against them by a powerful man threatens to destroy the family.
The story has ties to Weaver’s family history. His own grandfather emigrated from Norway to North Dakota. Weaver noted his family lived and farmed there, but also “carried the burdens of the old country: language, culture, trying to find agency in the new world.”
Their lives were complicated by a crime against one of the sisters in the family.
“The novel is my unpacking of that family story in which there was, in real-life, no justice,” Weaver said.
In the novel, Jenny, the youngest of the Haugen siblings, is an unlikely hero. She steps into the role of leader of the family with her more progressive views and awareness of her own agency, which allows her to speak up to, and for, her family.
"I’m very interested in fiction about the arc of families over generations. How they grow and thrive, or not."Novelist Will Weaver on his anticipated second book of the "Power & Light" saga
Weaver explained, “They are family and none of them ever forget that. Family comes first.”
In addition to skillful storytelling and rich characters, Power & Light takes us back to the past. Weaver noted how important the research is that goes into a historical novel to get the details right, but also pointed out necessary exceptions in Power & Light, specifically about trains.
“Since this is fiction, there are perhaps more trains and they are more readily available than was the case in reality.”
Weaver then quoted from his Author’s Note: “Forgive me, I love trains, and my characters need them.”
Power & Light is the first of a two-book saga. The next novel will bring the family forward to the near present. Weaver explained, “I’m very interested in fiction about the arc of families over generations. How they grow and thrive, or not.”
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