What a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about indie authors. This is so appreciated. Thank you.
My name is Bill Engleson. I was a social worker in British Columbia for many years. Before that, in my twenties, I was having a great time enjoying the 1960’s and early 1970’s, being a sometime student and a full-time communard. For part of those years, I was also happily engaged in writing a first novel. Once I entered the world of child welfare, my creative writing got side-tracked. That was okay. I put aside my draft novel (still under construction and called Bloodhound Days) and immersed myself in an exciting and engaging profession.
Once I retired, decades late, an early retirement, I should add, courtesy of a somewhat reactive provincial government who wanted to downsize public services at the expense of its citizens, I followed through on a promise to myself and others that I would promote my profession via fiction. Social Work is a multi-dimensional vocation but there have been precious few portrayals of it in cinema and literature.
Initially, I started to write stand-alone short stories about the world of child welfare social work. Fairly quickly into that process, I sensed that I had at least one novel in me. Once I had that bit of literary enlightenment, I began to hone my main protagonist, Wally Rose.
Although there are many collaborative moments in the world of social work, my experience was that it can often be a lonely and introspective profession. With that in mind, and because I am a devotee of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, not to mention a host of other writers who followed in their wake, I gave Wally Rose a similar voice to Sam Spade (or Bogey’s rendition, at any rate) and Philip Marlowe. Child Protection has some of the same elements found in the world of detection. Pieces of missing human puzzles are constantly being sought; there is a nourish darkness to the lives of some of the characters; systems and small human lies sometimes stand in the way of getting at the truth. Sometimes, there is no truth to found. The trail ends; lives simply move on.
Like a Child to Home is mostly set in a two week period in November, 2001. The principal narrative follows Wally Rose as he plies his trade. He supports a range of kids in care and a few on the fringes; he helps a fellow worker with one of her new cases; he faces a challenge to his practice from the past. He begins to seriously think about life after work.
The secondary narrative sketches in aspects of the lives of Carla Baynes Prentice and her two kids, Skye and Jordan. I say “sketches” because I intentionally wanted to try and show how much, yet how little, social workers actually know about those who receive our services.
My working title for the book was Next of Kin. I know, how unimaginative. There are a number of books with that title as well as a quantity of movies and other shorter cinematic experiences. I knew I would find another title eventually but using Next of Kin helped me stay focussed on what I saw as the relationship with kids in care and their social worker…or the agency they work with. There is, in social work, a bureaucratic kinship that is sometimes legally clear but emotionally suspect.
Anyway, I eventually selected Like a Child to Home as the title. It is a line from a song by Canadian Folksinger, Stan Rogers. Stan died a horrible death by fire back in 1983 at the age of 33. The line, like a child to home, taken from Stan’s song, California, seemed to capture, for me, what every young person I ever encountered was trying to do…to find their way home.
Incidentally, here is the chorus to the Stan Rogers song I borrowed my title(s) from…
“Is it my fault that my kind
are drawn towards the sun,
like a child to home
whenever dark is done”
Like a Child to Home is self published and was released in July 2013. I followed the route of JP McLean in using the services of Friesen Press to produce my novel. Once it was released, I began to promote it as well as focus on my next novel task, the total rewriting and completion of Bloodhound Days. I still intend to do that but it occurred to me that Wally Rose still had more stories to share. I am presently writing a prequel, Drawn towards the Sun, which spans 1978-83, Wally Rose’s more professionally and personally formative years. I am also outlining a possible sequel to Like a Child to Home, which more than likely will be called Whenever Dark is Done.
What I also do
I live in a small island community on the west coast of Canada. Communities such as mine have a great need for volunteers to make the whole thing work. Currently I serve on a couple of community health-related Boards of Directors. Over the 10 years I have lived here, I have had the opportunity to volunteer in the artistic, educational and political life of my adopted home. As important as writing is to me, I will continue to volunteer in the community until I run out of steam.
My website/blog is probably the best way to source my novel, as well as a select few of my other writings. Like a Child to Home is available as an e-book, as well as soft and hard cover.
Every couple of weeks on my blog, I post either a literary or child welfare commentary.
Well Chris, I hope that gives a bit of a portrait of who I am and what I do.
Bill Engleson RSW (Retired)
(oops, and writer.)
This link to Barnes and Noble offers a sample of the book, the first 19 pages…