An Oregon City resident's debut novel was a finalist in the 2019 International Book Awards.
Judith Elliot McDonald will read from her novel, "Feargus," at a free Oregon City event this month. "Feargus" is described by Eugene-based publisher Eco-Justice Press as a tale of a "beloved, heroic dog, a woman with a dark and joyless history with dogs, and a ruthless feral pack with its own ideas about life and redemption."
McDonald said "Feargus" will appeal to dog lovers, Oregon lovers and "folks just looking for an interesting, sensitive story."
A resident of Oregon City for the past three years, McDonald said the impetus for her novel is a true story about a dog named Feargus on the Oregon Coast. Prior to moving to OC, she lived in the Coos Bay area for more than 35 years.
"I used a couple of dogs I had known throughout my life for story vignettes," she said. "A number of the dogs, especially the feral dogs, were created from true stories."
"Feargus" takes place between 1992 and 2005 and relies heavily on a feral pack of dogs that was well known to McDonald and other coast residents during that time.
"I understand that a change in the culture does not allow for so many wild dogs today," she said. "Currently, my daughter and her family have just gotten a puppy, and I will be sharing his care."
McDonald said that pioneering American writer Jack London was her principal literary inspiration for "Feargus," which was influenced by another groundbreaking author to blur the boundaries between science fiction and literature, Margaret Atwood.
McDonald said she tried to tell her novel's animal stories with London's "even, clinical reserve." She loves the work of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and hoped to capture "some of his ease of storytelling" in "Feargus."
McDonald has mainly worked as a playwright and in theaters throughout her life. Born into a theater family, she began performing at a young age. She opened her own theater, the Waterfront Players Repertory Company, in North Bend in 1996 and ran it for 13 years.
McDonald has written seven plays, all of which have been commissioned and produced. Her play "In Juliet's Garden" was published by Samuel French in 2007 and has been performed all over the world.
McDonald's newest play, "A Gathering of Finches" is a stage adaptation of Jane Kirkpatrick's historical novel of the same name. It's about an Oregon woman at the turn of the last century who was responsible for building the city of North Bend.
"Feargus" is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and from the publisher. McDonald is at work on her second novel, "Shakamaxon," which takes place over 500 years along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, where she grew up.
Live in 'Feargus'
WHAT: Judith Elliot McDonald will read from "Feargus"
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27
WHERE: Thrive Yoga and Wellness, 1107 Seventh St., Oregon City
MORE: Light appetizers, tea and wine will be served. The book will be on sale for $18.95 at the free event. You also can bring previously purchased books for signing. This will be a (well-behaved) dog-friendly event.
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