LATITUDE 46 PUBLISHING: Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme: Tamer Untamed
In September, Latitude 46 Publishing hosted a book launch event where they introduced the five novels they will be releasing this fall. We had the chance to speak with each of these authors and find out more about their novels, their inspirations and any tips they might have for potential authors. Today we’re sharing our interview with Suzanne Charron author of Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme: Tamer Untamed.
Tell us a bit more about Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme: Tamer Untamed.
Did you ever wonder where life would lead you if you truly followed your passion? Joe LaFlamme not only wondered about it, he lived his passion to the limit. When, in 1920, he settled in Gogama, in remote Northern Ontario, he discovered a passion for the wild animals of the boreal forest. Taming wolves soon turned him into a legend, his fame spreading throughout Canada and the United States. Yet he himself remained untamed and unstoppable.
Imagine a strapping Canadian trapper raising timber wolves to draw the sleigh; mushing his wolf team in the heart of big cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and even on Broadway in New York; travelling by plane with unleashed wolves; bringing his moose to ABC radio for an interview, to posh banquet rooms for a salad, and even to the local pub for a beer.
Not only did Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme’s passion lead him to tempt fate by rubbing shoulders with wild beasts, he also defied the law by bootlegging moonshine to make ends meet and spice up his life.
As LaFlamme’s biographer, I have done extensive research to bring his story back to life and establish the Wolf Man in the canon of Canadian legends.
What inspired you to write this biography?
Wolves and wolf-like dogs have always fascinated me. So, it was natural for me to want to write about the Wolf Man. Joe LaFlamme’s story has been haunting me ever since I first set foot in his former house, located on Harris Street in Gogama, Ontario. On a blustery November night in the early 1970s, a colleague and his wife had invited my husband and me to play cards. It was raining cats and dogs and the wind was howling like a pack of wolves as I listened to our host, an outstanding storyteller, relate bits and pieces of Joe’s fascinating life. The embryonic story has been lurking in the back of my mind ever since. A few years ago, it started insisting on coming to life, on being written.
The person who has been the subject of so much public attention has lived a life worth examining, more so because of his unique approach to life and, in this case, to wildlife as well. Free-spirited, LaFlamme understood and communicated with wild animals few of us would care to rub shoulders with. Yet Joe did so for almost three decades. The untamable wolf and the colossal moose had a friend in Joe LaFlamme.
Living in close proximity to these and other wild animals had helped build, but not tame, the tamer’s character. It had also awaken in him a passion for wildlife and, later on, for its conservation. But handling untamed beasts also meant that, to follow his unusual calling, he would have to ignore the dictates of civilization and to dare to live his life the way he saw fit. Joe’s story deserved to be known, even if only to depict the underpinnings of one of Northern Ontario’s most enduring legends.
What would you say has been your biggest creative accomplishment so far?
Researching and writing the biography of the Wolf Man in both official languages. As few original records have survived the passage of time, I have attempted to reconstruct the Wolf Man’s fabulous character and life events based mainly on personal interviews and numerous newspaper and magazine articles. The countless hours I have spent on researching the wolf tamer’s story combined the work of an archeologist, patiently scouring a site in the hope of finding hidden treasures, with that of a detective, trying to piece together all the facts and clues, either written or photographed. And passion for the subject was the driver. I had fun doing this!
Is Wolf Man Joe LaFlamme: Tamer Untamed your first biography? Do you have any plans for future titles?
Yes, this is my first biography or book. I also have a series for young readers on the backburner. Furthermore, I have started writing articles on wolves in my capacity as a wolf educator. No, I don’t educate wolves, but I inform people, including children, about the important role of this intelligent top predator in our ecosystems.
Any tips for future authors who are looking for the inspiration to start writing their first novel?
I would say to future authors to look within themselves and search for a recurring theme that has evoked passion throughout their lives. Build on that. It is always helpful to make use of all your senses to clarify or express those memories.
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