Local author rolls out his first novella demystifying the Townships

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Roughly one year ago, Josh Quirion set out on a mission to explore the dichotomy between regional life and urban city life using his own experience growing up in the Eastern Townships.
A native of Dixville, Quebec, just outside of Coaticook, Quirion accomplished his goal when he completed Towners and Other Stories — a 150 page novella about a small town called White Pine as well as eight short stories between four and 12 pages each.
The town he created represents the Townships. He kept Montreal the same in the novella because it’s already a recognizable location. People who come from the city don’t really know anything about the regions, he explained, something he has noticed throughout all of his life.
“I speak to a lot of people about the Townships,” Quirion said. “Immediately people’s imagination gravitates towards agriculture and sure, people know there’s a lot of trees, but they’re not really familiar with the culture, heritage or what defines the people out there.”
A book launch for Quirion’s newest work took place in Hatley on Saturday, where Townshippers participated in a ‘drive-by’ event due to Quebec’s public health and safety measures. The launch was organized by local publishing house, Shoreline Press.
The 30-year-old Bishop’s University graduate said it was a no-brainer for him to team up with Shoreline. The publishing house recently moved from Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, a suburb in Montreal, to the Townships during the summer thanks to new ownership under Angela Leuck.
Leuck, in a press release, said she met Quirion prior to taking over Shoreline. When the opportunity arose to purchase the publisher, Leuck contacted the young author to begin her quest to shine a light on local English-language writers in the area.
“I realized our region needed an English-language publisher who would take a risk on local writers and help their voices to be heard outside the Eastern Townships,” she said.
According to Quirion, who also completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Concordia University, Towners didn’t take him too long to finish. However, it’s the first time in his career that he has written a full length collection fit to be published in Canada.
The Townshipper added that his time at Concordia proved to be more detrimental to his self-confidence. When you see all of the talented writers, he said, and many of them are better than you, it shakes your motivation.
But while he doubted his own ability, Quirion said it also taught him self-discipline. He needed to put together a 90-page manuscript; the program gave him a sense of accountability to complete it — something he said not many of his peers were able to accomplish.

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