• James Armstrong

Rebellion, romance and cross-cultural relations abound in Frank Hicks’ latest novel


PHOTO BY MARILYN GAUTHIER

The fate of two lovers is tangled in the threads of political intrigue beyond their control in Hudsonite Frank Hicks’ new novel titled The Rebels.

Regardless of whether or not you are an avid bookworm, The Rebels is a great antidote for getting through the latest winter cold snap. It’s an opportunity to curl up with your beverage and snack of choice and experience the romance, historical fiction and political intrigue that are integral to the fast-paced plot of the novel.

Described as an IRA (Irish Republican Army) and FLQ (Front de libération du Québec) romance, the plot spans the geo-political landscape of Ireland and Quebec from 1916 to the mid-1970s.

Hicks’ concise journalistic style makes for an engaging, easy and accessible read with the plot moving forward to its culmination in less than 200 pages. According to Hicks, motivation for writing the novel developed out of his own interest in civil rights, liberty, and justice issues in Ireland and Quebec.

“I wanted to explore what motivates someone to get involved with organizations like the IRA and the FLQ,” Hicks told The Journal. “It all comes down to civil rights, I think. So called revolutionaries have a conscience, too.”

Born in Belfast, Ireland, Hicks came to Canada with his family in 1948 at the age of two. He has lived most of his life in Montreal and has a strong connection to family members who remained in Ireland.

“Over 50 years ago, I used to write for a newspaper in Montreal for the Irish community so I was knowledgeable about what was happening in Ireland,” said Hicks. “I also met Paul Rose at one point,” he added of the Quebec nationalist who was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte in 1970. It was later determined by a government commission that Rose was not present when Laporte was killed. Hicks describes a parallel relationship between the IRA and the FLQ in his novel with the goal of giving his readers another point of view.

“It’s so easy to come to a quick judgment but sometimes you have to look deeper,” he said. “I try to make it totally believable and I like to get right to the story.”

Incidents in the book indeed did occur including a torture scene that took place in Ireland. “That gang actually existed and most of them got away with what they did,” said Hicks.

A few of the events in the novel are based upon the experiences of some of Hicks’ Irish family members.

“One of my cousins was arrested and interrogated even though he hadn’t done anything,” Hicks recounted. “At one point police blindfolded him, took him up in a helicopter and pushed him out.” Although the drop was not enough to kill him, Hicks said his cousin was never the same again.

The Rebel will be officially released at a book signing at the Hudson Village Theatre, 28 Wharf Road on Saturday, February 2 from noon to 2 p.m. It is also available on www.amazon.com in digital format and hard copy.

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