Five Questions for John Boileau Author of 6•12•17: The Halifax Explosion
1. You have written extensively on historical events. What is your fascination with history?
As a teenager I used to wish that our Canadian history was as exciting as American history. As I grew older, my fascination with our history started when I began to realize that our stories were just as exciting as any other country's—we just had not been telling them very well. My goal in writing about history is to tell some of those many stories in a way that makes Canadians want to read about them—and more.
2. There has been a great deal written over the years on the Halifax Explosion. What makes 6•12•17 different from the other "Explosion" books?
6•12•17 is different in the way it combines text and images in what I believe is a fast-paced, visually stunning way. Not only do the images run the gamut of photographs, prints, paintings, artefacts and maps, but the text is also broken up into various elements, including sidebars, factsheets and quotes. I think that the net result is an eye-catching medley that grabs readers and literally pulls them along. Additionally, the book has the largest format of any explosion book, as well as having more images than any other one. It also goes beyond the explosion to include the inquiry and reconstruction efforts immediately afterward, and then on to the explosion after the Second World War, plus two close calls during that war.