First Fiction Fridays: A Matter of Will

November 17, 2017

Veteran actor, director, and playwright Rod Carley gives novel-writing a try, and succeeds with the hilarious  A Matter of Will (Latitude 46). The book follows main character Will Croswell through the ups and (many) downs of his life, culminating in divinity education in the middle of frozen Newfoundland nowhere, and is written with all of the excellent pacing of a comedy play.

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A Matter of Will (Latitude 46 Publishing)



Rod Carley is the Artistic Director of Canadore College’s Acting for Stage and Screen Program in North Bay and a part-time English professor at Nipissing University. He is also an award-winning director, playwright and actor, having directed and produced over 100 theatrical productions to date including fifteen adaptations of Shakespeare. Recent acting credits include principal roles on Cardinal and Hard Rock Medical.  He was the 2009 winner of TVO’s Big Ideas/Best Lecturer competition.


Why you need to read this now:

In times of uncertainty we need a good laugh. Say adieu to 2017 with a nostalgic and hilarious romp through Canada’s artistic and physical landscape.

Just as Terry Fallis used his experience in federal politics to write The Best Laid Plans, Rod Carley transforms his decades in the theatre into a tale that is purely and irreverently Canadian.

Taking us from the Toronto theatre scene in the 1980’s to the remote outpost of Witless Bay, Newfoundland in the present day, Rod Carley recounts the story of Will Croswell, a middle-age maybe minister and his search for a mighty purpose, as though he’s talking to a friend at a tavern. You may want to grab a strong drink for this one.

The character of Will was inspired in part by Rod’s own experiences in the theatre world, but generally reflects a mash up of incidents and zany types he’s encountered along the way.

When we first meet young Will in the novel, he is far from an admirable character. But in the ensuing years, from relationships to the theatre, his life has become one shipwreck after another. Dumped by his fiancée and desperate to pay the rent, he finds himself taking a job as a telemarketer. Then Will hits rock bottom and after a life-altering AA encounter with an unconventional minister, he enrolls in divinity school and has to survive his most challenging escapade yet - a forty day fast in a Newfoundland outpost in the middle of the frozen winter.

A Matter of Will is a tall tale of a modern-day rogue seeking the divine. The story reinvents the quest narrative in a quirky rural east coast setting that finds Will out of his comfort zone.

And despite Will's foolishness, readers will find themselves rooting for him. His journey to self-understanding is a tale we all can relate to.  

We need non-maudlin resolutions in these cynical and desperate times. Through laughter and relatability, the story of Will gives us hope. Purpose is within our reach. It’s just a matter of will.


X plus Y:

A Matter of Will is a salute to literary icons Robertson Davies and Mordecai Richler; an unholy mix of Bruce Robinson’s cult classic Withnail and I and David Mamet’s play, Glengarry Glen Ross.




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Thanks so much to Laura at Latitude 46 for sharing  A Matter of Will with us (right as we hit peak 2017 blues). For more debut fiction served up on a Friday, click here.


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