Drew Hayden Taylor’s latest novel brings Indigenous folklore into modern day

The idea for Cold first came to Drew Hayden Taylor roughly 20 years ago. But back then the Ojibway writer believed it was going to make for a cool Indigenous horror movie called Wendigo.

Now in the form of a novel, and named Cold, it is not the first time an idea has shifted from the page to the stage or the screen for the prolific author who has penned more than three dozen works.

Cold follows an Indigenous studies professor, an Indigenous hockey player, a detective and a former journalist-turned-author and their subtle connections that takes a menacing turn.

It is being pitched as Indigenous myth meets Stranger Things but his publisher has referred to it as an Indigenous X-Files.

“I handed in the book and they read it and they came back and said they really liked the book but there’s one major problem, and I said ‘what’s that?’ and they said it needs a sequel. So, I’m going to start working on a sequel and hopefully this will become a chain of books, sort of like a native X-Files that goes out, explores and celebrates some of the characters in our legends and our myths in a contemporary environment,” says Taylor on the latest episode of Face to Face.

The novel is part murder mystery, part horror and in typical fashion for the author, it’s also funny.

Taylor says any and all topics, no matter how difficult the subject, can be discussed through humour.

“I ran into an Elder on the Blood reserve in Alberta who once told me, for Native people, in his opinion, humour is the WD40 of healing and I liked that,” says Taylor.

“I like to get involved in the world of healing through humour. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to over 150 First Nations across Canada and the States and every single one I’ve been too, I’ve been greeted with a laugh, a smile and a joke. In my opinion, it’s our sense of humour that’s allowed us to survive, three, four, 500 years of colonization.”

Many of Taylor’s previous works, including the new novel, also incorporate the supernatural or something otherworldly.

In recent years, Indigenous science fiction has become a hot topic on the page with books including Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Crusted Snow and Moon of the Turning Leaves and on the screen with films like Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders.

“It’s the genre to do now because for long periods of time, our writers, our people have been looking in the past, what we’ve lost, what we’re trying to get back, what we’re trying to regain. We’re always looking behind us and I always like taking that lens, turning it around and let’s see where we’re going to be in 30, 40, a hundred years, from now,” says Taylor.

“For the longest time, a lot of our literature dealt with colonization, the effects of colonization. And we had to get that out of our system. When an oppressed people get their voice back, they’re going to write about being oppressed. So, there were all of these books coming out about colonization, reserves, residential schools, all of that sort of stuff.

“I think we’ve gotten to the point now where our attention is expanding. We’re beginning to look at different ways of expressing ourselves. I’ve always been of the believe that our writers are as clever, as talented and as interesting as mainstream writers.”

Not only has he released his latest novel, Taylor is also set to return to TV screens with the upcoming third season of Going Native, which airs on APTN.

The new season will see Taylor visit the Yucatan Peninsula, Australia, New Zealand and the western Arctic.

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