Werewolves of Newfoundland: New Novel Explores Weres and Residential Schools

A freelance writer from Mount Pearl recently published his first novel, through a local indie publisher Engen Books. Brad Dunne’s After Dark Vapours is a werewolf story set in Newfoundland and Labrador that deals with the legacy of residential schools and the concept of intergenerational trauma. 

After Dark Vapours is about a twenty-something named Tyler who was raised by a single mother but died when he was sixteen. Tyler doesn’t know that he carries a werewolf curse inside of him from his father’s side of the family. In order to undo the curse, Tyler must investigate his family’s history and right a wrong that his grandfather committed in Northern Labrador in the 1960s. “The novel explores the legacy of residential schools and the concept of intergenerational trauma,” Dunne told The Racket via email.

Dunne said he has been writing on and off for as long as he can remember and notes R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series as an inspiration. “At around age twenty I decided I wanted to really dedicate myself to it and work towards becoming a professional writer,” said Dunne.

Working at Chapters introduced Dunne to Engen Books, which is a local publisher, which focuses on genre fiction like Sci-Fi and fantasy. “I sent them a query soon after finishing my manuscript and they were excited to work together. I'm very grateful for their enthusiasm and helping make my lifelong dream come true,” he said.

Writing a werewolf novel was not part of Dunne’s initial idea. “I knew that there would be a monster or supernatural element and I wanted to write about Labrador,” he said. “I researched local folklore and mythology and learned about Amarok, a wolf god.”

While developing the story about Amarok, stories of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was dominating the news, especially topics like settlements for residential school survivors. “I thought a story about a wolf god being offended by some of these events and cursing a family would be an interesting way to approach the topic,” said Dunne.

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According to Dunne, using a werewolf story to address such grave mistakes in Canada’s history is an appropriate way to tackle the sensitive subject matter. “Monsters are often metaphors for our own monstrous behaviour,” he said. “A werewolf is a particularly potent symbol of the duality of humanity and our potential for violence.”

After Dark Vapours is meant for mature readers as there are explicit scenes of sex and violence. The first set of books published have sold out but so far, Dunne does not have any plans to write a sequel. He is currently working on a new novel that he describes as “a Lovecraftian noir set in a fictional universe.”

Dunne will be signing copies of After Dark Vapours on December 8 at Elaine’s Books. Look for the novel at stores like Chapters and Broken Books or online at Amazon.