Library gala to feature guest speaker as himself
By Angelica Ingram
Published Nov. 1, 2016
Michael Redhill will not be showing up in a wig at Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre on Nov. 13.
The acclaimed Canadian writer jokes that one of the most common interview questions he’s asked is if he’ll be wearing a wig when doing appearances.
The question may seem like an odd one, but it’s not that unusual once you consider that Redhill has been writing many of his novels under the pseudonym of Inger Ash Wolfe.
“Not everybody knows the pseudonym is female,” he says. “Inger is a female name.”
The name was created from a version of his grandmother’s maiden name, which was Wolfinger. He chose the name to honour his grandmother, whom he called a great storyteller.
A full-time writer for many decades, Redhill, 50, decided to use a pseudonym because of the anonymity it would afford him.
Redhill says he always wanted to be a writer, as he grew up in a house surrounded by books.
“I made books when I was a kid. I would cut things out and paste them on pages and staple stuff together,” he says. “Some of these became best sellers.”
He began his true writing career at the ripe age of 14, he jokes, when he created a book of poetry.
“I remember I made what I thought was an elaborate selection of poetry in a duotang. And I painted the title on the cover,” says Redhill.
Raised in Toronto, Redhill began publishing poetry for real in the 1980s and moved on to novels in the early 2000s.
Some of his earlier titles include Martin Sloane, Fidelity and Consolation.
After gaining notoriety in literary circles and delving into the world of publishing, (Redhill spent many years involved with Canadian literary magazine Brick, nine as publisher) the writer’s career took an interesting turn.
In 2008 a book titled The Calling was published under the pseudonym Inger Ash Wolfe. It featured a female detective by the name of Hazel Micallef and was later turned into a studio film starring Susan Sarandon.
The novel became the first of many to be published under the fake name, which led to a mystery around the author’s identity.
“The idea for the first novel ... came first and I didn’t know what to do with it because it didn’t feel like something that I would normally write. But it stuck around and I kept developing it,” says Redhill. “I think I returned to something that I thought of a number of times in my life, which is that feeling of starting over.”
The idea meant Redhill could publish a book without the baggage or positive aspects of having his name behind it, and see what would happen, he said.
“There was a lot of curiosity involved and it was fun,” he says. “It was fun at first.”
More books were released under the secret identity, all following detective Micallef. Eventually though, the jig was up and in 2012 Redhill identified himself as the writer of these books.
“After the first two books we all realized that not being able to promote the books in the few remaining ways you can promote a book in public was really hurting the series’ chances,” he says. “I didn’t really want to [reveal myself]. It was fun to follow from the sidelines.”
Redhill said the identity gave him the opportunity to take a new direction in his career and step away from what he was known for.
He has continued to publish under the pseudonym and will be speaking on the most recent novel, The Night Bell, published in 2015, at the upcoming gala.
Redhill has thought about dabbling into non-fiction, but still has more works of fiction he’d like to complete first.
While he has plans for more books, he isn’t releasing too many details anytime soon. A fitting decision for a writer who has chosen paths of mystery.
The Haliburton County Public Library Book Gala will take place on Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. at Pinestone Resort. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Master’s Bookstore or by calling 705-286-1071.