A Creative Writing graduate has begun a prestigious Fulbright Canada fellowship this semester at McGill University in Montreal, where he will research and draft a novel set in New York and Quebec during the Seven Years’ War.
Camron Terwilliger, MFA ’07, will spend the academic year working on Yet Wilderness Grew in My Heart, which will dramatize how Mohawks clashed with Europeans throughout the corridor between Albany and Montreal during the war that began in 1756.
“Aboriginal people like the Mohawk are Canada’s fastest growing population, and they are destined to play an important role in the future of our continent,” Terwilliger said. “With this book, I hope to highlight their historical role, a role every bit as important as that of their European counterparts.”
Terwilliger began mulling the idea of a novel on the topic while still a graduate student at Emerson, and said he is “absolutely thrilled to have the chance to actually visit the region.”
“It will help me immeasurably in the process of bringing [the story] to life,” he said. “I can’t say how thankful I am.”
“It will help me immeasurably in the process of bringing [the story] to life. I can’t say how thankful I am.”
The Seven Years’ War is well studied by historians, Terwilliger said, but surprisingly little fiction has addressed it since James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, which was published in 1826. In a statement of purpose to Fulbright Canada, Terwilliger explained that many novels written more recently are strongly tied to a commercial genre, “using history as an exotic backdrop for a mystery, thriller, or romance.”
Yet Wilderness Grew in My Heart will be narrated through Andrew Whitlaw, a gentleman physician living on his brother’s manor in the Hudson Valley, Terwilliger said.
“The plot follows the narrator as he grows embroiled in his brother’s obsessive pursuit of a counterfeiter operating on Mohawk land,” he said.
Terwilliger, a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, in recent years has taught literature classes at Louisiana State University. His fiction has appeared in a number of magazines, including The Mid-American Review, Post Road, West Branch, and Narrative. He has been supported by a number of scholarships.
Fulbright Canada is a joint, bi-national treaty-based organization created to encourage mutual understanding between Canada and the United States through academic and cultural exchange. It is supported by the Canadian government, through Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and by the U.S. government through the Department of State, as well as a diverse group of corporate sponsors, charitable trusts, and university partners. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors and operates out of Ottawa.