Saskatchewan landscape inspires artists

Two Saskatchewan artists have been inspired by the landscape that surrounds them, and are touring the province together with their new novel and album. Lisa Guenther, with her new novel Friendly Fire, and Carmen Loncar, who performs as Best Kept Secret Girlfriend, were at the Yorkton Public Library to perform and discuss their work.

The novel Friendly Fire is set in Guenther’s home town, in the Bright Sand Lake and Turtle Lake area. The novel begins with the protagonist, Darby, discovering that her aunt has been murdered.

“The rest of the novel is about her unraveling that, and dealing with the consequences. It’s really about violence against women, the theme of the book, but there’s a lot of agricultural references as well, drought, forest fire and that kind of thing.”

While completely fiction, Guenther says that the plot started coming together when told about a real life incident in her home town.

“Years and years ago, one of my bosses told me about a near drowning, a near miss. It inspired the thought that something tragic could happen at that lake... Sometimes there’s that idea that nothing happens in small towns, or that they’re really safe. It’s not that they’re more dangerous than the cities, I don’t think that they’re any safer.”

The decision to tour together came because their work fits together well. Guenther says that there are similar themes, environments and moods between the music and the novel. She says that it was easy to fit the two together when putting a performance together

“It works really well because we have common themes in our work. My main character in my novel is also a musician, so it’s a nice, integrated performance,” Guenther says.

“We take a lot of inspiration from the same things, then what you put out is very much influenced by that,” Loncar adds.

Part of that similar inspiration is a love of the land of the province and the people who work it, something both women says comes through in their art.

“I have a song about flax... It’s really about the relationship to the land and people’s relationships within that, and how that lifestyle affects who you are, the kind of relationships we have and the kind of art we make,” Loncar says.

It has been a worthwhile tour, they say, and they believe that having a mix of music and literature has been a way to reach people they might not otherwise connect with. It has also been a tour with little in the way of drama.

“The only thing we argue about on this tour is identifying trees,” Guenther says.

Their work can be found online at lisaguenther.com and bestkeptsecretgirlfriend.bandcamp.com.

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