Todd Babiak is an award-winning author, screenwriter, entrepreneur and former Edmonton Journal columnist. His latest and fifth novel, Come Barbarians, is hot off the presses and now on tour. You’ll catch him being interviewed about the book by Anne Bailey on Friday, October 25 at 7pm at the St Albert Public Library as part of StarFest, the St Albert’s Annual Readers Festival.
According to the StarFest St Albert website, Come Barbarians is “set in the south of France and tells of a man trying to leave his past behind who is caught in a shadowy web of political ambition and violence. It is a gripping novel of murder, revenge and high stakes, balanced by moments of love, loyalty and loss.
Babiak lives in Edmonton, with long writing trips to France: sometimes for a month, sometimes a year. He is the co-founder of Story Engine, a consulting company based in Edmonton and Vancouver.”
Babiak’s own version of his bio is more revealing of his personality and writing style…
Todd Babiak grew up in a small house in an oil town, with a mother who read horror novels and a father who cut the lawn with his shirt off. He pursued politics and literature in university. He spent a good part of the 1990s in Montreal. These were almost-separation times. It was bracing.
Today he lives in Edmonton, a northern city of mystery and enterprise, with long writing trips to France. Sometimes a month, sometimes a year.
He wakes up ridiculously early to work on novels or screenplays or journalism or essays, when his beautiful wife and children are still sleeping. Then he puts on a suit and works for Story Engine. Sometimes he does all of this in a hotel room far from his home. Your city, even. Say hello when you see him.
You can enjoy another expresion of his personality with his latest blog post:
The backdrop for Come Barbarians, his fifth novel, is the south of France, a departure from typical locales in his previous books:
Choke Hold (2000)
Jeremy returns home from Boston to the small Alberta town of Seymour where he is forced to confront his father and everything else he ran away from
The Garneau Block (2006)
a subtly satirical look at modern life, the story follows a cast of colourful characters in a small Edmonton neighbourhood in Canada’s oil-rich province of Alberta”)
The Book of Stanley (2007)
about which a National Post reviewer writes “Babiak skewers all and sundry–established religion, New Age faiths, cultish devotion, small-town politicians, the mass media, rampant consumerism and self-absorption–with relentless good humour and keen wit.”
Toby: A Man (2010)
a bit of a star in his hometown of Montreal. That is, until a death in the family and a failed experiment with Nyquil lead him to ruin.
and now Come Barbarians (2013).
Here’s the blurb about the book from his website:
Christopher Kruse has moved to the south of France with his wife and daughter to become a better man—to escape his past as a high-priced security agent and his guilt over old wrongs. But after a harrowing accident, he finds himself drawn into a web of political gamesmanship and murder. When his wife disappears, Kruse must draw on his old instincts to find her, ahead of the police and two sinister members of a Corsican crime family. His desperate search leads him closer to his wife, and deeper into the dangerous machinations of the most powerful leaders in the country.
Some early reviews:
Come Barbarians is a page-turner in the vein of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, minus the flashy technology.
Quill & Quire
With Come Barbarians, Todd Babiak stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Greene and le Carré, but makes the world his own, infusing it with French New Wave cinema and an emotionally resonant voice to craft a thriller of distinction, and of the heart.
Andrew Pyper, bestselling author of The Demonologist
Come Barbarians is a heart-wrenching and heart-stopping thriller filled with powerful demonstrations of familial love as well as remarkable, chilling violence. Babiak masterfully negotiates these two extremes in this fast-paced, intelligent novel that had me white-knuckled until the last page.
Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street
Todd has crafted a dark mystery that had me contemplating ‘What would I do?,’ all the while painting a beautiful landscape. Would make Richard Castle proud!
Nathan Fillion, star of Castle
The Garneau Block, went on to become a #1 regional bestseller, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the City of Edmonton Book Prize. Toby: A Man, was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal and won the Alberta Book Award for Best Novel.
Todd’s other novels were set in Alberta and Montreal. Come Barbarians is set in the south of France and, unlike his earlier books, the focus seems more p0litical than personal. It will be interesting to see how this latest novel fares in international markets. I suspect it will do quite well and I haven’t even read the book yet.