Gerald Lynch muses on new novel, young writers, and Ottawa’s LRT system

The University of Ottawa’s Gerald Lynch will publish his sixth fiction novel this week, continuing a saga of mystery and conspiracy set in Ottawa.

Omphalos continues the adventures of capital city detective Kevin Beldon, following up on Lynch’s previous mystery novel Missing Children.

The novel is set in a near-future Ottawa in which corporations are phasing out the public sector, and conspiracies abound. Following the death of the CEO of the titular Omphalos Corporation, Detective Beldon seeks to find the killer, driven by a suspicion that the company is connected to the events of the previous novel.

Lynch’s work is notable for its hyperlocal setting. Two of his previous books take place in a fictional Ottawa suburb known as Troutstream, while Omphalos takes the murder mystery into Centretown. The mystery revolves around the Department of National Defense’s drab headquarters building, the University of Ottawa is baked into our hero’s backstory, and OC Transpo’s new light rail Confederation Line figures prominently.

Lynch hopes that the novel can bring some nuance to a genre often criticized for its predictability.

“It’s a literary mystery, it’s not the kind of pure genre you would get in a gumshoe detective kind of novel,” Lynch said.

Despite an impressive publishing record, Lynch is not a full-time writer. For most of the day, he teaches Canadian and Irish literature at the U of O. He believes that an aspiring writer needs to find a job that can give you the time to write and supplements a writing career. Having that full-time job is vital for an up-and-coming author and has been a crucial part of his own success, he said.

“Find a job that compliments your ambition to be a writer … a job in publishing, a job working for the Fulcrum, any kind of media company. It’s important it doesn’t drain you. Writing takes a lot of concentrated effort over a long period of time.”

Lynch also makes it clear that young writers are not alone in their journey, and urges students to take advantage of all that the university has to offer. Specifically, he highlights the Undergraduate English Students Association’s numerous writing contests, which he claims gives students motivation to diversify their writing portfolio.  

“What should a young writer do? Well, what an old writer does. Just write, write, write. If you’re writing than you are a writer and if you’re not—well, you just don’t want to be,” Lynch said.

Lynch plans on following his own advice and aims to complete his seventh book, and end the Kevin Belden trilogy, next summer.

Omphalos will be published on Oct. 17, and will be available on Amazon.ca, Benjamin Books, and from Signature Editions. .