Bane of All Things — a Début Novel - theHumm January 2022

Bane of All Things — a Début Novel - theHumm January 2022

By John Pigeau

Growing up, Leo Valiquette was fond of fantastical stories. The Star Wars saga, Tolkien’s Middle Earth books, and classics like Charlotte’s Web — these were the made-up worlds Leo liked to inhabit. Later, in high school, he liked to make up stories and was admittedly “a Dungeon & Dragons nerd.” At some point, he fashioned himself a decent writer, too. Now, many years on, he has realized a lifelong dream and published his first novel, an epic fantasy called Bane of All Things.

It’s an exciting time, he says, but admits it’s all taking some time to sink in — that the book’s been published, and is receiving some notably wonderful reviews.

“It’s all rather surreal, to be honest,” Leo says. “I am the sort of person who is always focused on what’s next. And what’s next is, ‘OK, the book has published, what must I continue to do to drive sales?’ Which is valid, but I need to make myself take time to smell the roses and relish the fact that, yes, I have just published my first novel after having worked toward this life goal for 20-plus years.”

Leo, who lives near Port Elmsley with his wife and son, believes his experience working in a museum, then as a journalist and a newspaper editor, and finally as a corporate business writer, have all helped him become a published author.

His interest in history first drew him to museum work. “But at that time, the mid-90s, career opportunities in the field were a bit scarce, and I looked to return to school. I had always been a strong writer and had been making up stories since my early teens. So I decided to return to school for journalism, because I believed it would give me a strong foundation for any kind of writing career. This has proven to be true.”

Indeed it has. Bane of All Things was published in early December by Inkshares, a small innovative American publisher.

Leo explains the plot of the book, which is the first in a series of four: “Bane of All Things is a story about two young people. Ryn is a soldier sworn to serve the church of the land, haunted by his part in the massacre of a village, who comes into possession of an ancient relic with a will of its own. Josalind is a suspected witch but is really something else entirely who threatens to shake the church to its very core. They must learn to take control of their own fates and not just be the pawns of others, as well as come to terms with the impact their choices hold for the rest of the world.”

But the story doesn’t end there.

“I have it plotted out as a four-book series, titled A Silence of Worlds,” Leo explains. “The stakes will continue to rise, and the reader will continue to learn more with each book about what the stakes really are. The characters themselves will face harder choices, with greater awareness of what impact their choices will have and how they must mature and grow as a consequence.”

Book 2, called The Crucible Tree, is already written. Leo’s in the midst of revisions before he passes it on to his publisher. The release date for that one has yet to be determined.

A cancer survivor, Leo says writing these books has been a sort of therapy during ongoing treatments, but it’s also been a challenge too.

“Sinking into my own created worlds, going right back to being a Dungeons & Dragons nerd in high school, has always been an escape. Living with cancer (metastasized melanoma) for the past two years, it’s definitely been a kind of therapy to be able to focus on my fiction, and on the process with my publisher to get the book out the door. On the other hand, it’s been a definite struggle to continue to write because of the physical toll taken on me by the cancer and by the treatments.”

Leo credits his wife Natalie for helping him further his dream of becoming a career author. He also draws inspiration from his autistic son William, who “everyday teaches me the virtues of kindness and empathy.”

If you’re a fan of gritty epic fantasy books, you’ll be happy to know that Bane of All Things is available to order from Amazon and from Chapters-Indigo (both online and in-store at select locations).

“It can also be ordered for in-store pickup from various independent bookstores,” Leo says. “Some independents are also stocking it in-store, such as Toronto’s Bakka-Phoenix Books — Canada’s oldest science fiction and fantasy bookstore.”

Early reviews of Leo’s gritty fantasy have been exceptional.

“Visceral and vivid, Bane of All Things is a gorgeously imagined ride,” writes Kate Heartfield, author of the Alice Payne series and The Embroidered Book. “I enjoyed getting to know these characters and the world of monsters and magic they inhabit. A terrific read.”

One day in the new year, perhaps, you’ll be able to meet the author and buy Bane of All Things at a book signing or a reading in an Ottawa Valley bookshop. Leo is anxious to do so, but understandably wary as well.

“I am hoping to have formal reading and signing events in the near future, but between my health challenges and the latest twists with the pandemic, I am being cautious about that right now.”

For now, you can learn a lot more about the author and the book — including a nifty detailed map of the world in which the story is set — as well as reading some more very flattering initial reviews of the novel, by visiting his website at .

And, of course, you can buy the book too! Bane of All Things just might be the fantastical escape you’ll enjoy in the new year — perhaps as a gift to yourself (you know, the one you didn’t get over the holidays). It sounds like an absolute winner all around.


Jack Stekelenburg — “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?” - theHumm January 2022

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

Ten years ago I wrote that “Renfrew metal sculptor Jack Stekelenburg enjoys challenging our preconceptions of art. Following in the footsteps of his philosophical and artistic mentors, he creates art as an unconscious, unscripted, wordless act of emotional expression. He also plays and experiments and grows as an artist.”

Sixteen years ago the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau inspired a construction worker from Renfre......


Pop, Pivots & Pirouettes
Folkus presents The Pairs & Tragedy Ann,In-Person and Virtually!
- theHumm January 2022

By Sandy Irvin

With excitement and joy, Folkus planned their 20th season this fall. We’re still hoping for joy, and we’re pivoting and pirouetting and taking all the precautions we can to ensure a safe and beautiful evening together. We really wanted to put Tragedy Ann and The Pairs on our stage because they absolutely love to sing, and they bring a delightful energy to the stage.

One of the things we really miss is gathering together. But some of us still aren’t ready to. And that’s ok. To make sure that peo......


** CANCELLED ** The Snow Moon Festival - theHumm January 2022

By Kris Riendeau

From the organizers of the Snow Moon Festival: "Unfortunately, after much discussion, we've made the difficult decision to postpone the festival to (February 4) 2023."

One thing is certain in these uncertain times — creativity is alive and flourishing in our area! Local venues have expanded patios, poured out into parking spaces, and even used hula hoops to socially-distance audience members keen to keep on experiencing the joys of live performances. Now that winter is upo......


Meet the Artist —Mireille Asselin, Soprano - theHumm January 2022

Internationally acclaimed soprano and Almonte resident Mireille Asselin returned home briefly after performing the role of Amore in the Vancouver Opera’s production of Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice, before setting off again to perform as a soloist in Handel’s masterpiece Messiah with the Rhode Island Symphony Orchestra. Mireille will be performing with pianist Frédéric Lacroix and violinist/violist Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh on January 16 at the Almonte Old Town Hall, in a ......


Bane of All Things — a Début Novel - theHumm January 2022

By John Pigeau

Growing up, Leo Valiquette was fond of fantastical stories. The Star Wars saga, Tolkien’s Middle Earth books, and classics like Charlotte’s Web — these were the made-up worlds Leo liked to inhabit. Later, in high school, he liked to make up stories and was admittedly “a Dungeon & Dragons nerd.” At some point, he fashioned himself a decent writer, too. Now, many years on, he has realized a lifelong dream and published his first novel, an epic fantasy called Bane ......


Carleton Place Library Reopens to the Public - theHumm January 2022

After a year-long renovation, the Carleton Place Public Library is open to the public again!

The updated interior features new meeting rooms, a laptop bar, new shelving and flooring throughout, energy-saving LED lighting, and fun reading cubbies for kids.

“The new interior is vibrant, accessible and welcoming,” explains library CEO Meriah Caswell. “We are thrilled to be able to welcome the community back to their library and want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during......


Almonte Lectures - theHumm January 2022

By Glenda Jones

Resolved: that the winter of 2022 will continue to provide interesting events.

Almonte Lectures continues to live up to that resolution. The live-streamed editions held on the last Friday evening of each month have proven very popular, with up to one hundred participants tuning in every session.

The winter series will kick off on January 28 with Kris Riendeau’s presentation on the history and value of community theatre. Well-known as the editor of theHumm, Kris has been on the stage at the Almont......


A New Year: Determined Action!
Lanark County Creates Its Climate Action Plan
- theHumm January 2022

By Chandler Swain

Ahhh, good old January. Our time-honoured month to make clear, focused goals. It’s very common to do this on a personal basis, wanting to improve our health and wellbeing and initiate or complete projects and plans. But the wider view of this concept includes setting goals for our community: most specifically in this very challenging time, those that address the Climate Crisis.

We are all aware of the crisis that is looming if we don’t take the steps necessary to make our county — Lanark Count......


Birdhouse Bonanza 2022 - theHumm January 2022

By Glenda Jones and Barb Carroll

Good news! The second annual online birdhouse auction, code name Birdhouse Bonanza, is coming in the last two weeks of April, 2022. This year’s proceeds will go to the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust to enable them to continue improving the High Lonesome Nature Reserve off Carbine Road in Pakenham. It is fitting that the MMLT is dedicating this event to the memory of the late Michael Macpherson who loved High Lonesome and worked diligently to protect this site during his lifetime.

The improvements at High Lonesome will include:



Not In My Back Yard?
An Ode to Community Gardens
- theHumm January 2022

By David Hinks

A community garden for every neighbourhood? There are many reasons why folks are turning their thoughts towards growing a few potatoes and carrots: global supply chain disruptions, extreme weather events, organic food untainted by chemicals, local food insecurity, just looking for a healthy outdoor activity, higher costs in the grocery store, more time on our hands for home projects, and the need to find something healthy for the kids to do are only a few!

So why grow food in a community ......


Mary Berry Comes to Carroll Side Road - theHumm January 2022

By Glenda Jones

Mary Berry, that paragon of pastry and smiling tourist guide, has chosen to visit our humble home for an upcoming “Notflix” series. It’s a little intimidating to think we’ll be up there with the Downton Abbey castle, but hey, this is our castle, so I’m sure I can haul out the stops to make her stay the epitome of elegance and social grace.

She arrived last Friday as it began to snow. Her limo pulled up and TV crews, cameras, cables and lights were everywhere as the three dogs exploded out the d......


Arts CP Call for Artists
- theHumm January 2022

Arts Carleton Place is looking for between 40 and 55 talented artists for their spring Fine Art Show & Sale. Taking place at the Carleton Place Arena from April 30 to May 1, this year’s show ......


Virtual Caregiver Training
- theHumm January 2022

A free five-week virtual Practical Caregiver Training Course is being offered to people living in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Counties. The goal is to make the caregiving experience safer and les......