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A Coast Lines conversation

A Q&A with Coast Lines featured author Perry Chafe

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

Perry Chafe (BA ’92) is an award-winning producer, writer, showrunner, songwriter and bestselling novelist.

Mr. Chafe was the co-creator and co-showrunner for the TV series Republic of Doyle, which ran for six seasons on the CBC.

He was also an executive producer and writer for the Netflix/Discovery series Frontier, starring Jason Momoa. In addition, he was an executive producer and writer for Caught, a CBC limited series based on Lisa Moore’s award-winning novel of the same name.

Mr. Chafe is currently a writer and producer on the hit CBC series Son of a Critch, based on the best-selling memoir by Mark Critch.

He released his debut novel Closer By Sea on May 23, 2023. Published by Simon and Schuster Canada, it became an instant national bestseller.

Exactly one year later, CBC announced a 10-episode order of Saint-Pierre, an hour-long procedural series that Mr. Chafe co-created. It will be part of CBC’s 2025 winter lineup. He will serve as the show’s executive producer and senior writer.

Closer by Sea is the current Coast Lines Book Club selection for May and June 2024.

JH: Where did your interest in writing come from/when did it begin?

PC: It started at an early age, growing up in the ’70s and early ’80s in my hometown of Petty Harbour.

Smiling man in black clothing looks a camera with blurred background
Perry Chafe (BA ’92) is an award-winning producer, writer, showrunner, songwriter and bestselling novelist.
Photo: David Howells

Still to this day, some of the greatest storytellers I’ve ever heard were fishers. They’d masterfully spin tale tales on the wharfs, stages and around many a kitchen table. It was infectious.

But for me, writing as a career came later in life. I was in my late 30s when I began writing professionally, starting with Republic of Doyle, a TV series I co-created for the CBC.

JH: How has your education at Memorial University informed your perspective/world view?

PC: Coming from such a small community, Memorial University really opened up my world in a life-altering way.

The entire experience, from the courses to the students and faculty, provided me with new perspectives and viewpoints.

JH: What takeaway do you hope stays with readers of Closer by Sea?

PC: I hope that this coming-of-age story resonates with readers and that they feel a sense of connection to a special time and place.

Closer By Sea was a very personal journey for me since I drew on many of my own experiences growing up in a small town, so I really hope that both the characters and setting linger a little in the minds of the reader after they finish the novel.

JH: What is your Newfoundland and Labrador hidden gem?

PC: I’d have to say the East Coast Trail. It’s truly spectacular.

Especially the Petty Harbour portion in Maddox Cove. You can hike along the coastline of the North Atlantic as well as spend time in the woods. It offers you the very best of both worlds.

There are also trails and paths that run up behind Petty Harbour that offer incredible views of the historic community.

Upcoming event

Mr. Chafe will appear with Michael Crummey (BA ’87) at Coast Lines and Coffee on Sunday, July 28, at the Emera Innovation Exchange, Signal Hill Campus, in a discussion moderated by Angela Antle (BA’91, PhD candidate).

Register for this special event here.

Copies of Closer by Sea are available through Memorial University Bookstore at this link.

Established in 2020, the Coast Lines Book Club encourages the university community and friends to connect through a common love of reading and interest in the Newfoundland and Labrador literary landscape. All of the book club’s featured titles are either written by alumni and/or faculty, or have a strong connection to Memorial University. Visit the website for more information on Coast Lines and how to join.

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