Region is “the most beautiful area I’ve ever seen in my life,” Andrew Pender says
Romantic Niagara-on-the-Lake was the optimal setting for American author Andrew Pender’s love story, “19 Strings for the Harp.”
“It’s the most beautiful area I’ve ever seen in my life,” Pender says of the Niagara region.
His love of Niagara and the contrast between NOTL and Niagara Falls inspired the story and the personalities of his main characters, Nektarios “Nick” Strings and Natalie Harp.
“Nick represents more of Niagara Falls. He has this beauty with him, but he’s so destructive. If you approach him too much it can hurt. Like Niagara Falls. You can’t get too close to the falls,” he says.
Natalie, on the other hand, is soft and beautiful, with a past.
“Natalie represents more of Niagara-on-the-Lake and she’s very beautiful. She’s very soft. But like Niagara-on-the-Lake, it has a past. It’s not always squeaky clean. There is a lot of history to it,” he says.
The story chronicles the “public and humiliating downfall” of the protagonist and the journey through his own past, mental health struggles and serendipitous meeting with Natalie.
The self-published book is Pender’s first foray into novel writing, though he is no stranger to pouring his heart out onto paper.
Initially from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Pender moved to South Beach, Miami, with his father when he was about 10. He says that is where his love for poetry began.
“My father had this apartment in an Art Deco building right on South Beach, a couple blocks from Ocean Drive,” he says.
“So many nights, I would sit on the balcony and just write poetry. Or go on the beach and write or go on top of buildings and write. I loved the vibe,” he says.
That love for poetry carried into his novel. Each chapter begins with a poem written by the protagonist and foreshadows the events of the following pages.
“If I could give you an analogy, it would be like listening to an album. So if you open up a CD case, you read the lyrics to the song. And then you listen to an interview with the artist and the artist tells you OK, this is what happened and led to those lyrics. That’s essentially the book.”
Pender, who works in the lab at Strong Memorial Hospital, in Rochester, says he felt a connection with Niagara from the first time he visited.
Drawn to the destructive beauty of the falls and serene nature of NOTL, he says he knew it was where he wanted to set his story.
“There’s something so unique about Niagara. I went to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the first time in 2011 and I just fell in love with the architecture, the people, the wineries. I had never seen anything like it.”
And although he was raised in the warmer climate of Florida, he says winter in Niagara offers a comfort like no other.
“I find that my best writing is actually done in the winter. I have actually said this in the book too, that I feel the heart gets warmer the colder it is outside.”
Pender says most people know him as a “sports guy” and wouldn’t know he is actually “a huge dreamer.”
“It’s funny because as much as I love sports, people really don’t know that I have such an artistic side. I love acting. And I love writing,” he says.
That artistic side is prevalent in his debut novel, which can be purchased through Amazon.ca. Search on “19 strings for the harp.”