Making Up the Gods

Cover image by Thunder Bay collage artist
Erin Stewart

MAKING UP THE GODS, released in October 2023 by Latitude 46 Publishing, joins their extensive list of literature focused on northern Ontario


Full of humour and heart, Marion Agnew’s debut novel is both a love letter to northern Ontario, and a moving meditation on grief, community, and family—the one we are born with, and the one we choose. No matter where you are in the world, reading Making Up the Gods will make you feel like you are standing on the shores of Lake Superior, and, like the memory of skipping rocks across the water or spotting the silhouette of a bear on the horizon, this story and these characters will stay with you for a long time.

Amy Jones, author of We're All in This Together and Pebble & Dove

How do we learn to trust in the wake of sudden tragedy? In Making Up the Gods, three grieving strangers—an elderly widow, a young boy, and a middle-aged alcoholic in tenuous recovery—meet on the cusp of spring at a lakeside camp to face down their ghosts, their fears, and a pair of hungry bears. In the process, they forge connection, friendship, even something like family. This wise, funny, and generous-hearted novel shows us how shared labour and shared love for a distinctive landscape can become a vehicle for healing, mutual understanding, and growth.

Susan Olding, author of Big Reader 

Marion Agnew gathers together a cast of unlikely characters and sets them on the shore of Lake Superior with their ghosts. While each of them holds on to the past, like a collection of rocks plucked from the shore, it's their connection to each other that helps them find the strength to surrender their loss like stones returned to the sea. A heartwarming story of grief, love and hope, the healing power of community and the creation of family through shared experiences, friendship and trust. You'll be charmed by Chen, cherish Simone and cheer for Martin as their lives intersect in Making Up the Gods. A welcome addition to stories set in Northwestern Ontario where characters draw strength and inspiration from the inland sea that is Lake Superior.

Jean E. Pendziwol, bestselling author of The Lightkeeper's Daughters

A description:

Simone, a retired widow, would live a quiet and isolated life, if not for the lingering spirits of her family. One day, Simone is visited at her home by a man named Martin claiming to be her cousin. When Martin asks if Simone is willing to sell her cottage by the lake, a proposition made sweeter by the prospect of a condo in Florida, Simone, though pleased at the thought of a cousin, also questions his intentions. From what part of her past has Martin emerged, and why now? The burden of making a decision is all the more difficult because Simone has agreed to take care of a friend's nine-year-old boy, Chen, for a short time while his mother enjoys a much-needed vacation. Simone finds her match in Chen, a curious boy grieving the loss of his father and stepbrother in an accident that has shaken the entire community. Can Simone hide her ability to see her family ghosts? Will Martin succeed in extorting Simone's beloved home--and worse, is he a danger to Chen? Because of Chen and Martin, Simone is caught between her ties to the past and her desire to embrace the company of the living.

Power Q&A at River Street Writing (print): why I keep writing about grief 

Jacqui Just Chatters: Story Share Series, collaboration with Bookish Flights (podcast): in which I share my love for the book Mrs. Miniver and why I used a quote as the epigraph in MAKING UP THE GODS. 

Palma's Picks at Global News Vancouver (live TV): dementia and grief

At the Ampersand Review's Book Lovers Bulletin Board (brief review): called "quietly beautiful" and "filled with hope," which I very much appreciate!

The Walleye Eye to Eye (podcast; episode 17): the generosity of readers, what I'm reading myself, how I feel about trains, my most treasured possession, and why I'm leery of putting people I admire on a pedestal yet find inspiration from the greater community.

The Walleye (print excerpt of podcast interview; page 62): Readers, books, trains, and chainsaws, oh my.

Cruising into Thunder Bay, at Northern Ontario Travel: in which Bonnie Schiedel mentions my book in the same sentence as Jean E. Pendziwol's The Lightkeeper's Daughters and Jane Urquhart's The Underpainter!

Interview with Jonathan Pinto at CBC Sudbury's Up North, in which I describe how important I think stories are: Marion Agnew releases "Making Up The Gods" | Up North with Jonathan Pinto | Live Radio | CBC Listen 

Conversation with Emily Thiroux Threatt, host of the Grief and Happiness Podcast, ranging from the value of writing as a tool for working through grief to the possibility of abandoning writing projects (especially when some projects just won't let you go).