I had the opportunity to read the review of Anne’s novel – A Canoer of Shorelines - on The Miramichi Reader. See it HERE. The title alone piqued my interest and I decided to follow Anne on Twitter, hoping to discover more about her and her writing.
I’ve since invited her to share the Story Behind the Story and she has graciously accepted.
Let’s meet Anne.
I grew up in rural Nova Scotia and did many things before turning to teaching. For most of my teaching years, I worked in northern and Indigenous communities, places of joy and learning for me. I now live full-time in Nova Scotia. A Canoer of Shorelines is my first novel, written summers at my shoreline retreat and revised winters over several years. My WIP is a fictional story of incompatible youthful love that is recreated in maturity, in the North and elsewhere.
Title: A Canoer of Shorelines
Synopsis:How will you know when you have arrived if your life keeps going in so many directions?
A Canoer of Shorelines weaves together the stories of Julie Martin and Rachel Hardy, who both have a childhood attachment to Meadowbrook Acres and try to reinvent their lives there as adults. When Rachel fails to recreate her home and come to terms with her family there, she flees to her cabin to make sense of her life through her journal. Julie in the present narrative has dreams for her cherished landmark but learns that more than paint and mowing will be required. Dreams come to dominate Julie's time at Meadowbrook Acres; she is touched by her landlord’s past and begins to dream a sweet and sentimental world for him. The dreams darken, though, and overlap at times with the stories and thoughts of Rachel. The house itself is not the dream home they sought; it becomes instead a “dream house” swollen with stories that haunt them both. These stories take on new meanings as they stumble to find their place in the world.
Both struggle with family relationships: There are moments of light and of darkness in Rachel’s journal as she journeys through the world of her mother, Rose. For Julie, her own quest is linked to her parents’ struggle for self-realization. For both, there is the guiding wisdom of Laila.
The pivotal experiences take place at the old farm, but along the shoreline the key lessons are learned. To be a “canoer of shorelines” one does not need skill or gear or even paddles; one needs only an appreciation of the beauty of the moment.
The Story Behind the Story:
I grew up in a creaking old farmhouse where unexplained sounds and lights were part of the character of the house. My mother lived there alone in her senior years while her health gradually declined. Brooding over my past one summer afternoon, I decided that this could be a thriller: a solitary protagonist struggling for survival in a haunted farmhouse…... However, as I began to write, the characters would not allow this. Through them, I came to realize that this was a story of forgiveness, love, and acceptance. Through them, I came to understand my own roots better, and to learn that I, too, had a place in the world, there among those who “hold you in their hearts whether they understand you or not.” The characters are fictional, but they are inspired by flashes of memory and feeling; through them, I have tried to affirm and bless the people of home.
A question before you go, Anne.
What’s been the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable about your writing journey?
The most enjoyable parts of the writing journey have been entering the world of my characters and sharing that world with others. I looked forward to summer afternoons immersed in the lives of Rachel and Julie; editing on winter afternoons was also a delightful retreat. A story is, however, also shaped by its audience. As I connected with readers at a personal level, I came to understand my story better. Their questions, reflections, and ideas have been a gift.
The hardest part for me was facing promotions. Like the character Julie, I am not comfortable out there. I could generate paperwork, but I was terrified of encountering its recipients. In the local markets, I discovered a world that was kind and supportive. The online writing community has been wonderful. Bookstores and libraries welcome authors of all walks of life; genuine reviewers and readers encourage you and participate in your journey. There really are “friends from all walks of life to see you strong.”
When I lived summers on a lake near Kejimkujuk Park, I rose each morning to see the sun rising across the water. As "wasaya" is an Ojibway-Cree term meaning "beautiful sunrise", my cove became Wasaya to me. I shared it with the character Rachel, because it seemed to suit her.
A note from Anne:
A note from Anne:
Thank you, Anne, for sharing your thoughts with our readers. Wishing you continued success in your writing journey.
Thank you also to my devoted visitors and readers. Please take a moment and leave a comment. Would love to hear from you.