Saturday, 16 July 2022

The Story Behind the Story with Anne-Marie Mawhiney of Sudbury ON, Canada.


Let’s welcome Anne-Marie to the Scribbler.
Her debut novel – Spindrifts – is receiving a lot of favourable attention and reviews.

Here’s what one reviewer wrote: “Such intelligent writing. I was captivated. Highly recommended!”

Anne-Marie is kind enough to share her story behind the story, so read on, my friends.

A-M Mawhiney is a fifth generation settler who lives in Sudbury, Ontario with Dave McGill and their canine companion Charlie, in the territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek in the Robinson-Huron Treaty area.

Book Title: Spindrifts

Synopsis: Racism, climate change, and violence are in the past. But are there secrets lurking in the shadows of the Land of Hope? What truth about the past is being covered up?

When fifteen year old Fania returns from Immersion, she is shattered to learn that the next phase of her education is at home with her granny Alicia. She had hoped for something far grander that would prepare her for an Important role with the Earth Project. Their two strong personalities clash as Fania begins to learn more about the past and her family’s role in it.

As Fania grows in confidence and power, she starts to wonder exactly what secrets Alicia is keeping in her underground lab. After Fania discovers the truth, she finds her calling that has the power to change everything.

The Story Behind the Story: In March 2020, like others all over the world, my normal routine stopped, and I became immersed media coverage of the pandemic. It seemed obvious to me the pandemic was one additional symptom of climate change.

I realized I was becoming so caught up in the media coverage of the events swirling around the early days of the pandemic that it was not healthy for me. I searched for something that could give the tragedies in 2020 some meaning, something to serve as an inspiration for change and hope.

One day I decided to start a journal of my experiences of life during a pandemic, but to my surprise the first sentence in the novel Spindrifts flowed from my finger tips. I had done no creative writing since high school, but I decided to see where my creative side would take me. Much to my surprise I found myself writing a novel.

The words poured out and, when they stopped, long walks with my canine companion, Charlie, would bring new ideas. For several months I wrote, walked Charlie, stared into space, and ate the wonderful meals Dave made. It was a great escape from the realities around us, as Dave and I stayed in isolation even from family members during the « bubble » times.

In July 2020, I was accepted into the Humber College Summer Writing Virtual Workshop. This was an excellent way to receive thoughtful feedback from our instructor, Alissa York and my peers in our small group. In the workshop on how to get published, I learned that finding an agent and a publisher for traditional publishing could take up to ten years! But I felt some urgency to have my story out in the world, and found Friesen Press through a google search. Within 24 hours of downloading their materials I was contacted by someone there who explained how their services worked.

I completed my first draft in the spring of 2021, went through the usual revision steps, guided by feedback from my editor, some friends, and my writers group formed from writers I had met at the Humber Workshop — we still meet virtually every two weeks.

Spindrifts was published a November 15, 2021, the same day of unprecedented flooding in British Columbia Canada, a clear sign of climate change. At least I think so.

My goal in writing Spindrifts was to inspire readers to consider ways they can each contribute to a healthier planet. My vision of hope for the future, through this fantasy that takes place 50-60 years from now, will inevitably provoke discussion and critique, which I hope compel each reader to consider what their own vision of hope for the future looks like, so they can work toward it.

I am currently working on a sequel.


A question for you before you go, Anne-Marie.

What is your favorite part of writing and the part you enjoy the least?

My favorite parts of writing are when my characters take over. In writing Spindrifts I was a panster— I would sit at the computer and see where my imagination would take me. But a few times I had ideas for a particular scene in mind, and by the end of my writing that part I realized the characters had take me in a different direction, one that would turn out to be significant later on in the story. So, for example, one character who was supposed to play a small but significant role and then leave, liked it so much in the Land of Hope she wound up staying, playing a more prominent role; and she is part of the sequel.

The part of writing I like the least is when I run out of ideas and need to pause until I am inspired by a spark of an idea. There is a sense of worry about whether I will break through the dry spell. With experience I am starting to realize writing has a personal rhythm and the pauses will lead to more ideas that flow better than trying to force myself. My writing is much easier as process when the ideas are sparking.

Thank you for sharing the story behind the story, Anne-Marie. All the best in your writing journey.

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