Two months after the publication of Arriving: 1909–1919, I received a delightful email from McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon. It read, “We saw the recent story in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix’s magazine, Bridges, about your new book. Would you be interested in selling it through McNally Robinson Booksellers? We have stores in Saskatoon and Winnipeg.”
So just a few months later, I found myself in Saskatoon preparing for an in-studio radio interview with CFCR Radio before an author signing with McNally Robinson on March 24. As I was driving to Saskatoon, it occurred to me that I haven’t made a solo journey back to Saskatchewan since spring 2002, the year I began the research for my Understanding Ursula trilogy.
Even in the midst of a snowstorm, it was not long before I began to experience the expansiveness and tranquility of the wide-open Canadian prairie. It always speaks to my soul. The occasional “real” elevator, the exact one-square-mile gravel road allowances, the faded red semi-collapsing barns, and the abandoned farmhouses, which I am invariably tempted to explore—all returned me to my roots on my grandparents’ homestead.
The past six months have been the busiest and most exhilarating of my life other than the birth of my two children decades ago. Ironically, I have undergone the same roller coaster of emotions with the release of my first novel: joy, excitement, wonder, doubt, apprehension, worry. Perhaps that’s not surprising. Whatever the endeavour—mothering my children, writing my trilogy, or promoting my book to potential readers—my commitment is total, from my heart. In that way, I am like Amelia Warner in Arriving.
As overwhelming as it has been at times, my venture into being a published author has been an incredible journey. So many people have said that they found my characters entertaining, fascinating, and dynamic; I can hardly believe how engrossed they have become with the Werner family. My youngest fans are two eight-year-old boys who have promised to read Arriving only with their mothers, and my eldest fan proudly announced that she will be 91 in June.
Fans of all ages are awed when I share that I have wanted to write since I was seven years old, and that my trilogy is a labour of love for my grandparents. Long before I crossed the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, I was flooded with wonderful memories about the two cherished people who were my childhood source of love, stability, and inspiration.
Thank you, McNally Robinson Booksellers, for bringing me back home to rejoice in the pristine spirit of the Saskatchewan prairie.