On one of our recent bitterly cold winter days, I was listening to Christmas carols and reminiscing about my trilogy. My mind took me back to December 25, 2000, sitting in our family room opening gifts. When my daughter presented me with four squares of corkboard and then insisted on helping me hang them on the wall of my soon-to-be office, I knew the time was approaching for me to begin telling my story.
I had been stalling for far too long. From that blustery November day in 1997 when my sister’s telephone call had provided the final remaining piece of the puzzle, the die had been cast. In May 2001, I travelled to the original homestead and received the affirmation I’d been seeking; yet I had not written a single word, choosing instead to continue with my research.
The Internet was an invaluable tool; but since books have always been my medium, I became a frequent visitor to the St. Albert Public Library. To regain my sense of the Saskatchewan prairie, and of rural life, I purchased Sharon Butala’s The Perfection of the Morning and Wild Stone Heart. I fortuitously discovered and devoured the last print copy of Mary Hiemstra’s Gully Farm, a story of homesteading on the Canadian prairies.
Still, nursing was my major at university, not English. I had never taken a writing class or course in my life. What did I know about writing a novel? I do not share a familial history similar to Alice Munro’s, who said, “I was lucky in that every generation of our family for the past three hundred years seemed to produce somebody who went in for writing.” Then, a dear friend came to my rescue, by giving me Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, an author who teaches advanced writing in California.
Without a table of contents, a cast of characters, or an identifiable plot, on a spring day in 2002 I sat down at my computer, and the Werner family saga was born. During those early years when I maintained the illusion I was writing one book, I continued to work full-time on the south side of Edmonton. In short order, I became like Jessica Fletcher in the dated TV series Murder She Wrote, always scurrying about, desperate for a chance to write.
By the time I retired to deal with breast cancer, and then to assist with my grandson’s care, I had come to realize that my characters were compelling me on a long journey, which nine years later, on March 3, 2011, would become a trilogy. Then, when a traditional publishing house suggested that it would require two to three years to bring my first book to print, Roadie Books flourished with the challenge and launched Arriving: 1909-1919 within seven months of the series’ completion.
In rapid succession, Thriving: 1920-1939 was published in 2012, and Choosing: 1940-1989 in 2013. Understanding Ursula was researched, written, and published 12 years after the trilogy had begun.
As much as I have enjoyed the creative process of writing, it is you, all of my new personal connections—friends, readers, fans—who are my joy and wonder in being an author