Great to be here, Anna. I’ve always been fascinated by the colorful history of my homeland, north eastern New Brunswick. Over the years I’ve written two local history books and numerous articles on the subject but that still didn’t satisfy my need to excite readers about the remarkable people and events of our region’s past. Consequently I set out to write a sweeping saga loosely based on a leading family of the Miramichi area during the turbulent years of the late 1840’s. This was the era when steam ships were rapidly replacing the windjammers. The building of sailing ships had been a major industry along the Miramichi and this change proved a major blow to the local economy and heralded the financial demise of the family depicted in the story, the patriarch of which stubbornly refused to change with the times.
After I’d made this decision, I became caught up in writing magazine articles, working full days as an administrative assistant, and studying at night to complete my university degree. I didn’t give up. Whenever there was a vacant half hour, a morning when getting up an hour early could provide time, I was back at the story which, at that time, I’d entitled “Winds of Change.”
The years slipped away. I managed to graduate from university the same spring my eldest daughter got her degree in education. That should have freed up more time but I’d decided to do post graduate in expository and narrative writing at the University of Western Ontario. Then, finally, with magazine markets becoming fewer and these studies finished, I got seriously back at the story.
Ten years after I started the project, I finally felt it was ready to ship off in pursuit of an agent. That was when the adventure began. The first agent, without consulting me, took the manuscript to England and only when she returned and confessed she’d failed to make a sale did I learn of what she’d done…no contract involved. Seemingly annoyed by her lack of success, she stopped corresponding. I believe I got the manuscript (in those days before e-mail) a month or so later. Then a second agent offered to represent the story. At first she was enthusiastic but this energy waned quickly until finally she stopped responding to my queries and vanished. I never did locate her…or my manuscript.
Discouraged, I banished the story to a desk drawer where it was to languish for a decade. Then, one day after I’d been writing for my present publisher for a couple of years, I mentioned the story to my editor. She asked to see it but by then it had to be computerized. So I set out on the daunting task to type this 100,000 word tale into e-mailable form. As I tapped away, I had to keep reminding myself of all the great authors who created masterpieces by candlelight with quill pens to put my task in some kind of prospective.
The end result, after several extensive edits, was that The Wild Rose Press published the story under the revised title “Shadows of Love”, not as a historical romance but as women’s fiction. Its content was judged too serious to come under the same genre as my usual lighter, brighter yarns. The book that was conceived over twenty years ago was finally born and my dream of a story set in my region’s amazing past realized.