Featuring Lisa Brideau, jan Fancy Hull, Cameron alam and Angela Ford
Why do your favourite Canadian authors write the books they write? Let’s find out in this exclusive feature here at The Miramichi Reader.
Lisa Brideau, Author of Adrift (Sourcebooks Landmark, May 2023)
Novels have so many ideas and origin points squished into them, so many overlapping and intertwined sources of inspiration. For Adrift, one of the key drivers was my curiosity around what would be left if all personal memories were lost. Such a juicy question wrapped up in that: where does our sense of self come from? If all autobiographical memory is gone, if we don’t remember any of the experiences that shaped us, did they still shape us? Are we the same person? How much of identity comes from our memories?
The beauty of speculative fiction is that you can pretend it’s possible for this type of memory loss to exist and then spend a novel exploring what it might look like and how a character afflicted in this way would struggle or triumph. How would one navigate the world without things learned from prior experiences, without experiential knowledge of social customs or street smarts that we operate on without realizing?
My debut novel, Adrift, is a story set on the coast of BC in the near future that follows a character whose autobiographical memory has been wiped – she remembers facts but all her experiences are gone. It digs into messy questions of identity and how we can form connections with others even when we’re still figuring ourselves out – things we can all relate to even without the amnesia problem. It’s also a galvanizing riddle about who is behind these targeted memory alterations; come for the adventure and suspense, stay for a bit of thinking about what makes us who we are.
Jan Fancy Hull, Author of April: Sweetland (Moose House Publications May, 2023)
Sequence is why I wrote April: Sweetland, my fourth Tim Brown Mystery. There will be a novel for each month of the year 1999, dea volente. “Sweetland” comes between March: Enigma and May: Façades (available Sept/23 from Moose House Publications).
My protagonist, Tim Brown, seeks to develop “delving” skills, though he is unsure what delving entails. He’s enjoying lunch with an acquaintance when a blowhard joins them. Tim is mis-introduced as an investigator. Eventually, he agrees to search for the man’s decades-old fishing camp.
What happens next was as much of a surprise to me as it will be to the reader. I don’t plot my stories. My characters act and react as you or I might do. I didn’t know the blowhard would appear or what he’d ask or what Tim would do in response. They talk, and I listen.
I do know Tim’s moral compass, his ambition, his good character, and his tendency to be impulsive sometimes (so useful) and I’m guided by these. He distrusts facts and trusts hunches. What he thinks about, I write down.
Searching for the old camp, Tim stumbles on a clear-cut area where silt runoff has ruined a former swimming hole. Can a blowhard become a good guy? Can nice people do dastardly things? Can a special stick be found in a devastated forest?
Tim’s free-range delving allows me to deal with important topics like land stewardship (and much more) with gentle humour. That’s why I wrote this story.
Each novel also touches on friends, family, wine and fine dining, and singing in the choir. Writing about all of that is the most fun I can have sitting down. That’s why I write.
Cameron alam, author of Anangokaa (Blackwater Press, April, 2023)
It was something in the water. The beryl-coloured waves of the Inner Hebrides rushed over the rocky shore like tongues whispering old tales. I walked along the Isle of Mull with only a meagre knowledge of the ancestor who left during the Highland Clearances— she was no more to me than a name on an old passenger list. After seven days wandering, I left too. On the deck of the ferry departing Flora’s island, the sky and sea were matching shades of slate blue. It was difficult to see the line we call a horizon, that illusion we focus our eyes upon to keep our senses tethered to a particular place when really we know the world goes on and on. It is then I felt this sorrow for her sorrows creep into my bones.
That feeling accompanied me home and soon I was travelling to the place Flora settled along the marshy shore of the Chenail Écarté, called Baldoon. The vast wilderness where she was orphaned so soon after her family’s arrival does not exist any longer, having been supplanted by a patchwork of wheat, corn, and soybean farms. The creeks and river were dredged and diverted over time into their present incarnation.
With a printed copy of the original settler lots, I located the land Flora’s husband-to-be was granted by Lord Selkirk after his indenture was satisfied. Beneath a molten sunset, I drove past one field which formed a peculiar swirl. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a few antiquated headstones in the midst of all that acreage, carefully circled around by a tractor among otherwise linear crops. A knock on the door— an Indigenous man answered, his raven-haired daughter peering at me from behind. No, those graves don’t go back quite as far as your ancestors, he said, but nearly, my people having bought the land from your people long ago, see there, he pointed out names on the record I’d brought with me. Oh, and your people’s log house forms part of our foundation.
This felt like an intriguing symmetry. I’d recently discovered that some of my long-ago people had become fluent in Anishinaabemowin, some may have been sheltered on Bkejwanong, the unceded territory of this farmer’s ancestors— also known as Walpole Island— after their homesteads were ravaged during the War of 1812, some of my people later lived on the island for reasons that are sorrowful.
I crossed the river to explore the First Nation. Walking along her banks I recognized there truly is something in the water— tongues whispering old tales. It is difficult to hear this narrative over the din of colonial history. Settler history. And so once I finished with the research and the archives, I tuned in, and I listened with an inner sense. I listened to the water and to the memory of water and I wrote Anangokaa as a process of uncovering memories which have been carefully kept alive, all this time.
Angel Ford, author of Healing Hearts Ranch (Independently Published, November 2021)
Over the years I’ve written in many genres, and always with a happily-ever-after.
Healing Hearts Ranch is a sweet, clean, wholesome romance dedicated to my Mom and Dad…my real-life fairy-tale couple.
Focused on family, friendships, choices in life, and the physical and emotional challenges faced. It also holds my love of horses and the beauty of all the seasons Mother Nature gives us.
A new beginning in the Spring.
The warmth of the Summer sun.
The harvest the Fall brings.
The magic the Winter provides for a sleigh ride in the snow.
Join me in Crystal Creek as the folks in this charming, small community come together because of a letter a great man left to his granddaughter. One that changes her life’s direction and opens her heart to love, and her doors to help heal the hearts of others…one hoof at a time.
Jack Willows was a great man. He always put others first and taught his granddaughter to do the same. Raine Willows left at eighteen to find her way in life. Seven years later, his death brings her back to the farm and her first love–the boy next door, Luke Daniels and an idea that had been her grandfather’s dream for her.
The lazy-hazy days of summer give way to endless views of vibrant colours during the harvest festivities. Kicking off the season’s opening game, the grand opening of the ranch, a horse show, and a homecoming dance. Love is in the air as their equine therapist meets a local farmer and remembers his name like its been engraved on her heart. Though their trainer deals with a past romantic issue, which may affect the opening of the ranch and her job.
Falling in love with someone is truly, a beautiful experience. Especially during the magical holiday season, warming your heart with a tranquil horseback ride through the wintry countryside, where the starry sky is filled with brilliant lights and the landscape is covered in a layer of snow. Inside is covered in twinkling lights, decked with stockings and holiday spreads dreamed up by the town folk of Crystal Creek.
This story is dedicated to the two most beautiful souls I call Mom and Dad for always being there for me. Teaching, guiding, and loving along my journey of life, through their wise words and their unconditional love. Family is a blessing.
My mom, Rita (Walsh) Ford is from Nordin and my dad, Harvey Ford, is from Whitney.
Thank you, Miramichi Reader, for allowing me to share what my story Healing Hearts Ranch is about and the reason I wrote it…for my real-life fairy-tale couple from the Miramichi! https://campsite.bio/angelafordromance
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.