During the big rewrite/revision/edit of The Witches of New York an important milestone came and went. I didn’t exactly miss it, I just didn’t have time to stop and acknowledge it, (at least not in any way that felt fitting or right.) Now that the manuscript for Witches has gone into “pages” (the magical process where the story gets arranged by the wonderful crew at Knopf Canada into the actual pages of a book,) I can take some time to yank the weeds from my garden and my brain, and think on all the things I pushed aside while I was immersed in a world of witch-lore, women’s history and 19th century New York.
This past spring marked ten years since my debut novel, The Birth House was first published. The morning that fact actually hit me, I felt much the way a parent does on their child’s birthday…filled with gratitude, puzzlement and wonder. Turning to my dear Mr. McKay I asked, “how is that possible? where did the time go?” A few days before, I’d paused briefly in the shoulder of that most stubborn of Nova Scotia seasons to do as I always do that time of year and “force” a few branches of pussy willow and forsythia to break their sleep a bit early in the warmth of my kitchen. Setting a copy of The Birth House next to my morning cup of tea and a pile of bananagram tiles, I snapped the above anniversary photo. (Writing tip: bananagram tiles are excellent for making anagrams of character names. 😉 )
Although it’s a bit late, I wanted to mention the anniversary in a post so I could take a moment and say THANK YOU to everyone who has read my “little book that could.” Thank you to every book club who has chosen to discuss it over the years. I’m honoured and grateful for your readership. Heaven knows there are so many good books out there and far too little time to read them all! Thank you to every bookseller and librarian who has championed my work over the years and placed my novels lovingly and enthusiastically in the hands of readers. Thank you to all the women who have shared the Birth House within their circles of friends and said “you must read this”. Thank you to all the men who have acknowledged the strength in the character of Dora Rare and argued that tales told in women’s voices are for EVERYONE. Thank you to all the mothers who have shared Dora’s story with their daughters. I wrote The Birth House with my mother in mind as my ideal reader. She was the first storyteller in my life and I’m so thankful that she got to hold a finished copy of the book in her hands before she passed.
My dear friends at The Ross Creek Centre for the Arts are celebrating their own special anniversary in 2016. It’s been 25 years since the centre was founded and this summer’s line up with Two Planks and a Passion Theatre is one you won’t want to miss. Along with an outdoor production of David Van Belle’s Liberation Days and an innovative, fireside retelling of the history of the “ghost ship,” Mary Celeste, they’re also offering a new reading series dubbed “Fireside Encounters.”
What are Fireside Encounters? Four Nova Scotia authors on four different evenings sitting with an audience around a campfire to read, tell stories and talk about their work.
I’m thrilled to be a part of this series in its first year and can’t wait to sit around the fire with you to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of The Birth House (and share a preview of my upcoming book!) The Witches of New York won’t be published until late October, so if you want a behind-the-scenes first look, this is the place to be. I can’t think of a better setting to talk about Victorian tales of the supernatural and 19th century witch-lore. (Seating is limited, so you may want to book your tickets soon…see info below. You can take in a performance of Liberation Days earlier in the evening and then stay for the fireside, or just come for the reading. If you’re a lit-nerd like me, you may want to attend all four!)
2016 Fireside Encounters at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts
July 14 Christy Ann Conlin (author of Heave and The Memento)
July 21 Sue Goyette (author of Ocean and The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl)
August 4 Ami McKay (author of The Birth House, The Virgin Cure, The Witches of New York)
August 10 Alexander MacLeod (author of Light Lifting)
Click here to book tickets (you’ll need to scroll down the page for Fireside Encounters) or call: 902.582.3842
Hope to see you around the fire!