Sunday, September 4, 2022

Art Imitating Life?

Write what you know. How has your life shaped your writing? And how has your writing shaped your life?

Brenda starting off the week.

Aside from the murdering nasties in my books, there probably isn't much of my writing that hasn't been shaped by my life. Books I've read, the news, conversations, places I've been, experiences, good and bad ... even looking after my daughters' dogs on occasion, all somehow creep into my stories.


I grew up in Terrace Bay, a small, isolated town of 2000 people in Northwestern Ontario, but have lived in Ottawa, a city of a million people for the greater part of my life. Small town and city scenarios abound in my books. In the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedurals, Officer Kala Stonechild moves from Nipigon/Red Rock (an hour away from my own home town in the North) to take a job on the force in Ottawa (my current home city). She's a duck out of water and homesick, much as I was when I first moved to Southern Ontario to go to university. I felt so bad for Stonechild that I moved her to Kingston in book two, Butterfly Kills, because she didn't fit in to the big city. Kingston, not coincidently, is the small city that I moved to when I came south for school.

My first series of four books were middle grade mysteries. The second in the series, Hiding in Hawk's Creek, is set in a fictional town but those who are familiar with Terrace Bay will know that this is my hometown with a pseudonym :-) 

Blind Date, first book in my new Hunter and Tate mystery series, ex-reporter turned podcaster Ella Tate lives in the neighbourhood I lived in before I met my husband. In fact, Ella lives in the same apartment, on the same street as I did. She has the same Polish landlord Alex whom I put into the book as himself. Alex died a number of years ago, and I know he'd be tickled by this small tribute.

For the second part of this week's question, how has my writing shaped my life, I suppose it's given me a focus and a creative outlet that I wouldn't have experienced otherwise. The dreaming, writing, editing, publicity, events, marketing ... have consumed the better part of my life these past 25 years or so. Writing has brought me to new cities: Baltimore, Phoenix, Monterey, Victoria, Vancouver, Washington, Cleveland, Muncie ... most places I likely would never have gone if it weren't for book conferences. Writing has also been my introduction to so many interesting, talented people, many of whom have become friends. It's widened my world in countless, beautiful ways.

Left Coast Crime in Monterey - travelling up the Big Sur

Writing has also taught me the value of perseverance and hard work, the necessary ingredients in this business. I've also learned to believe in myself, even when faced with disappointment and rejection. Cherishing the highs and shrugging off the lows -- perhaps these have been the most important lessons writing has taught me, and ones that continue to shape me moving forward.


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Dietrich Kalteis said...

Well said Brenda, "Cherishing the highs and shrugging off the lows." And thanks for bringing back George and his pal Trooper.

Gabriel Valjan said...

A great way to start off a Monday when the weather here in Boston is overcast and dreary. I agree with Dietrich's response: writing is an exercise in persistence in which we learn our strong we really are.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich and Gabriel! Always good to see those happy, shiny puppy faces :-)

Catriona McPherson said...

Such a thoughtful post, Brenda. Thank you, Cx

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Catriona :-)