When I was asked to write an origin story, I was sure how to tackle it. I don’t feel like my life is exciting. I hear other stories about how authors were inspired to write that sound so much more exciting than my…I just always knew.
I can say that story telling did run in my family, though I never got to hear my paternal grandfather’s stories, but he was a frontier man. Born in 1885 (yes, 1885 for context he was 61 when my father was born), he left home at the age of twelve to work on building the rail roads across Canada and most importantly, to the north.
He was there when the famous Group of Seven artist Tom Thompson was murdered. Tom was a friend of his, they both had trap lines through Algonquin.
And he helped lay the foundation of the Polar Bear Express railroad that runs from Cochrane Ontario to Moosenee, Ontario. My father said his father was a story teller.
My Dad said that one of his biggest regrets was not having a tape recorder to record his father’s stories. And he said that for as long as I could remember and from that moment I could remember, I always had stories in my head.
My grandfather died 11 years before I was born, yet I feel this sense of kinship with that story teller and when my father had to downsize to move in with my brother he bequeathed me the most precious gift of all…his father’s Underwood that travelled the north with him.
The thing is made of iron, so I don’t know how he carried this on his back all through the woods of northern Ontario.
I grew up not knowing much about my paternal family and I think that sparked some interest in story telling. I wanted to know more. My Input and Learner are in my top 10 Clifton Strengths for those who follow Strengths of Writers.
There was a missing piece.
And that piece was an identity that had to be hidden. My Metis heritage and as I grew more into my story telling and writing, I wanted to write more about families like my father. About characters who looked like my Dad. My Dad who had to hide who he was, who didn’t get to learn much about his heritage out loud or learn his language. My Dad played an important part in my desire to write. Although he doesn’t think so.
My Dad always jokes that it would take him months to write a page, so even though he wasn’t a natural story teller like his father, he gave me something else. He gave me the love of reading.
Every night he read to me and I grew up surrounded by books. Mostly books written by Robert A. Heinlein and Asimov, or nonfiction books about Midway and Harley Davidsons, but my Dad gave me this great gift in loving stories.
And when I was eight, I read Anne of Green Gables and had a realization that L.M Montgomery was a real person and that you could have a job as a writer. He told me that. He told me all those authors I loved, the authors he loved were real people.
It was from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do.
I was going to be a writer.
It was the dream. Always.
I spent a few years getting sidetracked by guidance counsellors or teachers who thought it was a silly career aspiration to have, yet the stories kept coming out of me. I made up ridiculous stories about my friend groups in high schools that were passed between my besties.
The stories never stopped.
I got married, had my daughter. Stories were always there and I would jot down stuff when she napped, but I was afraid of failure. Afraid of losing. What if I didn’t have what it took?
And then came my second kid.
Who almost died.
And as I sat by his bedside, hoping for a miracle…I wrote. Only this time, I was going to take a chance. I would face rejection, because staring at my baby and realizing he may not live, like was too short to not LIVE. To not take chances.
A year later, when he was one, I sold to Ellora’s Cave.
I had done it. I was a story teller.
In 2013 I sold my first book to Harlequin, also a dream as it was my Mom and Nanny’s favourite things to read. I’m thankful my Mom got to read my first books, but my Nanny never did. Cancer took them both too soon.
And my Dad reads them. He’s so proud. And now my books are displayed on the shelve next to Heinlein. Although, we both write COMPLETELY different stuff.
It’s been a rough few years for me, so much loss, my diagnosis of autism and coming to learn how to navigate the world, but the stories don’t stop. They sometimes pause, but they keep coming, because I was always meant to do this.
So that’s me. Grand daughter of a frontier’s man, who is still learning her Metis heritage and still learning how to navigate my autism diagnosis, while mothering a son on the spectrum. We’re both very similar, so honestly when my diagnosis came down it wasn’t a shock.
I don’t think I could ever stop writing.
And I wouldn’t want it any other way. xo