“Did you always want to write?” I would have to say this is the most common question I get. I respectfully answer that I really don’t know. To be completely frank, I don’t know where this came from. Like all teenagers, I used to dream about writing a wonderful novel one day, but somehow, that faded as I became preoccupied with concrete tasks associated with becoming a responsible adult. My twenties and thirties were a blur with balancing education, work, and family. Now, in my forties, I find myself gravitating back to a more abstract albeit whimsical way of being. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m having the time of my life. 🙂
One Sunday afternoon in the early spring of 2009, I sat down at my laptop. As I began to type, I had no idea what I was typing about and I was certainly not aware I was embarking on a love affair that I suspect will be life long. Honestly, I really don’t understand what truly inspired me as it all seems so surreal now. I began to let my mind wander and the storyline sprang from my fingers and magically left marks on my computer screen. I often tell people that I really can’t take credit for penning Aubrey as it seemed to write itself. That was the day I wrote the first page and last page of Aubrey. And with dozens and dozens of rewrites, those two pages never changed.
The title of my novel has generated some interest. While you have to read the novel to understand the significance of this title, I can share with you its origin. When I was training as a nurse practitioner, Dr. Aubrey Kassirer of Newcastle, Ontario was my first physician partner. He had the patience of Job and he trained me well. To this day, I will never forget GERD as a differential diagnosis and I do make playful reference to this condition early on in the novel. It is my way of honouring Dr. Kassirer for his kindness and so I named it after him. When speaking of Aubrey, it can sometimes get confusing whether I am referring to Aubrey, the book or Aubrey, the guy.
Many of my life experiences are evident in Aubrey. As a nurse practitioner by trade, I created the main character, also a nurse practitioner, named Gracie. She gets her name as a variation from my son, Greyson, who is one of my true loves. Greyson sold my very first novel to his Bowmanville High School French teacher. Way to go Greyson! The other great love of my life is Miranda, my beautiful and strong-willed daughter. She is currently enrolled at Lakehead University, Thunder Bay in the Concurrent Education French Program – Masters. Not too shabby!
During the nine months it took me to write Aubrey, I continued to work at a clinic. Dr. Jose Gomide was another physician partner and his office was next to mine. He never complained as I would torment him with weekly updates as pages turned into chapters over time. His infectious smile and ample words of encouragement helped me to return to my laptop again and again. Thank you Jose!
During the initial writing stages, it was sometimes hard to know if I was on the right track. I knew I was enjoying the characters I had created and often laughed out loud at some of the predicaments they found themselves in. Deb Day, Mark Ulrich and Kaitlin Roka were my guinea pigs and read the chapters as they came off the printer. Their comments were always positive and so I found myself seeking a more unbiased opinion as they were family. Aubrey Kassirer read my manuscript not once but twice. He provided me with ample feedback and I will be forever grateful for his redirection with respect to my inappropriate use of the word schmuck. Let’s just leave that one well enough alone for now.
In the fall of 2009, I joined a nine-month pilot project called the Unattached Patient Health Assessment (UPA) whereby I worked with a dynamic team of motivated individuals intent on boosting access to health care in the CELHIN. It was during this time that I met Dr. Mark Siegel and Sam Berman, lawyer and health care strategist. Mark was yet another physician partner of mine and was a delight to work with. He never seemed to tire of my antics and was forever asking about the progress of my manuscript. When the UPA pilot project finished in June, 2010, Aubrey was also finished. I remember buying chocolate cigars and passing them around to UPA staff members and anyone else in listening distance for that matter to celebrate the birth of my novel. Aubrey had finally arrived… or so I thought.
Have a listen to the Rural Medicine Show on CBC
After the wrap of the UPA pilot project, a friend and work colleague graciously offered his family cottage to me. At first, I was reluctant to accept this generous offer as the location was Little Pond, Prince Edward Island. I am so glad I took him up on his offer. My dog, Macey Moo and I landed in Charlottetown in late spring 2010 for approximately 3 weeks and the rest is history. Little Pond (or Little Puddle as I like to refer to it) is absolutely heaven! The little blue cottage is right on the ocean and the perfect place for a writer. It was here that I rewrote Aubrey to have the heroine hail from Little Pond, PEI. Thank you Cambridge!
In the fall of 2010, I had an opportunity to participate in a two-week Mediterranean Cruise with the TIM-BR MART corporation. I met the corporate team, various store owners and suppliers and they welcomed me as part of the TIM-BR MART family. What a fantastic group of people! Since then, several individuals have read my novel and offered their support. Thank you TIM-BR MART! The below photo shows myself with my fabulous niece, Kaitlin and Sergio… a marvelous maître d! You will notice I make reference to joist hangers in honour of the corporate representative I met who manufactured these valuable items. Do you know what a joist hanger is?
This summary would not be complete without a mention of the week-end Miranda and I spent in Boston in July, 2011. As Aubrey takes place predominantly in Boston, I felt I needed to actually walk around to be able to effectively capture its true flavour. The front cover needed a symbol of Boston and I felt I would know what that should be once I arrived. I was right! Wow! What a marvellous city. We took to the streets of Boston and talked to as many people as possible. I was impressed how Bostonians opened up to me and wanted to tell me their story. During our stay at the Boston Cambridge Marriott, we met a fabulous front desk clerk named Johnny. Once I got back to Ontario, I rewrote many sections of the novel to include specific references to Boston and I hope I have done Boston proud by my depiction of this fine city. The Zakim bridge is proudly displayed on the front cover. You will notice a small cameo of Johnny as well. 🙂
In closing, I would like to thank you. Thank you for allowing me to indulge in my passion. Thank you for all your emails of support. Thank you for allowing me to gush about imaginary, imperfect characters. Thank you for encouraging me not to settle. Thank you.
I truly hope you enjoy Aubrey, the first in a trilogy, which is….. to be continued.