A big part of a writer’s life is squirreling away projects, giving them time to breathe and ripen before bringing them out into the open enough to revise and rewrite (and rewrite…) till they’re ready for a reader to enjoy. It can take years for a story to come to fruition, longer still for it to find its way into the necessary hands. I was first inspired to write about Camille Claudel when my very first group of students at NSCAD told me her story. I soon learned there was more to it than its tragedy–her affair with Rodin, her descent into madness, the last 30 years of her life spent in an asylum for the insane. From the beginning it was obvious that her glorious artwork–typical of narrative-based sculpture of Belle Epoque France but with a distinctive, timeless edge–outshone the limits of her biography, certainly the bare bones of it. What followed, for me, were three research trips to France, the first of which landed me in Paris on opening day of the first major exhibition of her work–better late than never, 65 years after her death–and the third of which took me to Poitiers, city of my ancestors, whose museum houses the largest permanent collection of her work. Safe to say, these ten years I’ve been more than a little obsessed.
Meanwhile, also forthcoming this year, are stories in RiddleFenceand a Pottersfield Press anthology of *love stories*–a piece entitled “The Race,” inspired by a friend’s grandmother who was a marathon swimmer, and “The Vagabond Lover,” inspired by my much-loved aunt, now deceased, who lived to be almost 107 and made the most of every minute.
So many inspiring women, so many stories and tales to be told, and never enough time. For the writer, work never stops. I’ve got plenty to occupy me for my next round of writerly hibernation: a new novel about contemporary characters set in Halifax, a fresh collection of short fiction, and a poetry manuscript exploring my French Canadian ancestry, a long line of individuals including one of the original filles du roi.
Oh yes, and my fifth novel, The Offing, set in WW2-era Nova Scotia, is presently being considered for publication. Fingers crossed, my friends!