Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In her first novel, A Canoer of Shorelines, Anne M. Smith-Nochasak weaves together the stories, dreams and hopes of Julie Martin and Rachel Hardy, who both have an attachment to the old farm at Meadowbrook Acres. Dreams are a big part of life here and the creaking house becomes a "dream house," swollen with stories that haunt them both.
Rural settings in North Queens County and Kejimkujik National Park form the backdrop for this fictional journey and readers from the area will recognize locations like Jeremy Bay.
A retired teacher, Smith-Nochasak feels that her writing journey was well worth the trip.
"It is exciting in a sense. It feels very satisfying to have come this far and be part of conversations," Smith-Nochasak said, adding she recently had some conversations with readers through Facebook.
"We were exchanging stories and people were asking different things about the book, and it was kinda neat. I would like for people to have conversations about it, and I would like to be a part of those conversations, and that can be my measure of success," she said.
The 366-page novel that she self-published through FriesenPress is now available for order from various online book retailers, including the FriesenPress Bookstore and Amazon. It's also available locally in Queens County at Caledonia Pharmachoice and through the author.
"I didn't sit down and say I would write this book. It more or less started as a project. I wanted to write. I like the idea of writing," Smith-Nochasak said. "This particular concept came to me when we were looking at the old farmhouse I grew up in, and I said people must have gone crazy in here, because I'm sure it's haunted. Wouldn't that be a nice idea for a story?"
The book didn't turn out to be a mystery, she explained, adding that the writing journey took her back to her roots.
She started writing down scenarios and jotting notes while spending summers in a cabin years ago. She began putting together Hardy's character through journal entries, then it all evolved into a larger story as more characters were introduced.
Woven with fiction, the story is lightly taken from some of her own experiences as a child living in a farmhouse in South Brookfield and the adventures she had as a teacher in remote northern parts of Ontario, Nunavut and Quebec.
She tried to take the "positive inspiration that I grew up with and celebrate that," through her book.
Once she got into her "writing space," she was able to see the world through the eyes of her characters.
"I found immersing myself into the writing process was very enjoyable," said the novice author.
Smith-Nochasak now is working on the hardest part of her journey, which she says is far out of her comfort zone - trying to be an "authorpreneur" while promoting her book.
Meanwhile, a second book is in the preliminary stages of being formed around the idea of a long-term love association that works its way through pandemic times.
Smith-Nochasak retired officially from teaching in January and calls the northern part of Molega Lake home. She enjoys canoeing, kayaking, hiking and spending time with her two dogs.