2016 has been a good year. Although, after 2015 went out with a dreadful bang, I wasn’t sure how it would shape up. In December 2015, I sold my beloved stone cottage in the Haliburton Highlands, and the decision to sell was a difficult one. I loved my retreat on Saskatchewan Lake, and the Highlands township with its granite rock formations and its waterways, but maintaining two homes had become too much work. I had to choose between them, and Ed, my husband, is a city boy. What more can I say?
I must have subconsciously wanted to make my departure as difficult as possible, and this resulted in a terrible fall down stairs when I was alone at the cottage. I missed my footing when I was carrying down a large bag of bedding. For weeks, I looked like a battered wife, my face black and blue, the muscles in my arms and legs and shoulders aching. A bruise on my leg became infected, and I couldn’t leave home for weeks. To say the year ended badly would be an understatement.
Six months later, Raven Lake, my third Pat Tierney mystery, was released. And it was the major highlight of my 2016. The novel was inspired by my summers in the Highlands, and it is my tribute to a very special part of the world: there are kayaks; a chain of lakes; the fictional town of Braeloch, which is a composite of Minden and Haliburton Village; the storage lockers in the village of Carnarvon; the Dominion Hotel; the sport of snowmobile skipping; and much more.
Although I am no longer a Highlands property owner, I’m keeping my ties with the area. Ed and I rented a cottage on beautiful Boshkung Lake for a week in July, and I discovered a sweet little bed and breakfast in Haliburton Village where I spent a few days in August, and to which I hope to return in 2017.
And the Highlands community continued to back a writer who has set two mysteries in the
area. (Black Water, my second Pat Tierney mystery, took Pat to Braeloch for the first time.) After Raven Lake was released, The Minden Times interviewed me for a third time. As did the community radio station, Canoe FM. These two media outlets have supported all three Pat Tierney novels.
The Raven Lake in my novel is a fictional lake, not the real Raven Lake off Highway 35 south of Dorset. But several Raven Lake cottagers liked the reference and purchased the book. When I arrived for the book launch at Toronto’s Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore on June 25, I was told by the store’s co-owner Marian Misters that the president of the Raven Lake Cottagers Association had just ordered six copies.
In the fall, the Haliburton Highlands Writers and Editors Network invited me to give a workshop on novel writing for its members. It was held October 15 at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre.
Have you ever noticed that when one door closes, another opens? In 2016, I was no longer dividing my life between my home in Toronto and the stone cottage on Lake Saskatchewan, which freed up more of my time. Which was a bonus, because in January 2016, I started teaching novel writing at George Brown College in Toronto. Working with students who are seriously honing their writing (Novel II, my course, is designed for students who have already taken a beginning level course) is exhilarating, but takes a lot of my time. Two hours of each three-hour class are devoted to workshopping students’ writing. And that means a lot of reading each week.
Novel II: How to Develop Your Novel starts up again on Jan. 10.