Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Novel with a Twenty year Gestation period by: Gail MacMillan

I've always been fascinated by the history of my region of Northern New Brunswick. After writing two history books about the area and numerous magazine articles, I decided I had to capture the area's colorful past in fiction. I set out to tell the story of what happened to the Miramichi Valley when, in the 1840's , steamships were rapidly replacing the graceful windjammers, the construction of which was a major industry for residents. I'd barely begun my epic when I returned to 9 to 5 work to help support the family. Then I embarked on getting my university degree. And along the way, I still managed to write several hundred magazine articles and stories as well as three less ambitious romance novels.

Finally I graduated from university the same year that my eldest daughter received her degree in education. Not satisfied, I went on to do post graduate work at the University of Western Ontario in expository and narrative writing. Through it all I kept working on the labor of love that was my historical epic.

Eventually it was finished and I sent it off to an agent. She didn't reply for some time but months later sent a note saying she'd taken the novel to England because she thought a publisher there might be a fit. When it wasn't, she abandoned the manuscript. A second agent was enthusiastic at the start but eventually vanished, manuscript and all. Discouraged, I put the manuscript in a drawer.

Some years later I began working with editors at The Wild Rose Press. I mentioned my abandoned manuscript to one of them and she asked to see it. Now it had been written largely in pre-computer days so that meant I had to re-type all 150,000 words into e-mailable form. I'm nothing if not determined so I set to the task. Months and several severe edits later, my story finally appeared under the title of "Shadows of Love."

It had been twenty years start to finish and I'm not sure I'd have the stamina to do it all again. But I am happy to see finally out in the light of day.

Gail MacMillan
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