by Sarah Poirier
With seven novels written, Brenda Chapman is doing what she loves — writing. As an acting senior communications advisor in the new Public Affairs, Consultations and Regions Branch, assigned to Health Policy Branch, Brenda is a strategic thinker and writer during the week, and a budding author on the weekend. For 15 years, Brenda was a special education teacher and loved interacting with youth, but she also wanted to work in the writing field. After completing a casual writer/editor term at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency nine years ago, she wrote her first book for her daughters, Lisa and Julia, who were 12 and 9 respectively at the time. When Julia finished reading the manuscript, she said, “Mom, you write just like a real author!” and Brenda thought she might be able to get it published.
Many authors say that the best writing comes from writing about what you know. Brenda has been able to draw from her experiences growing up in a small town and moving to the city. “I enjoy being able to draw from my past growing up in northern Ontario, which is where the second book is set,” says Brenda.
Book Review Excerpts
Hiding in Hawk’s Creek
“A Welcome Addition” – Midwest Book Review, August 2006
“A Page Turner” – Canadian Teacher Magazine, Winter 2005
Two novels, Running Scared and Hiding in Hawk’s Creek, have already been published by Napoleon Publishing in Toronto, and a third, Where Trouble Leads, is due out in spring 2007. These three novels are part of a series that centres around an adolescent girl named Jennifer Bannon. “Her parents have separated and her father reappears in town after being gone for two years,” explains Brenda. “Her mother works as a nurse, and Jennifer is often left to babysit her 10-year-old sister, Leslie. Not only does Jennifer have to cope with her parents and sister, but she’s also starting high school and not doing well.”
Since the three novels are mysteries, revealing the rest of the plot would spoil the suspense. A fourth novel in the series is currently with the publisher, pending acceptance. Brenda’s agent is also looking for a publisher for two adult mysteries, and Brenda has also just completed a stand-alone mystery, set in Minnesota and Ottawa.
After nine years in the government, Brenda is used to a lengthy approval process and many revisions for the communications products she develops at work. Creative writing is a simpler process, a negotiation between her and the editor, with Brenda having the final say. On weekends, Brenda wakes up early and devotes most of her time to creative writing. Usually she’s lucky and the words simply flow from the tips of her fingertips onto the computer screen. But, she admits, “Sometimes the housework suffers.”
Brenda’s thoughts on the most misused phrase today: “When people say something is ‘really unique’. There is no degree to uniqueness – it’s either unique or it’s not.”
Brenda’s thoughts on how new technologies influence reading habits: “I think people like to read and hold a book in their hands … video books are fine on occasion because they allow you to do work around the house or drive your car…. I don’t think I would ever read an e-book.”
You can find Brenda’s novels in major bookstores like Chapters, Indigo and Barnes & Noble, and smaller stores like Collected Works, Leishman Books and Prime Crime Books. On December 2, 2006, from 1 to 3 p.m., Brenda will be signing books at Shirley Leishman Books in Westgate Mall, Ottawa, Ontario. For more information, visit Brenda Chapman’s web site.