May 2022 will mark the long-awaited debut of Bradford resident Ann Clarke as an author.
In her novel, Insatiable Annie: Reckless and Loose on the Streets of Toronto, Clarke takes readers back to Toronto in the '70s to recount her personal journey from troubled teen to empowered woman.
“As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to write a novel,” she said.
Clarke enjoyed reading murder mysteries and thought about writing something in that genre, but until two years ago it never occurred to her to write a novel based on her own life as a child, teenager, and young woman.
“I was sorting out my storage closet and I came across a dusty box of my decades-old journals. I began to read through them, and it was then that an idea came to me," she said.
As Clarke wondered if there could possibly be a story in the journals that women could relate to, she decided to transcribe her journals into chronological files on her laptop. Then, less than a year later, she produced her very first manuscript.
“Every person has a story. Insatiable Annie: Reckless and Loose on the Streets of Toronto is mine," she said.
The novel combines complicated feelings associated with childhood sexual assault, verbal and physical abuse, and the suicide of a former lover with light-hearted moments of achievement, like successfully completing a business program and getting a job as a receptionist.
Clarke's main goal was to write a book that women of all ages would enjoy reading, but it also became more than that.
“I wanted to achieve an emotional connection with other women who may have experienced similar situations and outcomes. I put the very good, the very bad, and everything in between into my book," she said.
Every bit of her story is true, except for the names of all the characters and certain establishments in Toronto.
Clarke grew up in Toronto and North York and lived in Aurora before moving to Bradford four years ago to be closer to her mother who turns 87 this year.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, Clarke was laid off from her job and started thinking about leaving the workforce and retiring. That’s when she started her novel.
“I am basically retired now and I don’t know if I could have dedicated the necessary time to writing a manuscript if I was still working at a full-time job," she said.
She enjoyed the routine and work-life balance brought by her new venture.
“I wrote my manuscript while helping my mother, attending Zumba classes, and playing pickleball when the restrictions were lifted at the Bradford Leisure Centre," she said.
Clarke welcomes readers to visit her website (www.amclarkebooks.com) to find out where they can purchase her book, which is scheduled to be released next month.
As she looks into arranging events to promote her debut novel, her next book is underway.
“I have many more past journals at my disposal. I have actually started on my second book," she said.
For would-be authors, she has this piece of advice: “You’re never too old to write that novel.”