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Local author's first novel strives to create strong female leads

'What really pushed me into writing it was the two main characters, who nagged me into setting down their story,' writer Pat Michener explains
Pat Michener holds a copy of her first novel Emma Madison, Master Meddler.

Many say they’re going to take up golf or write the Great Canadian Novel upon retirement.

Well, Pat Michener has opted for the latter with her first novel after a career in the corporate communications industry.

Tired of reading books where elderly folks were depicted as objects of pity or humour, Michener decided to write Emma Madison, Master Meddler which she notes features a strong, independent protagonist rather than a meek, older woman.

And once she had a character or two she felt she could run with, Michener didn’t look back.

“Have you ever seen or heard something and thought, ‘wow, what a story,’” Michener says.

“Obviously, you would have, but for me, it's more about people and their lives. When I was out walking my dog, these scenarios began to come together in bits and pieces and then big chunks and soon enough I had a book.

“But what really pushed me into writing it, because I was sick of writing and lazy, was the two main characters, Emma Madison and her niece Jasmine Holmes who nagged me into setting down their story.”

The story of Jasmine Holme and her aunt Emma came together over a three-year period and, at 600 pages, it was too large for a major publisher to take a chance on an unknown author, according to Michener.

So she eventually turned to Spark and Amazon after declining one publishing offer she says would have led to deep cuts to her manuscript.

“Author Joseph Boyden (Three Day Road, the Orenda) edited my book and was pushing me to get it published and putting in a good word with agents,” says Michener, who held an official book launch at the Midland Cultural Centre earlier this month.

Michener says the novel, which is available at Georgian Bay Books in downtown Midland along with Amazon and here, follows author/journalist Mark Bourrie’s sentiments that there’s really no point in writing a book that doesn’t tell a good story or one that is not driven by fascinating characters.

“I totally agree with him and so have a good plot and not too much of the flights of descriptive writing that a lot of authors indulge in,” Michener says.

Michener says Emma is an interesting character because “she is wise in the way you can only be when you’re full of years.

“She’s sharp, shrewd and subtle in her maneuvering of people and events with the aim of ensuring their happiness and well-being,” she adds. “She loves to laugh, and she’s loving and kind.”

While living in the Greater Toronto Area, Michener and her husband Bob had a country property in Vasey that they used as a weekend family retreat before moving to the area permanently.

“When my husband became ill with Alzheimer's, I worked with a local contractor to renovate our property in 2011,” she says. “Bob had some very happy years here. Midland is a beautiful area with nice people and great facilities for a city of its size.”

But when she and Bob moved to the Midland area some 10 years ago, Michener says they weren't sure what to expect.

While their retired friends in Toronto were busy enough, it wasn’t the same as what they found here with a generous community where people were so dedicated to giving back.

"We were amazed at the time and effort these men and women put into supporting their communities," she says, adding retired folks are a great resource to the community.

“Without them, churches, charities and the community in general wouldn't even function."

But despite its many advantages, Michener says she’s disturbed by the big uptick in homeless people and local people struggling.

Since arriving, Michener says she has taken an active role in the community and helps out at Sistema Huronia, Quest Art, St. Louis Church while also being involved with Probus and the women’s group Pursuits. She also recently starting assisting on the Huronia Community Foundation’s marketing committee.

Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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