Amy Stuart is the girl next door, the hockey mom, the teacher and someone I would LOVE to have join my book club for an evening! As an aspiring writer, it was inspiring to hear that she had participated in the Muskoka Novel Marathon Weekend, almost 7 years ago, writing the first 50 pages of Still Mine which spent 10 weeks on the Canadian Bestseller List.
It was very interesting to hear about the process for the Muskoka Novel Marathon weekend where writers can only bring one 8.5 x 11 piece of paper with research and ideas. Stuart arrived with 5 bullet points yet was able to accomplish 50 pages during the weekend. She added to these pages as part of her Master of Fine Arts program at UBC leading to Still Mine. At the time, she said that she did not know who did it, that “plotting is fun” and that she has learned that “you don’t need to know how you are going to get there but you do need to know the end point”.
Still Mine was inspired by a news story about a woman who wandered into the woods, disappearing from a family barbecue. The story did not become news until 3 weeks after she went missing and she never turned up. This clipped article inspired Amy to think of the missing persons stories that we don’t hear about. The mountain setting also came from the article which is interesting since Amy grew up in Toronto far from the mountains and their starkness and isolation.
Stuart laughed when she described the life of an author as “track pants” and defined how different, solitary and quiet her world has become during her LOA from teaching as she writes the next book. She was excited to get out and present at the Grimsby Author Series and how unique it is to read in front of a such a large group.
Amy provided a reading of the first chapter of her book from a well-warn copy which her friends and family had signed at her book launch. I am glad that I had finished the book during my reading marathon on Sunday and had an opportunity to ask about what she was working on. She shared that she is working on a sequel including the characters of Clare and Malcolm.
A question was asked about whether she pictured her characters as certain actors. She laughed and said that she had been having trouble keeping track of the characters. In fact, her mentor, Lisa Moore, had told her that all the male characters had beards and that she kept describing Malcom with different colours of hair. To focus, she began to picture Malcolm as Michael Fassbender and Clare as Natalie Portman. She chuckled that her mom and her aunt have spent a lot of time matching the characters to actors should it ever become a movie.
Another question was asked about the name of the book and she admitted that her working title had been Still Gone. This was during the time of Gone Girl so when her editor suggested Still Mine, it stuck and was fitting related to the sense of possession that Clare’s husband felt as well as the defunct mine of Blackmore.
It was fantastic to meet Amy Stuart. She was inspiring and kept everyone engaged. If there were people sitting in the audience who had not read the book, I bet that they will be seeking it out. I appreciated a few minutes to chat with her and have my book signed and look forward to reading her next novel!