Tuesday, March 29, 2011
TUESDAY BRINGS TROUBLE
A Writing Jezebel
Like a girl playing the field, I’ve flirted with various writing genres, target age groups and formats. I’ve so far dodged the decision to marry one project to the exclusion of all others. It’s been a quest to discover if I’m the settling down kind or a gal who has to keep her options open.
The first book I wrote was a picture book about a flying rabbit. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but sadly, it never found a publisher. I went from there to writing four young adult mysteries – the Jennifer Bannon series – but I have to admit that I was never faithful. Between manuscripts, I wrote short stories for the adult audience and began dabbling in adult mystery novels.
Last fall, my first full-length adult murder mystery In Winter’s Grip hit the shelves. Even with this satisfying success, I turned back to the young adult genre, penning a story about a fifteen-year-old girl and her summer during the Vietnam era. Entitled Second Chances, this novel is due out from Dundurn next spring. This year, I also turned to Orca and wrote The Second Wife for their Rapid Reads series of high comprehension/low vocabulary books for adults with literacy problems or adults who would like a quick read.
The Second Wife is being released this month. It is the story of forty-five year old Gwen Lake, a divorced desk cop with a boring job and an unfulfilling life. She sacrificed her own intelligence for nine-to-five security, believing her marriage to be enough – that is until her husband left her for another woman. When a murder hits close to home, it is the impetus that she needs to rise out of her lethargy. Gwen Lake as a character is someone I would like as a friend; she’s funny, loyal and creative. She’s proof that a middle-aged woman can find new challenges and find fulfillment even when the future looks bleak.
Currently, I am working on a full length adult mystery that I hope will become a series. Once again, I’ve fallen for my main characters and would like to spend some time with them, hopefully for a few years to come. I might even decide to settle down for a while. Perhaps it is time.
Seriously though, I believe each of these disparate projects have been part of my apprenticeship to becoming a better writer. I’ve learned from each manuscript and have been captivated by every story. Perhaps I’m a bit like Gwen Lake in this; when the chance to stretch my horizons arrives, I can’t resist the challenge.
Brenda Chapman is the Ottawa author of the Jennifer Bannon mystery series for young adults. Hiding in Hawk’s Creek, the second novel in the series, was shortlisted by the Canadian Association of Children’s Librarians for the 2006 Book of the Year for Children Award.
Brenda has also written several short stories that were published in an anthology (When Boomers Go Bad, RendezVous Crime 2004) and various magazines. In Winter’s Grip is Brenda’s first adult murder mystery. When not writing, Brenda works as a senior communications advisor in the federal government.