Award-winning Newfoundland author, Paul Butler is about to release his latest novel entitled The Good Doctor. While the book might centre around Sir Wilfred Grenfell, it isn’t a biography. In fact, what Paul has written is a rather thought-provoking twist on the generally accepted image of this iconic character from Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.
Last month, author Linda Abbott, published her first novel entitled The Loss of the Marion. Newfoundlanders among you may already be aware of the story, either from local folklore or the song by Simani recorded back in the ‘80s. For those who aren’t familiar, the Marion was a banking schooner that set sail from St. Jacques in Fortune Bay, Newfoundland on June 10, 1915. She was on her way to St. Pierre, but was never seen or heard from again. All 17 men on board perished.
Little is known about the ship’s last voyage, and it is from this mystery that Linda has woven her novel. She follows Nellie Myles, a crewman’s widow, on her search to find the truth about what happened to her husband and his vessel.
I was lucky enough to talk with Linda about her experiences writing the book, and getting it published. Here’s some of our conversation:
Where did you get the idea for this novel?
I’d always wanted to write a book and one day I heard the Simani song on the radio. It intrigued me, so I did some research about the Marion and its last trip. We don’t know much about what happened to it. I thought that made for a good story.
When did you write the book?
I started writing back in 2010. It took me about five months to finish it.
Yeah. I started a novel-writing course with Paul Butler and the book came out of that. But, I had to wait 18 months for it to be published.
Tell me more about the publishing process … why did you opt for the traditional publication method rather than self-publishing an ebook?
Honestly, self-publishing was never a serious consideration for me. I wanted my work to be recognized by the industry. When a publisher takes on a book, he believes it to have merit – it’s more professional, more credible.
Did you find an agent first, or approach the publisher directly?
No, I didn’t bother going the agent route. Actually it was Paul Butler who introduced me to Garry Cranford from Flanker Press – that’s who published “The Loss of the Marion”. Garry seemed to be interested in my story, so when I finished writing it I got in touch with him. He called me within a month of receiving my manuscript and offered me a publishing deal.
Did you enjoy the book launch?
Yes, but I was nervous. Apparently it’s the biggest turnout they’ve ever had. Chapters actually sold out of my books.
Are you working on any other projects now?
I’ve already finished a second manuscript – The Hull Home Fire. It’s based on a true story about a fire on Springdale Street in St. John’s. Twenty-two people died. And I’m working on a fantasy book for kids.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Any new writer needs to believe in themselves and in their work. Rejection can bring anyone down, but perseverance and determination will get you through the rough spots.
Linda’s novel The Loss of the Marion is available in stores throughout Newfoundland and from Flanker Press. She will signing books at Coles in the Village Mall, St. John’s, Newfoundland from 1:00pm – 3:00pm (NST), Sunday, September 16, 2012.