Hooked on history
By Suzanne Rent 24 October 2017 Share this story
After her seventh reading of the Outlander series, Genevieve Graham decided to write a book. She had never been interested in history, but that series brought her around. She didn’t have any experience writing. She studied the oboe and musical performance at the University of Toronto. She played in a few orchestras, before moving on to a new career in marketing and advertising. When the writing bug bit, she was a stay-at-home mom to two daughters and was in her early 40s.
But she stored herself away in a room with a computer and wrote 25 pages in a couple of hours. She let her husband read it. “He said, ‘Gee, that’s not bad,’” Graham says. “So, that’s where it came from.”
Those 25 pages turned into 150,000 words. She connected with other amateur writers and editors. One suggested she was ready to get an agent. She found one who sent her manuscript to Penguin. The publisher bought it and asked for a second book. That first book was Under the Same Sky and was published in 2012. A second, Sound of the Heart, followed, as did a third, Somewhere to Dream. She’s now working on a fourth.
“I was never a historian,” she says. “I slept through history class. I figured it was all from memorizing for exams. When I read the Outlander series and similar series after that, I realized not only do we have a fascinating history, but we have one so full of personalities, adventures, and personal stories, whether they are real or fictional, they can bring a story alive.”
She and her family moved to Nova Scotia in 2008, eventually settling in Musquodoboit Harbour. She loves the province’s history. She wrote Tides of Honour after she learned about the Halifax Explosion. It’s a love story about Danny Baker, a fisherman from East Jeddore and Audrey Poulin, an artist who “lived a wild life.”
Graham was in Calgary on a cross-country tour when she learned Tides of Honour made it to the Globe and Mail bestseller list. It stayed there for eight weeks.
Graham released Promise to Keep, set during the Acadian Expulsion, in 2017. She’s now working on the sequel to Tides of Honour, called Come From Away, which is scheduled for release in the spring of 2018. It’s the continuing story of the Baker family of East Jeddore, 20 years after the Halifax Explosion.
Graham says she hopes her books serve as a starting point for readers to discover more Canadian history. “Sure, we’re a mixing pot, but that mixing pot has brought out so many amazing stories, and to think of them being lost, we need to appreciate what we have here,” she says. “We have some really interesting people and some really interesting adventures that have happened all the way across the provinces.”
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.
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