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My Story

by Mary Mason, about 3 years ago

Writing has always been what I do. As an undergrad on The Varsity in the old days when we published the paper ourselves overnight on the U of T press in the basement of the Chem building, then as an art, music and drama critic on the Hamilton Spectator, on and on as a contributing editor to a few magazines, Canadian and US, a commissioned biography of Samuel Weir Q.C. and then an award winning book about my father, the composer Healey Willan, published by Words in Print.

Upon finding an English translation of a short history, published in Montreal in 1883, of Marie Anne Lagimoniere, the first white woman to venture into the middle of the North American continent in 1806, I did considerable research and concluded that a novel based on so extraordinary a life would be of interest.

I worked on it on and off between assignments for some years. John Parry, owner of Words in Print, edited it. At his encouragement I offered it to various Canadian publishers - Penguin took two years to turn it down and others were dismissive over long periods of time.

Perhaps I should have offered it to American publishers, but at the age of 96, I realized that waiting years for a decision is not an option.

So I self published The Hivernante Marie Anne Lajimoniere The First

White Woman in the West in 2015 under the i-Universe label.

In 2016 The Hivernante won the IPPY gold medal for Canada West last May in Chicago.

Alas, it appears that the vanity press output is not made available in Canadian libraries, although my other books have been popular. The Hivernante is not stocked in Canadian book shops and is available only through Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

Naively I thought the vivid account of so plucky a Canadian woman would be of interest and my fondest wish is still that some Canadian publisher might be adventurous enough to give this medal winner a try, especially in 2017.

Curiously, although I have written the book from a woman's point of view about a woman, the most enthusiastic comments for The Hivernante have been from male readers and not my family nor close friends, I assure you.

So here you are, a sad little story.

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