In January of 2014, I decided I needed a new challenge.
I’d written five novels for young people and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. But I was beginning to feel I was in a rut. Four of the books were set in Newfoundland. Four of them had bullying as a major theme. Was I a one-trick pony? (Writers often ask themselves the sort of questions you don’t really want to be answered. Or is it only me?)
So…I embarked on a medieval novel for young adults set in England. I read and read. Fortunately, the library of Dalhousie University has a huge medieval collection. I went to Wales and England to do research in September of 2014 (luckily my son did the driving on the left-hand side of the road, better for the safety of all concerned). I read and read and read some more, and started buying books, many of which were out of print. In January of 2015, I took the plunge, opened a file on the computer, and started writing. By May, I was beginning to realize the book was for adults. Another of those nasty questions reared its head: Who do you think you are, trying to write for adults?
I’m now at 83,000 words, the end is hovering somewhere in the distance, and my hope is to finish the writing by the end of 2016.
This is a long way of saying there will be no more books by Jill MacLean for the next year or more – a very different pace from the last few years. But I’m having fun, I’m a fount of useless information, and the characters are very much alive. Oh, yes, and it’s definitely a challenge.
At the 2014 Atlantic Book Awards, held in Charlottetown on May 21st, Nix Minus One received the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature. Yes, I was very happy!
This is a wonderful affirmation of a book that was both challenging and rewarding to write.
My thanks to the Brimer family for their longtime support of this award, and to all the many organizers of the event.
The reception prior to the ceremony, at The Merchant Man, was filled with familiar faces (and very good food!), and it was enlivening to be in the company of so many fine writers – including, of course, Jan Coates (The Power of Harmony) and Meghan Marentette (The Stowaways), also nominated for the Brimer for their strong, heart-warming books.
Oh, and I wanted to bring all balloons home with me!
For a complete list of all the winners, click here.
Jackie Halsey (Bluenose Adventure), Jan Coates and Jill at the reception
The Icelandic horses are everywhere but in the interior “deserts”. Beautiful animals, the very same breed brought from Norway in the ninth century.
The Icelanders are very careful to protect their horses from diseases from outside the country – no “foreign” horses are allowed to enter, and if you bring in riding gear, you have to have it disinfected.
On my last day, I rode one of the horses for an hour and a half. They have five gaits: walk, tölt, trot, pace, and gallop. I didn’t do the last two, as they’re very fast and I didn’t want to invite disaster!
I came home from three and a half weeks in Iceland just over a week ago.
What a trip! What a country!
I’ve never been anywhere where the violence that shaped the landscape is so overt.
It’s a landscape of volcanoes (active and otherwise, at least two overdue for an eruption), of glaciers and snow, of highland deserts, of waterfalls, of geothermal areas where black mudpots boil and boiling water bursts out of the ground…utterly amazing.
Also Icelandic horses, many many sheep, gorgeous wildflowers, and birds everywhere.
Lava from a 1973 eruption on the Westmann Islands
The people are friendly, and most speak English.
I learned how to say “Góðin taggin” (good day) and “Takk fyrir” (thank you) and “Bless” (goodbye).
I even learned how to pronounce “Eyafjallajökull” the volcano that erupted in 2010 and disrupted international air traffic because of the huge clouds of ash.
Oh yes, and I took over 1100 photos.
First tour was the south coast.
House Buried In The Ash
A few photos, with captions.
The glacier at the foot of the volcano Eyafjallajokull
Horses Running From Ash When Eyafjallajokull Erupted In 2010