Former resident takes pages from her past for books on fictional farmstead
Morgan Ian Adams/Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin Former Nottawasaga Township resident Carolyn Morris has released her fourth book on the adventures of a farming family; she draws on her own experiences growing up on a farm on the 10th Line for her writing.
A woman who grew up in the area has tapped into her childhood experiences for a series of books based on rural living.
Carolyn Morris grew up on a farm on the 10th Line in former Nottawasaga Township; her latest book, Chickadees at Christmas, follows the continuing story of a young boy — now at the mid-point of his teens — coming to terms with the death of his father, and the relationship he has with his grandparents.
It’s Morris’ fourth book; she began writing her first novel, Mourning Dove, in 2006, after her husband and daughter gave her a laptop for Christmas. It was published in 2011.
“I suppose I’ve always been one to scribble,” said Morris, who is now a teacher. “My husband and daughter gave me a laptop and I started writing... it became quite an exciting journey.
“I think all writers draw from their experience — what they know, either their experience or education. Mine is definitely from experience growing up on the family farm with my sisters and my brother.”
She started writing her second, Barn Swallows, while her first novel was still on the press.
In fact, all her novels are named after birds, which, in one way or another, play a role in her books — and the rural community in which her characters live.
“When I started writing my second book, two of my characters are in the barn forking manure, and talking about barn swallows, because there is always barn swallows on the farm, so that became the name of the second book,” she said.
Her third book was titled Pine Warbler, after the birds that populated the pine bush at the back of her fictional farm.
“When I was writing Pine Warbler, I realized how exciting it would be to bring all my characters together to celebrate a traditional Canadian Christmas,” she said.
In her first book, the protagonist, Billy, had recently lost his father, and had gone to his grandparents to spend a summer. In her fourth book, Billy is now 15, still thinks of his father, while learning to accept his mother’s new husband. Chickadees at Christmas chronicles his ongoing adventures while he prepares for the holiday season by making presents for his mother and stepfather at the home of his grandparents.
Morris said this will be the last book in this particular series.
“At this point, it’s the final book of the series; the characters are 15 years old, and they’re growing up, and I think it’s time just to let the reader use their imagination and let the characters go,” she said.
While the books are geared to teens, Morris has received a positive reaction from all ages.
“I have a group of home-schooling educators who use the books as read-alouds,” she said. “I have a group of (Italian grandmothers) who really enjoy my books because English is their second language, so they’re able to read these books with great ease.
“I have a group of seniors who love my books because they’re set on the farm and they have those fond memories, as well as the relationship between Billy and his grandparents.
Morris publishes the books through her own company, Railfence Books (www.railfencebooks.com).
“I’m the writer, publishing company, promotions manager and the top sales gal,” she said with a laugh.
“But I have tremendous support from family and friends.”
Morris’ books are available online through Amazon and Indigo, and locally at the Curiousity House bookstore in Creemore.