Gwen Tuinman



Gwen Tuinman

Gwen Tuinman is a novelist, born and raised in rural southern Ontario. Fascinated by the landscape of human tenacity, she writes about people navigating the social restrictions of their era. Her storytelling is influenced by an interest in bygone days. As a mentor, she helps women writers to shed emotional armour so they can reclaim their self-expression, dream bigger and learn to guide themselves through new creative risks. Gwen lives in the Kawartha Lakes region with her husband. Her forthcoming novel will be published in the spring of 2024 by Random House Canada.

Steamship Travel in Early Canada

Since childhood, I’ve been interested in the “olden days” and how people lived. As a historical fiction author, I take delight in curating facts and impressions about people’s daily lives and how the times in which they lived impacted them. You can imagine the extensive research required to construct a believable world within a novel. For history lovers, this aspect of writing is pleasurable work.

This being said, I’ve been learning about steamship travel in Canada in the 1800s and early 1900s. What might my characters encounter aboard such ships? I’d imagined grunge and simplicity at every turn.

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A Reflection: If We Saw Souls Instead of Bodies

IF WE SAW SOULS INSTEAD OF BODIES is the title of an essay by author Brianna Wiest and appears in her book 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think. I quickly noted that the entire piece consisted of questions. Before reading further, I stared into the pine trees outside my window. Would my questions look much different from hers? Don’t we humans yearn for the same emotional comforts? I pulled a chair snug to my desk, closed my eyes and started typing. The following is my reflection.

If we saw souls instead of bodies, wouldn’t we see flares of colour—yellow for loneliness, orange for traumatized, blue for discouragement—as signs that we’re among people who understand our own isolation, wounds and hopelessness and mightn’t we reach out a hand to help and be helped? Are we so different from one another? If our souls were on our outsides shining the full spectrum of colour, couldn’t we lose sight of differences and love each other better?

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Book Memories

I recently had a conversation with a friend’s young grandsons, while visiting an independent bookstore to celebrate the launch of a fellow writer’s novel. One of the boys commented that, except for Chapters-Indigo, he’d never been in a bookshop. The children were impressed by the variety of available books and the general ambience of the space.

Their wonderment took me back to remembrances of my childhood book encounters. I recall my family owning a small selection of Dr. Zeus books, Green Eggs and Ham being my favourite, and a few Golden Story Books. As was common then, my parents, on their modest income, didn’t own adult fiction books.

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