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Gwen Tuinman

NOVELIST

The Auction Barn

Last fall, my husband and I moved to a rural one-acre property in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes region. Farmers fields surround us and from every direction we see where the earth and sky meet. At night, stars are visible in the natural darkness and howling coyotes often lull us to sleep.

We also found unexpected pleasure in a local auction barn nestled on a nearby sideroad. About once a month, a blend of antique and contemporary pieces is auctioned off. Visiting there is a writer’s field trip. I’m always on the lookout for artifacts I might incorporate into my novels or short stories. We’ve seen Model-T Fords, Persian rugs, rustic cross-country skis, 200-yr-old furnishings, dishware, and collectibles.

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Writing and Waiting

Writing involves a lot of waiting. If you’re a fiction writer, you know exactly what I mean. First we wait for the spark of an idea, that miraculous vibration felt in our core when a song or an image or a turn of phrase tells us this is the one. This is the kernel of truth upon which we can build more truths and a fully inhabited world. Yes, this could be a novel. We snatch up the nearest pen and paper to jot ideas before they dissipate. To miss recording them would mean more waiting.

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Scots in Nova Scotia

I’m currently writing a novel set in Nova Scotia which translated means New Scotland. The Canadian province is revered for its rich Scottish culture. Here I’m sharing an early sweep of research that’s helping me establish the underpinnings of my Scottish characters.

As early as the 15th and 16th centuries, Scots adventured to England, Scandinavia, France, Germany and Russia in search of better lives. The first Scottish immigrants arrived in the 1600s to settle Nova Scotia. After the 1746 defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden, many Jacobites crossed the Atlantic for a new life in the Thirteen Colonies. Following the American Revolution, the majority of the Scots who supported the British king, fled the Thirteen Colonies migrated as Loyalists to Nova Scotia (or New Brunswick and Québec).

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