Special to the Record
Brenda Corey Dunne loves the beach.
She grew up in rural New Brunswick and has lived in Nova Scotia more than once. There’s a special place in her heart for Prince Edward Island. So it might not be a big surprise that her newest novel is set on P.E.I. and features a main character named Ocean.
What may come as a surprise, though, is that this novel is young adult paranormal fiction involving selkies, mythical creatures that take on seal and human form. It’s a departure from her last book, the raw and emotional novel Dependent about a military wife who tries to reclaim her life after her husband’s sudden death while struggling with a terrible secret she has held onto for 25 years, which was published in 2014. And it’s not even anything like her first novel, a historical fiction novel called Treasure in the Flame, which came out in 2012.
But that’s because Dunne is writing for herself, because she loves to write.
“I’m not very good at sticking to one genre,” she said with a laugh. “That makes it kind of hard in the traditional publishing world; they tend to pigeonhole you into one type of genre, and I’m doing it for me. I’m writing for me and for my family, so I tend to just write what I want to write, much to my poor long-suffering agent’s chagrin.”
Love of landscape
Dunne says that the idea for this novel really came from her love for the landscape.
“We moved to the West Coast from the eastern area and I grew up in New Brunswick, so I was in New Brunswick all of my formative years and we used to go to Prince Edward Island frequently,” she said. “And then we were posted to Nova Scotia for two different postings and we would take the kids and go to Prince Edward Island and take the kids. I really love it there. It’s so rural and so beautiful. It just kind of hit me, wouldn’t it be cool if someone from a city came to Prince Edward Island and stumbled into a world they didn’t know existed.”
Dunne wrote the manuscript for Skin in 2012 as part of a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. Dunne has found a lot of value in participating in NaNoWriMo, and she says it helped her get focused while she was writing this book. Treasure in the Flame was a NaNoWriMo book as well, and she finished Dependent during NaNoWriMo.
“It’s just one of those pushes to finish something and have a finished product, and it gives you permission to do what you need to do, because writing, especially in a lifestyle like mine, it’s near impossible to find the time to really focus and you need to do that,” she said. “So that’s why with NaNoWriMo, I can say ‘I have to finish. By the end of this month, I want to have a finished product’ and my children and my husband accept that.
“But I think it’s more me, that I allow myself the ability to say ‘I’m writing all day today, all day tomorrow, you name it. If I have free time, I’m writing.’ And I think I need that. I definitely need that because so many other things get in the way.”
Dunne currently works part-time as a physiotherapist. She is president and founder of the Comox Military Wives Choir, a military spouse – she is married to 19 Wing Comox Base Commander Col. Tom Dunne – and a mother to three teenagers.
She says it can be hard to fit writing into her busy life, but she finds it easier if she schedules it into her day. It also helps that her family has always been very supportive when she needs to take time to work on a book.
“I do work really well with a lot going on because I tend to organize better,” she said. “Tom is amazingly supportive of my writing career. He does all the PR for me and he’s very good.
“My children are extremely supportive. They’re good at giving me pointers, but they’re also supportive and I’m very appreciative of that.”
Dunne will celebrate the launch of Skin June 2 at 7 p.m. at Laughing Oyster Bookshop.
She will be doing a few small readings and will be giving a door prize of a Laughing Oyster gift certificate, as well as a free book. The book launch is part of this year’s Elevate Arts Festival.
Skin is being indie-published on Fortunate Frog Fiction. The novel will be available wherever books are sold, including Laughing Oyster Bookshop and Blue Heron Books, and you can ask bookstores to bring it in if they don’t have it in stock.
When Skin comes out, Dunne will also be doing a blog tour. Follow her blog (brendacoreydunne.blogspot.ca), Facebook page (facebook.com/brendacoreydunneauthor) or Twitter (twitter.com/overdunne) to learn more.