About Heather

Heather has lived on a Canadian Gulf Island for most of her life, but when she was ten or so she lived on a farm in Southern Ontario and that experience is fictionalized in the Patti Stories. However, many of Patti's experiences are a blend of that setting and of raising her own family of three girls in a rural setting on Saltspring Island. These stories draw on the realities of both places and it is this that gives Heather's writing that extra ring of truth.

Heather has been a teacher, a CUSO volunteer in South America, and has sailed the Pacific in a wooden schooner. She has two BA s from the University of Victoria, in English and Psychology and in Creative Writing. She has also published poetry and magazine articles.

She is presently writing an adult novel set on the West Coast.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The real world of the Patti stories

In the first chapter of the first Patti book we are introduced to a reality that definitely has nothing to do with dragons or magic spells. Patti lives and grows in a real world, not in fantasy literature. On her parent's farm a mink has found a crack in the barn siding boards and killed all but one of the baby chickens the family was rearing. Dad and Jamie, her older brother, are staked out, shovels raised, waiting for it to return. And of course the curious creature does return and is killed in its turn. It must be so or it will return sometime later and kill more chicks. Mink will always find a way in. That is the reality of the situation.

Now, is this suitable subject matter for a children's book? Should not the reality of farm life be hidden away? I would say that there are lots of fairly grizzly things associated with farming, the making of food for the rest of us to buy from the meat counter for instance, that really does not need to be dwelt upon, but in this case we do need to meet the family and get a sense of their world. The reality is that these chicks if they had lived and produced eggs for sale would have contributed to the farm income. As both parents already work off-farm in the village bank and sawmill, the gentle farm life we might like to imagine is more a steady struggle to make ends meet. And yet they love the farm and the rich experience it provides for their family's life.

The Patti Stories strength lies in the author's skill in capturing the thoughts of children and placing them in realistic situations. And in Patti we have someone who thinks about and learns from her experiences. We all learn along with her.

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