Every parent’s nightmare. Keep tissues close and your kids closer.
Tide’s End by Meredith Egan released in January in the Contemporary Fiction genre.
Taylor Smythe dreams of having a loving family. But first, he has to rescue his little sister Jenny from the gritty underbelly of the child cyberporn industry. Taylor journeys from homelessness in the inner city to a community in the dripping forests of the Pacific Northwest to confront the relentless pounding of his fiercest pain. Can he become the big brother Jenny needs right now, and for the rest of their lives? Tide’s End explores the many faces of sexual assault and human trafficking, and how life can shatter for those most affected – the victims. Because #MeToo is more common than we can imagine. As is #ChildrenToo and even #BoysToo. It tears apart our families and neighbourhoods. And wherever there is suffering, there are guardians and helpers who still the relentless pounding to encourage Tide’s End.
“Welcome, everyone. I’m Rosie, and I’m honoured to be here today,” she said, and she waved the long stick she was holding, getting us to stand. It had a carving of a big, black bird on the top and was painted bright colours. There was a large crystal in it, and some feathers fluttered from a ribbon. I liked it, I decided.
“Let’s start this evening in a good way, with a prayer,” she said. A prayer? Weird.
“Thank you, Creator, for bringing us together tonight. Thank you for the journeys that brought us here, especially the good bits.” She asked for kindness on our “healing journey,” and open hearts and minds and other stuff. Then she said something I won’t forget.
“Creator, we ask you to remind us to believe each other as much as we want to be believed. And to show us new ways to make sense of what happened to us. Help us find a way to go back into the world with less hurting.” Less hurting. An idea I could get behind.
“Let’s be open to new things, and not be too judgemental.” She just stood there for a bit, and when she finally sat, so did everybody else. People were smiling, even me.
“Tide’s End. I don’t know if you know why this place is named that, so I’ll try to explain.
“Mission – the train bridge, actually – is the place where the folks who regulate fishing have decided the tides end. The water is brackish until here, up the river delta, but First Nations People have been fishing here since time…forever. At least 10,000 years. We fished the salmon, and the sturgeon, and other fish. And we know about tides, and how they pound and beat on a place. Without ending.
“So, we called this place Tide’s End because we hope to help with the relentless pounding.” She adjusted her skirt and looked at us again.
“We’ll talk about Taylor’s participating later, but for now, know that sometimes we are going to push you. Ask you to work hard. But you can always say no, if you need to. We just don’t want you to be disruptive…stopping someone else from getting what they need in the circle.” She smiled and handed the talking stick to Kate.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Meredith Egan is an author of critically acclaimed novels, Just Living: a novel and Tide’s End: A Just Living novel. The stories are shaped from her work with crime victims and violent prisoners over more than thirty years. Meredith is trained in mediation and peacemaking circles., and has been honoured to learn from many First Nations peoples. Meredith coaches writers and other creative folks and offers workshops and training through her Daring Imagination work.
Meredith is the principal at Wild Goat Executive Coaching where her clients include leaders in the automotive, technology, government and small business fields. She lives at the Groundswell Ecovillage in beautiful Yarrow, BC. with her dog Mollie, and rambunctious feline sisters Firefly and Filigree. For fun she dabbles in cooking soup for her neighbours, and soaking in her hot tub with her four adult children when they visit.
You can find Meredith through her website, and on Facebook and Twitter for information about her novels, and her coaching work. Meredith welcomes opportunities to speak with groups about justice, and writing. Her books are available through Amazon and local bookstores.
Hi Meredith, and thank you for being here today!
Thank you so much for hosting me on your site! I enjoyed these thought-provoking questions…
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I’ve been privileged to work in prisons and with crime victims for about 30 years, and during that time I’ve heard an astonishing number of stories of heartache and pain that humans bring to one another. I’ve often been told about sexual abuse that people experienced as children at the hands of the people who were supposed to be caring for the children – parents, foster parents and guardians.
It’s heartbreaking and common and I think we aren’t used to hearing these stories because people feel such shame that they were hurt by the people who were supposed to be loving and caring for them – and as such, they are somehow less loveable.
I knew that somehow these stories deserved the light of day, so dreaming up a young man who wants to rescue his little sister from the pain he’s experienced was born.
A fun fact about writing your book.
I belong to a creative writing critique group in a medium security prison here in British Columbia, Canada. We get together every two weeks (until quarantine) and read our work to one another and talk about our writing content and practice.
These folks are so generous with their time and ideas for improving my work! Any authenticity in describing the prison and life of prisoners and victims is directly a result of these men.
After I’ve worked the novel with them (and another writers’ group that meets outside the prison), I ask readers to give me feedback. I’ve been so privileged that many crime victims and front-line workers have read my novels and given me feedback and ideas for improvement.
I feel so grateful to these folks!
Did you always have the reins of the story or the people in it tried to take over?
I love meeting my characters and learning about them…but often I don’t know them enough at the beginning to control them! They say and do the most surprising (and often awkward) things. For example, characters from prior books show up when I don’t invite them! Sometimes I get partway through a manuscript and discover that the speech patterns of a character or some fundamental characteristic is different than I thought at first – and then I have to go back and rewrite their scenes.
The good news is every time they get loud and awkward, I like the “new” character far better than the one I first conjured up.
Through my work with other writers I’ve developed a set of Daring Imagination cards that writers (or anyone else who works with story) can use to help them delve more deeply into their story. Sometimes I pull them out and use the questions myself. Like this one:
What would your characters wear for dinner with their grandmother?
I got a little weepy realizing some of my key characters didn’t know their grandmother….
What are you working on now?
I am currently about 1/3 of the way through writing the third novel in the series currently titled Ricky’s Place. It’s about a family struggling with disconnection and the pain that comes from growing up in a dysfunctional home.
The adult children – two brothers – Preston, a successful business owner and Butch, his incarcerated brother, along with their younger sister Becky, reunite after 20 years in part because Butch is dying in prison.
Together, they have to figure out how to get along with each other, deal with their mortality, and what it means to be an unlikely hero.
You know, sex, death, and money.
All the important bits of life.
Do you have a day job?
I do have part-time paid employment aside from my writing.
Currently I work as an Executive Coach in the automotive and IT fields, and the balance between that work (which gets me out of the house and asking the most interesting people the most intrusive questions!) and my writing means that I have enough to fill my creative cup so that when I go to write I have ideas and stories and life experiences that I can use to colour the novel I’m working on.
Of course, it also helps that my clients create enough income for me to live comfortably so that I can write, meet my readers and go out in the world with my books.
I am energized and inspired by the opportunities to meet my readers and talk about what they think of the stories I tell and the themes of my books. I’ve found people to be overwhelmingly generous and kind, willing to help others, volunteer, and support their neighbours and friends.
If I could craft another ‘job’, it would be listening to people who haven’t thought about issues of justice, privilege and colonization, and helping them understand how our whole world will be better for everyone the closer we get to equality…and healing.
Has your environment /upbringing colored your writing?
Absolutely, my environment and upbringing have coloured my writing; we are all products of our history, our privilege (or oppression) and our environment.
Having been raised in Quebec as an anglophone who (blessedly) immersed herself in French culture as much as possible taught me a little about minorities, and privilege and the richness of the influence of other cultures.
Leaving Quebec for western Canada and raising my family here has also influenced me. I now realize how arrogant I was growing up, presuming being Eastern had some wisdom the western regions missed.
All of it has taught me that when I’m humble and open to learning I gain so much wealth! I have learned so many important teachings from being in the west, from learning from First Nations peoples, from being in relationship with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
People are amazing! They are resilient, and smart, and kind to one another. They nurture, and care for one another in profound and beautiful ways. And the oppression some have experienced, and the fear that surrounds their lives greatly impact my sense of what is right and good.
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
I coordinate and participate in a number of critique groups. One is with young authors (think under 12!), another is in my community and a third is in a medium security prison. Working with other authors, encouraging imagination and learning together are so important and helpful with plotting, nuance and (most importantly to me) inspiration.
Every October there’s a large writers’ conference held in Surrey, BC. Many popular and accomplished authors join us for a weekend of sharing, and learning. One of the people who attends every year is Diana Gabaldon, of Outlander fame.
For the past 4 or 5 years I’ve had the privilege of taking her into the prison critique group where she speaks with the prisoners who write. She is enchanting and encouraging and personable. It’s one of my favourite weeks of the year.
Diana tells stories about writing that are so inclusive and encouraging. She talks about her process, and gives everyone permission to begin wherever they are, and keep going. She has three rules she always leaves them with.
What does your writing space look like?
I live alone in a fairly small condo (perfectly sized, actually) and rather than having a “living room” I have an office set up in the middle of my home.
It’s a table in front of a window that looks out onto my pond, which is in my small back yard. Beyond that is a mountain, and between the pond and the mountain is an organic farm where my neighbours grow vegetables, and the chickens entertain me on my walks with my little dog Mollie.
Inside my room is a little bit of artwork, a few “necessaries” like my post-it notes and lovely pens. A table, a stuffed dragon, the wooden box my great-grandfather made for my mother to hold her recipes. I keep index cards with my notes for my next book in it.
It’s a lovely, warm space that envelopes me (and sometimes distracts me from my work, also…)
Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
Usually my books begin with an awareness of a character…some information, a voice, what they look like. Then, I learn a little about what’s going on in their life – an issue or concern, a point of conflict or struggle.
Beyond that, I write by the seat of my pants…which means that as I ‘get into’ a book, I often learn more about my characters and their world which allows me to expand and intensify the story, the relationships between characters and their world…which gives me the opportunity to go back and revise the earlier work and make it more rich and interesting.
Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?
I think many people aren’t aware of how difficult it is to learn the craft of writing. Many people think “I could write a book” or “I’m going to write a book” and I believe everyone should. Everyone’s voice is important, and writing can help you in so many ways get to know yourself and your world more intimately.
Often the first book is the most difficult to see through to the end – and then once you’ve done it you can hardly believe it! And then you can do it a second time if you wish.
However, the most difficult part is helping to get your book into your perfect reader’s hands. Finding your perfect readers, where they work and live and how to entice them to ‘give your book a chance’ is so important! For the few who still publish traditionally there are competitions, and awards and opportunities to get your story ideas into the public news/media. But for those of us who independently publish it’s a little more difficult.
Which is why I LOVE to engage with my readers! If you have a book club or faith community that wants to have a circle about stories or justice or how to build community (at this time of civil unrest) I am happy to help!
How long does it take to write a story?
Some people are prolific and successful at completing many books over a few years.
That is not me! It takes about a year and a half to write a book, and then a second year to revise/review and get it ready for publishing.
THEN it takes me about another 6 months to get it out there…so for me, about 2-3 years.
But my first book took me about twelve years to write…so I am getting faster!
First thought when the alarm goes off in the in the morning?
Generally speaking, most days I wake up gently. I decided a few years back that sleep was important, so I try to arrange my commitments so my mornings are gentle beginnings, and I can gear up to productivity!
Of course, for the days that I’m a working coach in a business setting – my day job – I set an alarm. And generally speaking, my first thought is “Let’s do this!” because I’m very grateful to have meaningful work.
I’m very fortunate.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit more about me and my writing!
- $20 Amazon/BN GC