It’s 1843 and sister Cara and brother Will have nobody to rely on but each other.
Heart of the Hudson is a book geared for children ages nine to 14 who are interested in getting a glimpse at Canadian history in this fiction-based-on-fact 186-page turner by Tracey Brown.
She’s a Prince George writer who has turned her talents to novels for the last decade or so.
“But I’ve always been a writer,” Brown said. “But never with the idea of publishing anything.”
Then she discovered an online course about the craft of novel writing that showed her the nuts and bolts of it about 10 years ago. That seemed to do the trick and away she went writing contemporary novels for youth and adults.
Heart of the Hudson is Brown’s first foray into historical fiction that sees a family get ousted from their home during the Highland Clearances, which took place between 1750 and 1860, when a forced mass eviction of tenants from Scotland’s Highlands and western islands took place and the reason? Mainly to turn the land to sheep pasture.
Within the book’s pages it is during the Highland Clearances when Will and Cara’s mother disappears and the siblings decide to find Dad in the New World. Last they heard he was at the York Factory, which was a settlement and Hudson’s Bay Company trading post located in Manitoba.
To get over to Canada from Scotland Will lies about his age to get aboard a Hudson’s Bay Company ship as part of the crew and Cara refuses to be left behind and joins in the adventure.
Filled with historically accurate details, Brown did a deep six-month dive into research for the book first. Then she let it all settle into her brain for a bit and began writing with those features of Canadian history in her mind’s eye as she fleshed out her story.
“I have huge admiration for those who write historical fiction,” Brown said. “And do it in a way that doesn’t just recount events but puts it into an actual story.”
Her interest in the Highland Clearances and the York Factory began as she planned a trip to Churchill, Manitoba and discovered the rich history of the area.
“And I was absolutely fascinated,” Brown said.
After she took the novel-writing course Brown knew she would write a book for younger people about siblings and their family.
Her first draft took her between six months and a year to complete, then Brown said she put it aside to process, revised it, sent it to critique partners and then in 2019 entered it in a national writing contest where it was long listed. After that Brown sent it to more critique partners and took the steps to publish it recently.
She’s always juggling multiple projects so if she gets stuck on one, she can move on to the next, she added.
“I just absolutely love the process,” Brown said. “It just brings me so much joy.”
Get your book signed during an event Saturday, Jan. 28 from noon to 3 p.m. at Books & Co., 1685 Third Ave.
The book is also at Coles in Pine Centre and online wherever books are sold.