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She’s got more than a few stories to tell

After almost two years of working and writing tirelessly, Breslau’s Carolyn Huizinga Mills can finally bask in the achievement of having her first novel published.

‘The Good Son’ is set to release March 20, and while this is not her first foray into the world of being a published author – her 2017 children’s book ‘The Little Boy Who Lived Down the Drain’ being her start – she is already looking ahead with another novel on the way, and one more in the works.

With the novel, it was a case of the second thing first: Huizinga Mills had submitted publishers a manuscript she’d been working on for some 13 years, and while waiting to hear back she started in on another book. When she finally got in front of a publisher, she would end up not only getting a two-book deal, but The Good Son would also end up becoming the novel to be published first.

“I had written a different novel that was the one I was really focused on, and I worked with a mentor on it and then I submitted it to Cormorant Books. When they offered to take it, in the course of our conversation, I mentioned I’ve been working on another novel which was the second one – which will now be the first one coming out.… So, both books are being published but they wanted to publish this one first because they thought it was the stronger of the two or the one that was more compelling,” said Huizinga Mills, who teaches Grade 7 when she’s not behind the keyboard.

“It was kind of an interesting twist how it came about. And really what inspired me to write this one is there’s kind of a rule in writing: Once you’ve submitted a piece of work while you’re waiting to hear back, you’re supposed to jump into another project so that you don’t drive yourself crazy waiting to hear back, so I was jumping into another project, which turned into The Good Son.”

Huizinga Mills classifies the book as a family drama – it has elements of a mystery and thriller but does not truly fall into either category –that “centers on relationships and childhood experiences, and how those shape the people we become or the decisions that we make, and especially how our perceptions of those experiences shape us.”

When she originally started the book, it focused on two brothers – the final version would end up with a brother and sister – and the exploration of how something affecting that relationship could also alter your entire future.

“I was trying to imagine if as a child, something happened that affected the way you looked at a sibling who maybe you admired. I had two brothers and I wanted the younger one to really admire his older brother. But if something happened that affected that, how it could trickle throughout your whole life to change your relationship with [not only] that person, but everything you did; your relationship with other people the types of jobs you chose where you ended up living,” she added.

One of the things she tried to incorporate into all of her novels was setting them in small-town Ontario. By doing this she hoped that people who come from places such as these would be able to pick up the book and see elements from their hometowns within the storylines.

“All of my stories are set in small-town Ontario. So, if you take any small town here, like Elmira or Baden or New Hamburg, you could almost plop them into my stories. And so, I think I pull a lot of the character of those small towns into my settings.I think they might recognize like parts of their small town, that it’s not their small town, but it’s every small town that has those similar aspects.”

While the book is set for release March. 20, people who ordered from places like Chapters have bee able to get their hands on the book already.

She says she is both excited and terrified for the book to land in the hands of readers, but so far, she has heard good things from friends who have picked up their copy.

Huizinga Mills has a virtual book launch party to celebrate the release of The Good Son on March 23. The free event will allow people to sit in and hear about the book while Huizinga Mills chats with Kayleigh Platz about the novel two years in the making.

Those who want a signed copy can also order one online for themselves – or get a gift for a friend with a personalized video message from the author.

To get a copy of the book email queries@bookshelf.ca and click here to sign up for the event.

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