Local author Eleanor Bertin has truly found a most meaningful way of expressing both her heart and her talent via writing.
Bertin, who lives in the Big Valley area, joins other authors J.L. Cole and Crystal Stewart for a book signing at Sweet Home on Main on Oct. 3rd from 2 to 4 p.m.
Her latest title, Tethered, was just released this past summer. Other titles include Unbound, Lifelines and the memoir Pall of Silence which chronicles the devastating loss of her son Paul in 2012.
“I have always been a reader, but I think that when I was about eight, my older sister, who has been very influential in my life, marvelled at a rhyme that I had used in a story that I was writing for school,” she recalled during a recent chat.
“I think that was the first time that somebody recognized something about my writing.”
That passion to write would flourish further during her growing up years as well. “It shaped my direction for sure.”
Bertin would eventually marry and become a mom to seven kids. She also home-schooled during her kids’ growing up years, so her hands were pretty full.
But as the children grew older, there was more time to sit down and do a bit of writing here and there for her church or for a family newsletter. The writing of a complete novel would come a bit later – her first, Lifelines, was eventually published in 2016.
“I had always wanted to write a book, and Lifelines had actually started as a short story,” she explained. “But there were other dimensions that presented themselves into it, and so I went in that direction,” she added of the writing process.
“For me, I write by theme. So I have ideas and concepts in mind that I want to convey.”
From there, she builds chapters and events in the plot that connect to those chosen themes.
“With Lifelines, the very last chapter was almost the last thing that I wrote. So I knew where I wanted to go with it. The rest of it involves the ‘getting there’ – which can sometimes bring surprises!
“I have also had to learn the discipline of writing so I try to make time at least three times a week for a good session. For me, that would be a couple of hours,” she explained. “You don’t necessarily wait until you have inspiration – you just start.
“For me, seeing what I’ve previously written primes the pump a little and gets me into that mood – and then I can go from there.”
For Pall of Silence, of course it was a completely different literary – and of course very personal – venture.
“There was a time, shortly after the funeral, that I started writing,” she said. “I got about two pages written, a narrative describing what had happened, and then I stopped,” she said, adding that at the time it was just too painful to contemplate.
“I couldn’t go any further, and I didn’t for some years.”
It wouldn’t be until the summer of 2016 where she started up with the book once again.
“I thought, this is my story. I’m not going to write it as the ‘omniscient narrator’. I can only know my perspective on it.”
Pall of Silence was completed in about six months.
Ultimately, the actual writing of the book came a bit easier as she could simply write from her own experience. There was no character development, or trying to think of how a particular character would perceive a situation.
“I had been thinking about it for four years, and discussing it with people that I am close to and that kind of thing, so it was easier to write in that sense,” she said, adding that it also proved a rather cathartic experience.
Her Christian faith has also of course been foundational to her dealing with the loss of her son, as she explains on her web site.
“I couldn’t have known that learning to trust Him in the daily things of life would be practice for trusting Him in the frightening, the disappointing, the painful, and the tragic,” she wrote. “In 2012, our 18-year-old son Paul was killed by a hit-and-run driver. In confusion and grief, in agony and loss, I learned that Jesus is a shelter in the storm. I cling to the promises in scripture because He has proved ever-faithful. His truth holds fast, His love holds me and His grace never fails.
She added that some folks close to her hadn’t wanted to read the book as it just seemed too painful. “I do understand, but I always want to say there are things in the book that might really help you with your sadness.”
As to the novels, they are described as companion novels.
“They do overlap, and there is a continuation of some characters but from different perspectives,” she said.
That’s not to say they can’t be read as stand-alone books, but folks who do so may find a few spoilers in the later books if they opt to read them first, for example.
And these days, she’s already well into planning her fourth novel.
“I really need to get down to it,” she said, adding that there’s been a few other projects that have been on the go of late, too.
Bertin also mentioned that there are parts of herself that are woven into the stories here and there.
“We can’t help but put part of ourselves, our experiences, and our perceptions into our novels.”
In the meantime, her books can be purchased by directly contacting her via her web site, or on Amazon. They can also be purchased as Sweet Home on Main in Stettler.