A Year of Singular Experiences

A Year of Singular Experiences

Posted on December 19 by admin
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Today’s guest blog post comes from Sheelagh Whittaker, author of The Slaidburn Angel.

Having just learned that the great old pictures I had collected for my soon-to-be published book, The Slaidburn Angel, didn’t contain enough pixels for today’s printing processes, I was on the phone from Vancouver Island desperately asking a photographer in England whom I had never even spoken to before if she would drive around Lancashire taking new photos of sites connected to a 1895 child murder case.  Amazingly, she agreed to do it and devoted hours of extra effort to produce pictures which truly enhanced my story.

Finding Sue Burton, photographer, was just one of the unbelievable things that has happened since Dundurn scheduled The Slaidburn Angel for publication.

There was the Canadian book launch overlooking Departure Bay with a great big cake and there was the Friday evening at the start of a long weekend at Chapters in Halifax where the people who came up and asked me to sign my book each had a special story of their own to tell to me.

A whole front window filled with nothing but copies of The Slaidburn Angel at the Daunts Holland Park Book Shop in London, England, answered a question I had not dared to ask even myself – What will success look like?  And the sun-kissed Caribbean crowd who gathered to hear and meet me in Books&Books at Camana Bay asked questions about style and approach that I was just thrilled to answer.

The pleasure of finding that the cover of The Slaidburn Angel had won a little popularity contest on the Dundurn web site was soon mixed with the sadness of seeing Dundurn’s newly released biography of a dear old friend, David Pecaut.  The title of that book, Eleven out of Ten, was perfectly chosen to reflect the kind of man that David was.  I had the good fortune to work with him for several years when he first came to Canada and his remarkable ability and sincerity were apparent in everything he undertook.

I was surprised to learn subsequently that Eleven out of Ten contains a photograph of a reunion, held in the late nineties, of The Canada Consulting Group where David and I had worked together. Despite dismay at my own larger-than-life appearance in it, I still have my copy of that picture because it is such a special record of all the people who made working at Canada Consulting so unique.

My friends at Dundurn tell me that being in a photo in two different Dundurn books in a single year is a first not only for me, but for Dundurn, too. And, as a newly minted author, I am always more than happy to accept a distinction anywhere that I can find it.

M. Sheelagh Whittaker has been featured in the prestigious Women of Influence lecture series and is a member of Maclean’s Honour Roll. She was named “The Pioneer” in the Globe & Mail’s “Women in Power” series. A quintessential Canadian who was born in Ottawa, she was raised on the Prairies and has worked in most parts of the country.