Finding Grace

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You could say Newport Landing author Daphne Greer is finding her feet, as well as her words, now that she has four books written.

“Understanding the process is easier now, but I still feel that with every book I write, I am just starting from scratch,” she said. Greer considers Finding Grace, her fourth book to be published in October, her “trickiest book yet.”

“It’s actually one of the first stories that I wrote years ago, but it’s just taken this long to get it right, so I put it aside. I have written it a gazillion different ways, but I think I just needed to be more mature as a writer to be able to pull it off,” she told the Valley Harvester.

The story is set at the former Ursuline Convent in Tildonk, Belgium, an institution Greer herself attended for a year while her father was serving on a NATO mission. The convent, located on the outskirts of Brussels, ran a boarding school for the daughters of British (and some Common- wealth) servicemen.

“It was right out of a book. It was like prison,” Greer recalls. “The dorm had about 30 girls. There was no privacy and minim- al furnishings, no hot water. It was a wild experience living with the nuns,” she said. “I first wrote the story down when I was first a teenager, but I lost it.”

In addition to incorporating her own memories, Greer also connected with some alumni through social media and incorporated some of their memories of daily living there.

“Although, it’s a made up story woven with historical facts as the main character goes through her journey trying to find her roots,” said Greer.

Part of that fabric provides a natural binding to Greer’s audience, as the story reaches out to the age group she aims to write

for: young, especially reluctant, readers.

“Kids will do anything to put a book down, so you have to grab their attention and keep them engaged in the story. So, whatever is not necessary, you have to edit out,” said Greer in recalling advice from an editor early on in her career.

Taking that advice also helps explain why Greer’s books are gaining popularity with her audience and why her third book, Camped Out, is on this year’s list for the 2018-19 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award, a literary program for young read- ers in Atlantic Canada.

Each year, thousands of children aged nine to 12 (Grades 4 to 6) read from the selection of 10 nominated Canadian books and vote for the winners. Any school can participate, too, said Greer.

“It just instills this fabulous connection of reading and some of the kids read all 10 books. It’s quite a commitment.”

Students can then apply to be a ‘book-bearer,’ those who get the opportunity to introduce authors and talk about their favourite book at the finale of the program at an award ceremony.

“It’s usually such a meaningful person who has such a connection to your story … that’s the part I really love, when you turn someone into a reader that wasn’t a reader,” said Greer. “With Camped Out, I had a mom tell me her son only read cookbooks and the occasional graphic novel, but took [that book] with him when he was going to camp and couldn’t put it down.”

Greer also is a participant in the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia program called Writers in the Schools, aiming to inspire more children to pick up a book.

“When a child can actually

see the person that’s written a story, then they automatically make this connection to the story,” said Greer. “I hope every- one realizes how valuable the program is.”

“You just think in this day and age where everything is so immediate, you’ve got computers and cellphones and here are this group of kids that are actually reading books. It makes you feel pretty good.”

Finding Grace will be unveiled at St. John the Baptist Anglican Church on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 2 p.m. in Poplar Grove, Newport.

write up or photos to

Newport author Daphne Greer with her fourth book, Finding

Grace, due out this October.

Nicola Davidson (photo credit)

Copyright (c)2018 The Halifax Herald Limited 09/06/2018 September 23, 2018 12:23 pm (GMT +3:00)

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