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Write On Ottawa: Local writer launches Kickstarter campaign to achieve her literary dream

By Alejandro Bustos on September 9, 2013


Sometimes it is necessary to be patient when chasing after your dream.  Other times you have to throw caution to the wind and just grab hold of your destiny.  This is a lesson that local writer Catherine Brunelle learned through difficult experience.

When she was just 27 years old, Brunelle was diagnosed with breast cancer.  After undergoing extensive treatment, she received the horrific news that the cancer was back, but this time in her lungs.

Dreaming of being a published author, she was not sure if she had the time to see her first novel released.  This left her with a stark choice: Do everything possible to get published now, or go through the normal process of submitting a first novel to different publishers, and then waiting for a response that she may never see.

Faced with this sobering reality, she launched a Kickstarter campaign that begins today to raise $3,000 to self-publish her touching book The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending.  The raised money will be used to layout, print and distribute this excellent novel.

“I am not used to asking for things.  Even with my treatment I am not used to it,”  says Brunelle in an interview.  Despite this uneasy feeling, she chose to pursue her dream through crowd sourcing.

“I could be alive for another 20-years,” she tells me.  “In the meantime, I am going to continue living my life.”

Catherine Brunelle hugging her manuscript

Catherine Brunelle hugging her manuscript

The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending is a wonderful story about a line of women over nine generations who share the middle name Claire.

The story begins in 2011 and then travels back in time, with each new chapter introducing the mother of the heroine in the previous one, albeit many years in the past.  Thus, chapter one is set in 2011, chapter two in 1980, chapter three in 1958, and so on through the decades until the final chapter which takes place in 1826.

The story contains such great characters as Amelia Earl, the first solo woman to travel the world in an air balloon; Elizabeth the psychic; Aliza who blackmails her way into the circus; and Amelia Stives, who sets sail for Canada in 1826 after burning down her family barn.

The name Claire, meanwhile, has a special meaning.

“The significance of (the name Claire) is that some of them give up their (family) name after they get married,” says Brunelle, who also blogs at her site Bumpyboobs.  “These women keep their middle name, which is a continuous link.”

The idea for the novel came from a moving gift that Brunelle’s father gave to her when she was about thirteen.  The gift consisted of a pile of postcards from her dad’s grandmother and her friends.

“It’s the only thing that I have of my great-grandmother, so I imagined what her life must have been like,” says Brunelle.  This led her to develop the story of a female family line that spans more than 180 years and who share a common middle name.

Catherine Brunelle with her postcard collection

Catherine Brunelle with her postcard collection

Thanks to the Write On Ottawa series, I have had the pleasure of reading the work of numerous artists from the National Capital Region, be they novelists, poets, creators of graphic novels, bloggers or short story writers.  After interviewing Brunelle for this article, she was kind enough to share a draft manuscript of her book.

After looking at her draft, I can say that this novel is among the best works I have read by a local writer. The story is moving, the characters are captivating and the writing is very good.

I imagine that a few tweaks will be made to the story before the final product goes to print, but from what I have seen this is quality work.

“I will always find energy on doing things that I love,” Brunelle tells me, when I ask her how she was able to write given her battles with cancer.  “(Writing) is my joy.”