When her first novel ‘The Good Son” was released, Breslau author Carolyn Huizinga Mills was unable to have a traditional book launch due to the pandemic-led restrictions in place at the time.
“I was just sitting in my office at my computer screen and it was really lonely and anticlimactic. You’re supposed to have this big celebration to launch your book into the world,” she said of the March 2021 release.
When her second novel ‘Sins of the Daughter’ was published on August 27, she was able to enjoy a proper launch, however.
“It was beautiful because it was mostly outside, and then we did the signing in the bookstore…and it was the party that I’d always kind of envisioned. The next day, I had a signing at the Conestoga Mall Indigo, then on Saturday I had a signing at the Kitchener Indigo. So that was just like a whirlwind,” said Huizinga Mills, who teaches Grade 7 language, history, geography, and drama at Laurentian Senior Public School.
‘Sins of the Daughter’ tells the story of Danah Calsely, a sociology PhD candidate who was abandoned by her mother as a 9-year-old. Danah seems unaffected by the abandonment until she finds a letter that she’s convinced is from her missing mother. Danah then attempts to unravel the truth. Switching between the past and present, the book is told from the perspective of Danah, her mother Jane Lily, and her grandmother Edith.
“So you see the mother who abandoned her daughter as a child also in the role of a daughter, and how that influenced the type of mother she was,” Huizinga Mills explained.
While the book would appeal more to women, Huizinga Mills said she didn’t write it just for that audience. She hopes the male readers would also be able to relate to the story.
“Any person who likes to read, I would hope would enjoy the story just for the sake of story,” she said.
Although both of her novels focus on family dynamics and how the relationships of the characters are shaped by the events of their lives, she does not have a specific message she is trying to get across.
“I just try to tell what I hope is a compelling story, and maybe one that makes people think and, ideally, have discussions. I picture book clubs reading it and discussing it at the end and having different opinions.” Huizinga Mills explained.
The majority of the book is set in southwestern Ontario, including McMaster University and the University of Guelph. The fictional town of Missionville is about the same size as Elmira.
“As a reader, I always enjoy reading Canadian settings, and particularly settings close to where I live. So I wanted to make sure that where I lived was represented in the stories and that if local readers read it, they would see places and names that they recognize,” she said.
“A lot of times Canadian stories are set in bigger Canadian cities like Toronto or Vancouver, and you don’t hear about Guelph or maybe you’d hear about Hamilton. Missionville is … I mean, it could be Elmira. It’s a very small farming community,” she added.
Huizinga Mills hopes that her accomplishments will inspire her students to chase their dreams.
“Especially since there are always a handful of students who want to be writers. I hope that they see that if it seems like it did to me, an unreachable goal, that here’s someone right in front of you who has done it. I hope that it inspires them to pursue their dreams, chase their love of writing, and to just have faith in their ability,” she said.
Huizinga Mills is currently working on a third novel and getting set to release her second children’s book, ‘Grandpa’s Stars.’