Collins’ first novel to take readers back in time
After many successful attempts at getting her written word published, Hare Bay’s Sylvia Collins can now call herself a novelist — and a self-published one at that.
© Matt Molloy/The Beacon
PUBLISHED — Hare Bay self-published author Sylvia Collins sits at her kitchen table with her inaugural novel, Cast Thy Bread Upon The Waters, which takes place in the fictional community of Fancey Cove, NL.
Ms. Collins, who’s in her 60s, began writing her first novel, Cast Thy Bread Upon The Waters, while working at the Gambo Public Library.
After retiring in 2010, Ms. Collins found more time to devote to her project, and after countless hours, and many, many re-reads, the finished product is at her Hare Bay home.
A family story set in the fictitious community of Fancey Cove, Bonavista Bay, NL, Ms. Collins calls her novel, “A story with a distinct Newfoundland flavour, so it will immediately capture your attention.”
Her novel is fiction based on historical fact.
“The main character is a young woman named Sybil Johnson, who you meet as a young university student from Fancey Cove in a St. John’s hospital giving birth to a baby girl, who she’s discreetly putting up for adoption,” said Ms. Collins. “Sybil had been brought up in a devout Christian family, and right away this will cause questions in the minds of the readers like, why is this girl having a baby and giving her away?”
The story takes place in the 1900s, and the book depicts the hardships that were a reality of life in Newfoundland during that era.
Like everyone in Fancey Cove, Sybil was a God-fearing person, and religion is just one of many topics that Ms. Collins covers in her book.
“It speaks of the political struggle that finally led to Confederation with Canada; it tells of hard-working, resourceful, God-fearing people and the denominational prejudice that existed among them,” said Ms. Collins. “Believe me, times have changed, and, thankfully, people are not as bad as they were.
“This will make it interesting for the older generation because they’ll be able to relate to some of the things that happen to the characters in the story, and if you like history as a younger person, you’ll love this book because it will tell you about things that happened in your parents’ and grandparents’ era.”
By sharing the story, Ms. Collins said she’s reaching back and grabbing history that should be preserved. It’s important to preserve that past, she said, because people need to know what their ancestors went through and how they really paved the way for them.
More published work
Although her novel is available to be purchased, it isn’t the first time Ms. Collins has been published.
In Churches of Newfoundland and Labrador, Vol. 2, a descriptive record of Hare Bay Pentecostal Church, written by Ms. Collins, appears on page 180.
She also wrote a library’s success story titled, Receiving The World, which she wrote while working at the Gambo Public Library. She highlighted the role her workplace played in helping some of the passengers that landed in Gander during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001. Her story was published in the online version of Canadian Living Magazine, March 2002. Her story was one of 10 that were selected from submissions across Canada.
“There’s a lot of work involved with it, but it’s very rewarding when you hold the book in your hands and you say, I accomplished this.” Sylvia Collins
She’s had more work published, but never before has she tackled the world of self-publishing, so she needed a little help to produce Cast Thy Bread Upon The Waters.
“Self published means you do all the work,” said Ms. Collins with a laugh. “I did have a couple of friends read the manuscript and I asked them for suggestions and advice on how to make the story a little better, and while they’re going through it, to correct any errors they find, which they graciously did. One of them, Pat Parsons, wrote a testimony that appeared on the back of my book; and the girl who wrote the forward, Jennifer Payne, is a teacher here and she also did my artwork.
“There’s a lot of work involved with it, but it’s very rewarding when you hold the book in your hands and you say, I accomplished this. My oldest daughter, Sandra Clarke, was a big source for inspiration to me. She lives in Ontario, and as I finished each chapter I would call her and say, ‘Do you have time to listen to a chapter?’ She would say, ‘Yes Mom,’ and I would read it. She would always say, ‘Mom, that’s wonderful! I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait for the next chapter.’ That was encouraging, because I thought, if she finds it interesting, other people will, too.”
Her son-in-law, Lorne Goudie of Grand Falls-Windsor, is also a self-published author, so Ms. Collins often turned to him for guidance on writing, publishing, and marketing. Marion Quinton Brake, a Gander author who also self published a few books, also gave Ms. Collins some help during her first-ever attempt at self publishing a novel.
And for those who have already read the book, don’t worry, a sequel is already in the works.
“I already started a sequel. I love writing, I love reading, and I really enjoy public speaking. I’m believing that after people read this book, they’ll become so involved with the characters they’ll wonder what happens to them,” said Ms. Collins. “What happens to the baby that was given away? Did she get a good home? Did she ever find out who here parents were? Do Sybil and her boyfriend get married? Since her pregnancy was such a big secret, did her parents ever find out?”