A local author is celebrating a milestone in her writing career.
Lacombe’s Jennifer Quist is the author of Love Letters of the Angels of Death, her first published novel.
Quist said that, while publishing is an important and exciting step in her career as an author, it is not the end of the journey.
“Publishing is not the end of the road, it’s like the beginning,” said Quist. “Getting the publisher is like getting the hookup and then you have to turn around and make a career out of it.”
Things have changed a bit for Quist since being published.
She said she has worked from home as a writer while raising kids for the past 17 years. As such, Quist said that many people with jobs outside the home have viewed her career as little more than a pastime.
“When you are in that position, you are often thought of as a housewife with a cute hobby.”
Love Letters of the Angels of Death is a story inspired by true events that Quist experienced firsthand. The novel begins with the protagonist couple discovering the decomposing remains of the husband’s mother in her mobile home.
About nine years ago, Quist had a similar experience when her husband’s father had not been seen in several days and was discovered in his apartment, having died several days before.
“It’s actually quite toned down in the novel, what it was really like,” said Quist. “In fact, everything in the novel that was inspired from real life had to be toned down.”
Quist added some of the most obscure stories in the novel are the ones that are inspired by truth and are the ones that are the least believable for many readers.
Like many writers, Quist said she had long had a goal to write a novel.
However, as she got older, she discovered that she had few experiences to write about. After the experience with her father- in-law, Quist found the subject of her first novel.
While Quist said her novel is not about death per se, it does deal quite a bit with the often uncomfortable topic.
“I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable with death, but I have an affinity for it that I don’t see in a lot of other people,” said Quist. She added that she often speaks at funerals and has a running joke with a friend of hers that they will one day open a funeral home together.
Instead, Quist said the book is about overcoming the sadness of death.
Despite the intense sorrow and trauma that is associated with death, Quist said, people are still able to go on living happy lives and are able to overcome death when it happens in their lives while ignoring their own inevitable deaths.
“I didn’t write the book with a message,” said Quist. “But if it has one I think it would be that there are things that are inevitable, but that you can transcend enough to get by and have a happy life.”
Love Letters of the Angels of Death is Quist’s first published book, but she said she has been writing most of her life.
She said that as a child, some of her teachers commented on her talent as a writer but Quist decided not to study literature in her post-secondary education, opting instead for a degree in sociology.
As many authors do, Quist said she had some trouble getting the book published.
She added that, for the most part, she experienced the same difficulties everyone else looking to get a book published does.
She added that the second-person viewpoint was a turn-off for many publishers, but she was determined to stick with it and eventually found a publisher for the project.
“What sets published writers apart from unpublished writers is audacity,” said Quist. “To keep writing even though people don’t like it and to keep sending it out even though you know they are going to say no.”
Quist added she does not completely understand why people have problems reading in the second person when most of the stories we tell each other are in the second person, love songs on the radio are in second person and communication is in second person.
She added that, while writing in the second person is not recommended by many writers, the point of art is to make exceptions.
“Art is about breaking the rules.”