Burlington just may have had its first look at a new, major Canadian novelist.

October 2, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  It was going to be Janet Turpin Myers day.  Her first published book was going to be launched in the community hall in her community at Cedar Springs.  A woman who is usually in jeans and running around barefoot was dressed in a sleek, very trim fitting sort of wine coloured dress that she could hardly move in was there to talk to her friends about her book and autograph copies.

The line on the other side of the room was for the bar – it was shorter. This was a book event.

There were two lines, one on either side of the room.  One at the bar, the other at the signing table – the signing table was longer.

Myers had worked for years to get to this day.  She knew from very early in life that she was meant to write, to craft words and put feelings on paper that other would absorb and mix into the way they saw the world.

Friends galore showed up, both daughters were on hand; one delightfully pregnant and the other in a foot cast with husband Mike ensuring that things went smoothly – they did.

Myers made up treats that came right out of the book “Nightswimming”.  If you’ve not read the book the significance of the treats or the ‘flat fifty’ Black Cat cigarette tin Myers had on display would have meant nothing to you.

What was interesting was the number of people who had three, five – one person had eight copies of the book in their arms as they waited to have them autographed.  While it was a significant day for Janet Turpin Myers it was one her publisher was delighted with.  Selling books after the editing, design, production and marketing of the title is what book publishing is all about – and in Canada that is a major challenge.

There are very few presses that take the risk on an unknown writer.  Maureen Whyte, president of Seraphim Editions was kept away from the launch due to health issues.

At every book launch the author is expected to tell how hard they worked and thank everyone who was with them on the journey.  Myers did the usual – 18 months to write the book – six more to edit it.  How she lucked into finding a publisher.

Myers however went a little deeper than most and explained how the story came to her.  She did summer in the Muskoka’s as a young girl but Nightswimming is not a story about Janet Turpin.  The story came to her in bits and pieces.  The first picture man saw of the earth taken from space amazed the young girl.  The Apollo mission fascinated her and the Vietnam War mess kept intruding into her thoughts. Myers told her audience that she finds she wants to “nourish imaginations with the truth” which is getting down pretty deep.

Born in Montreal, moved to Ontario, graduated from Nelson High, went to McMaster to study political science and social work, earning Bachelor level degrees in both – a typical Burlington story.

Guests with three, four, five and at least one with eight books ready to be signed. A very successful book launch

Worked as a social worker in a field she knew absolutely nothing about but read up the day before the interview and aced it – got the job. “Bullshit will baffle brains every time” explains Myers.  And there we have an insight into the woman.  She is forward, aggressive in an acceptable way, holder of opinions that she will share with you at the drop of a hat and adventuresome.  She lives in Cedar Springs which suits her.  The outdoors is all around her; she doesn’t have to deal with the social constrictions in a neighbourhood – but is instead a part of a community of people with shared values.  The setting is rural but not farm country.

Myers revels in the place where her home is spacious, dark and filled with artifacts she has picked up.  An old wall phone that you cranked to get the line which was shared by many people.  The house phone is a rotary dial. Local transportation is by golf cart – which Myers drives like a Mad Hatter.

Yoga is a large part of the daily regime for Myers and following the equinox and the movement of the earth and its relationship to other planets are all part of the way Myers orders her life.  There were 108 sun salutations that time had to be made for. Yoga, four or five times a week is also part of the routine and it comes as no surprise when Myers tells you that she has meditated since she was 16.

Janet Turpin Myers works in a bright, sunlit room filled with the smell of cedar trees when the windows are open.

Typing was a bird course for her at Nelson High – it taught her that she was never going to be a secretary despite a disappointing conversation with a guidance teacher.  Latin opened up the world of words to her and she couldn’t wait to get to McMaster where she saw the possibility of reading every book she would ever want to read.

For Janet Turpin Myers “it all just falls into place”.  She listens, she hears and she writes.

There are two books that could be ready for publication; one that will never see the light of day.

There is poetry that has been published.  Some piece are light – funny, fun.

G@Twitter

Hustlers, hecklers, wisdom-crackers,

hero-worshiping sycophanters,

lonely poets, pondering fellas,

chatter boxes and joke re-tellers.

Lady-celebs with silicone augments

slinging sex and nonsense comments.

Hyperactive urbanistas

with tips on lattes

from bored baristas.

Holy-quoters, pissed-off voters,

lefties, greenies and Kickstart totallers,

politicians with hidden missions,

and office girls Instagraming kittens.

Advisors, enthusers, philo-so-phisers,

dictator smashers and hashtag dashers.

Celebrities who follow none

and non-entities the hipsters shun.

¬Quips about the daily sorrows

from twitter geeks that no one follows.

Freedom fighters and witty writers

of pithy quotes for Lit-insiders.

It’s more or less that less is more

Twitter is crack from the dollar store.

Janet Turpin Myers, April 2013

Others are more profound.

Find Me

come and find me in the hallway

beyond the breathless corner

where darkness pulses ripples

of permission and desire

come and find me in the hallway

do not dive into my eyes

but lock your bigger hand onto my wrist

making this no frantic random clutching

but a sure thing

decided

single-minded

come and find me in the hallway

then take me

as I have been yours

forever

for the taking

Janet Turpin Myers, November, 2012

 All her work is given time, the kind of time her grandparents used when they polished silver; you rubbed and you rubbed a bit more and then you have it done.  Myers does this with words.  The first collection was made public last Sunday.

The more than 500 acres that make up the Cedar Springs community are the range that Myers roams – where she can howl at the moon and run around barefoot.

Launch day was full but the day was not over when the chairs had been put away and the last of the guests thanked.  Sitting at home, yards away from the community centre, the phone rings. Janet’s eldest daughter, delightfully pregnant during the launch gave birth to a boy – “my daughter had her baby last night! This is my first grandchild. A baby boy. He came 3 weeks early, but he’s strong and healthy…just needs to fatten up a bit. My daughter was in labour for 1hr 45mins, start to finish. We got her to the hospital at 11:03pm and the baby was born at 11:27!”

It was a very full day indeed.

Burlington may have witnessed the introduction of a major new writer.

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