Lillian and Audrey, both coping with midstage Alzheimer’s Disease, are reluctant residents in a Nursing Home where the food consists of tasteless mush. They are entertained with silly games and repetitive singsongs. The dining room is littered with gray-haired women, balding men, wheelchairs, walkers and “pastel uniforms with white sneakers perched on stools, spooning food into random open mouths like mother birds feeding their young”. There is danger of personal conversations on anything from whiskers to arm flab being dropped in on. And from this early description, Janet Hepburn sets the stage in her just released novel “Flee, Fly, Flown” for her two octogenarian protagonists to plan their off-kilter and oft-humourous escape from their secure confines. Along the way, they inculcate Rayne into their “plan” that is in desperate need of his youthful assistance.
The Book Launch for Janet’s first novel, published by Second Story Press, will be held at David’s Martini Bar, 168 New Lakeshore Road from 2 – 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 30th. Everyone is invited to attend.
Locally, Janet will also be reading and signing “Flee, Fly Flown” at the Author’s Book Fair Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre.
Born in Port Dover, Janet dedicated this book to her mother, Anna Mary Greenslade, 1921 – 2011, “a paragon of extraordinary strength and courage through a decade spent living with Alzheimer’s”.
While this book is not Janet’s mother’s story, “she was certainly an inspiration”, she told the Maple Leaf. “My Mom was a strong woman. I see her in the book.”
The theme for the book is giving back to women their voice and independence. Janet noted her lead characters are not at the end stages of their disease. “They have less cognitive days and quite lucid ones.”
Janet’s story is narrated through the eyes of Lillian, who is not the most reliable witness, she said. The book is a gentle introduction to Alzheimer’s, noting that the disease can cause delusions, mood changes, loss of motor functions, inability to retrieve words and more.
Janet, who worked for the Norfolk and Grand Erie Boards of Education and is known for her poetry writing, started her first draft for “Flee, Fly, Flown” in 2009. She attended the Humber School for Writers that summer and was encouraged by her mentor Erika de Vasconcelos to proceed in her novel development.
In previous years, she had taken Creative Writing courses at McMaster, Humber, a writing camp in the Muskokas, a Chile Writing Retreat and more. She was also the recipient of an Ontario Arts Council Writers Reserve Grant. Many edits and rewrites later, Janet submitted the book to nine publishers in the summer of 2011. She was advised May, 2012 that Second Story Press had selected it for publication.
Already, Janet’s book is available through Indigo and Amazon and can be downloaded on both KOBO and Kindle. It has been very favourably reviewed by Quill and Quire, Canada’s premier magazine of book news and reviews. She has a list of book signings and readings on her calendar as well.
Janet’s book will be available at the Tan Mar Shoppe in Port Dover after the March 30th launch and she is looking forward to attending area book club meetings.
Janet is married to Gary and the mother of two grown children. She is also blogging to her website www.janethepburn.com
-Donna McMillan, The Maple Leaf