Wakefield, Quebec writer books novel way to put Gatineau Hills on literary map


by admin on December 23, 2010

Nadine Doolittle

Nadine Doolittle

Nadine Doolittle might make the Gatineau Hills famous with her suspense novels.

“Just like Stephen King did for Maine,” she said with a chuckle.

Doolittle recently signed a two-book contract with McArthur & Company, the second largest publisher of Canadian fiction, for her novels “Grey Lady” and “Iced Under.”

“It’s a big deal,” said the Lascelles author, who finally signed the deal after contract troubles with a different publisher forced her to look for a new agent.

Doolittle signed her first contract for “Iced Under” with Calgary-based Bayeux Arts in 2008. They distributed the book, but went through a financial restructuring, forcing Doolittle to seek a new agent and reclaim the rights to her first book.

Diane Banks, an agent based in the U.K., eventually picked up Doolittle’s crime thriller “Grey Lady” and finally signed a deal with McArthur & Company for both books.

“Grey Lady,” a psychological suspense novel, is about 56-year-old Hester, the publisher of an alternative magazine who returns to a commune where a young woman died years before. For reasons unknown until you read the book, Hester is complicit in the woman’s death and struggles with this weight on her conscience.

“It very much deals with the psychology behind a crime,” said Doolittle. It’s similar to her style in “Iced Under,” a story about a woman who moves to a small town and finds the body of a girl trapped in a frozen lake.

If you read the books and think the description of the towns sound familiar, that’s because they’re based on Wakefield, Lascelles and Rupert.

“There’s just so many things to do with this area in terms of plot,” Doolittle said. “There’s such diversity in the people themselves and the way they make a living.”

Some readers have told Doolittle they recognize the personalities in “Iced Under,” but the author insists that her characters are not based on any locals. It’s hard to do that, says the writer, when her “characters just take over” and sometimes develop different from what she expects.

Some of the geography is also tweaked. While Doolittle relies on the general scenery of the Gatineau Hills, she plays with the landmarks and adds extra roads.

“It’s not faithful to the actual village, but definitely the tone,” Doolittle said, referring to Wakefield.

The local people and scenery did not just provide backdrops for her novels. Doolittle says she’s received overwhelming support from people since they heard she started writing.

“They just assumed that I would be published one day,” she said. People provided “that confidence that you just don’t find in other cities.”

Both Doolittle books will be released as mass-market paperback novels in fall 2011. They will be available at all major booksellers and at Solstice on Riverside Drive.

There are limited first editions of “Iced Under” available at Solstice and La Peche General Store in Lascelles.

In the meantime, Doolittle is working on her third book and revising “Grey Lady.” Though she’s writing the books as a series, she says you don’t have to read one to understand the other. She does not know how many books will be in the series, but she plans to continue writing about the small communities in the Hills.

“I’m definitely inspired by the local people.”