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Meet Our Neighbour: Author Carolyn Huizinga Mills


Life + Learning

  • Author Carolyn Huizinga Mills
  • Book Cover of the Good Son

Veronica, Queen's Square | May 19, 2021

One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to meet so many amazing authors and create wonderful events to help celebrate their books. This week we are luckily enough to talk to Carolyn Huizinga Mills who’s first novel, The Good Son, was released March 2021.

Ever since reading L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon as a child, Carolyn Huizinga Mills has dreamed of being a writer. In 2014, her story “Without a Soul” placed first in the Canadian Authors Association Short Story Competition, and in 2017, her story “Finders” placed second in the Alice Munro Short Story Competition. Carolyn’s first picture book, The Little Boy Who Lived Down the Drain, was chosen as a 2018 Blue Spruce Honour Book.

Carolyn is also a seventh-grade teacher and loves to share her passion for reading and writing with her students. She grew up in Calgary, Alberta, and now lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband and two children. In addition to reading and writing, Carolyn loves playing soccer, camping, travelling, and eating dark chocolate.

On Thursday, May 20 at 7:00 pm, Kayleigh Platz will be talking to Carolyn. They will be discussing her book The Good Son. Please click the link to register:

Carolyn was kind enough to answer some questions, so we can get to know her a better.

What was the inspiration for The Good Son?
I was actually on a fishing trip with my husband when I started jotting down the initial story ideas. I was thinking about how our perceptions of the past inform our life choices and ultimately the people we become. I started with a "what if" idea and the story grew from there. What if an event from someone's childhood permeated their life, haunting them, but their understanding of it was flawed? How would they react, if as an adult, they were confronted with the truth? How would they reconcile opposing realities? Those types of questions formed the germs of the story.

What comes first, the plot or characters?
I think for me it's a bit of both. The idea for the story is there, but at the same time so are the main people who will inhabit it. I am not a plotter (although I often wish I was!) so I figure it out as I go along, which sometimes means I'm surprised by the direction the story takes. I also figure my characters out as I go along, preferring to do a more in-depth character analysis or profile after I know them a bit better.

For my current novel-in-progress, I only started completing a profile for my main character after I was 50,000 words into the first draft. That's also the point I realized I really needed to do some plot work before I could write the final third of the story.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes when I am trying to hit a specific word count and it's just not coming, I reward myself with M&Ms. I set aside the exact number of M&Ms it would take to hit my word count if I ate one every fifty words. So, if I want to accomplish 500 words, I count out ten M&Ms, and it's surprising how much eating a single M&M every few minutes helps!

Describe your writing space.
I mostly work in our office, which is a sun-filled space at the front of our house and which has both a desk and a very comfortable "reading" chair. I'm often curled up in that chair with my laptop, but if I'm editing or referring to notes, I tend to sit at the desk. I also do a lot of writing on our couch, or at the dining room table if I want to spread out, or on the back patio in nice weather. The office, however, is my home base and since it has French doors, I can block myself off in order to concentrate while still being able to see into the rest of the house.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Don't give up! Writing is a long game, but perseverance pays off. You have to keep sitting down and doing the thing, even when the rejections pile up or the words won't come or the end seems so so far away. Also, keep learning. Attend workshops, read blogs, read in your genre, find other writers - you don't have to do any of it alone. Well, you have to do the writing alone, but there is so much support and advice and really almost unlimited resources out there to help you on your journey.

The Meet Our Neighbours series is all about introducing you to local businesses, makers, and performers.