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qathet-based author depicts 'kick-ass' woman protagonist

Novel set in Paris a departure from everyday life, says CaroleAnn Leishman

Whether it's delving into civic and climate leadership positions in the qathet region, designing green builds, project managing affordable homes for seniors, joining an all-women roller derby team or adventuring on a sailboat around BC's coast, CaroleAnn Leishman follows her creative instinct.

Leishman's latest endeavour is a courageous one: writing and publishing a book of fiction, Under Paris Spies, which hit the bookshelves in September of this year.

"I always have stories percolating all the time, and I think this story came to me on one of the trips I took to Paris a couple of years back," said Leishman, who is a former City of Powell River councillor. "The general notion was there, but I never had any time to write or be creative."

However, last winter, Leishman found herself with some spare moments and started diving into writing and art again. 

"Less than a year ago, the book developed from the seed of an idea to me writing a novel," said Leishman.

The main character, according to Leishman, depicts a fictionalized woman in her late 40s having a bit of a mid-life crisis and deciding to go to Paris on a vacation. Once there, she is thrust into espionage, intrigue, and eventually finds herself in the middle of all this action, which includes running into a former lover. 

"[The novel is] a fun departure from everyday life, and I had so much fun writing it and living vicariously through the character," said Leishman. "I found that I would plot out where I thought the story was going, but [it was almost like] the characters started writing the story by themselves, and took [the plot] in new directions."

Leishman credits Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic, for  encouraging her to keep writing. 

"That's been a lifelong challenge of mine, second guessing myself, and saying, 'I'm not good enough', and asking myself, 'who is going to take me seriously?'" said Leishman. "Gilbert's book actually changed my life."

Leishman said she focused on a few tips from the book such as: plough through, don't over edit and write what you yourself would be interested in reading. 

"I've always loved Paris and I like thrillers, romance and espionage," said Leishman. "I really like that idea of a middle-aged protagonist, an empowered, kick-ass woman, who still has an exciting life, and goes on a crazy adventure."

Leishman said creating the habit of writing every day helped her writing start to flow. 

"I kept going every day; it was a great experience," said Leishman.

The author plans to have a local public reading engagement sometime in the future, but the date is to be announced. Until then, her book can be found at Pocket Books on Marine Avenue.

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