It’s her debut novel and already it is an award nominee.
Originally from the Bahamas, fiction writer and poet Janice Lynn Mather has lived in Tsawwassen since 2011. Her debut novel, Learning to Breathe, is a Governor General’s Award finalist and has recently been nominated for the BC Book Prizes.
Released in 2018, Learning to Breathe is a coming of age story geared toward a younger audience.
“The novel is ideal for anyone 14 years or older,” said Mather. “It has been very well received. Receiving the award nominations is very humbling.”
Mather moved to Canada to study writing, specifically creative writing at the University of British Columbia.
“Writing has always been a passion,” she said. “After writing other projects, I became passionate about writing about issues of girls and women. That’s where the idea and interest of this story came about.”
Learning to Breathetells the story of Indira Ferguson, who has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules: study hard in school, be respectful and never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially living in her mother’s shadow.
When Indy is sent to stay in Nassau, trouble follows her and she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth. Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home.
After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if she’s found that place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof — it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.
Mather is already working on her second novel, Facing the Sun, which will be released next year.
It is also a teen novel that follows four friends who are experiencing change in a quiet beachside community.
“They are also working through challenges in their own families and have to come to grips as they get older whether they can maintain their friendships through all the changes in their lives,” said Mather.
“A lot of my writing so far tends to be set in the Bahamas, but since I have lived in Canada now since 2002, there is certainly more cross-over into Canada. I also find myself intrigued by nature and our relationship to it or the places we are from, so certainly I draw inspiration from that. I think a story can be set anywhere and can be inspired by talking with anyone.”
Learning to Breathe is available locally at Albany Books in Tsawwassen and Black Bond Books in Ladner.