A local author is proud to release her first novel. Shelby Cain has been working on her novel Mountain Girl for the better part of seven years.
Cain, a local writer whose work has been featured in The Free Press and the Fernie Fix, says it’s a great feeling to hold a copy of the finished product in her hands.
“It’s really surreal. Because of the journey it took to get to this point, to hold it, it feels like holding so much of my life in my hands,” said Cain. “It’s a very strange feeling but it feels very good.”
Mountain Girl is a work of fiction, detailing the story of a young girl who is kidnapped while jogging in the mountains. She starts to bond with her captor, a man in his 20s name Jasper, and suffers from Stockholm syndrome, creating an interesting dynamic between the main characters.
Cain says that while the novel is a work of fiction, she did draw on aspects of her own life for the story.
“When I was first writing it, I kind of thought I wanted to write a story that wasn’t attached to me or my life at all. But now, I think that it is really hard to do that. I was obviously drawn into things that obviously interested me, and then in tough times I went back to that whole thing of write what you know,” she said.
Cain does not have any formal training in writing. Rather, she is from a science background, which had a fundamental role in the creation of the story. While studying at the University of Alberta, she took all of the psychology classes her timetable would allow for and was fascinated by Stockholm syndrome.
“It is also called traumatic bonding. Over the years of studying it, it’s kind of like a spectrum disorder in that it relates to domestic abuse and women who find they can’t get away from someone who is abusing them and how our mind kind of can work as a defense mechanism in a way to keep us safe. I was really interested in that,” said Cain.
Cain embarked on writing the novel after having her first daughter. She had a desire to do something she had never done before, and was inspired, above all else, by Oprah Winfrey.
“It was actually at the time that the Oprah show was really popular and she just celebrated authors in such a cool way, and I thought that is amazing,” she said. “That is something that I would like to try.”
Coming from a science background, Cain says the writing process may have taken longer to complete but it allowed her to let the creative process take over, disregarding rules that writers are often bound by.
“I had so much fun. I let it all go. I read this book about how you should not edit yourself when you first write and you should just let it all go,” she said. “I had to take my science brain and turn it right off and I let everything that was creatively coming go, which I have never done in my life. It was really an interesting thing to do, and I loved it.”
Fernie-based author, Shelby Cain, is releasing her first novel titled Mountain Girl on June 2. Submitted photo
“I think if I had a writing background, it would have taken a lot less time to do it, because I had some fundamental mistakes in there. But I guess, in a way, because I didn’t, when I decided to do it I really just went for it and didn’t follow any rules,” she continued.
Cain credits a writing class she took at the College of the Rockies taught by Fernie-based author Angie Abdou for making the book a reality. Under the direction of Abdou, Cain rewrote the entire book, adding in details while taking others out. It was after working with Abdou that Cain got an agent and sent the book to publishers.
“It got rejected from them all — really amazingly nice rejections,” she said. “They all sent me these beautiful letters, these are all the things we love about it [and] this is why we can’t publish it.”
Randall McNair, owner of Oolichan Books, heard about Cain’s novel and asked if he could read it. Cain was unsure about Oolichan at first, based on their record of publishing poetry and literary fiction. However, in the end, Cain found a home for her book at Oolichan.
“Randall read it, and he said it’s not something that he normally read, but he really liked it. He signed me on and I worked with this amazing editor out of Nelson, named Tara Cunningham.”
After an intense line-by-line edit with Cunningham, Mountain Girl was complete. Cain is now hoping to promote the book throughout the summer and embark on a book tour in the fall.
Cain is clear about where she would love to see the book — in airport bookstores.
“I wanted to write a book that you would grab in the airport and you would read it on the plane and say I hope this plane keeps flying until I can finish this. That was my goal with this because I love those books,” she said.
While she is not sure if the book will reach the airport shelves, she is so grateful for the support she has received from her family and the local community.
“I just feel like people here are so appreciative and supportive of anyone who tries to create something, which is really cool. It makes you feel like you can just try stuff and throw it out there. It has been amazing.”
An official launch party for Mountain Girl will be hosted at the Fernie Heritage Library on June 2 at 7 p.m. Cain hopes the book will be for sale at Polar Peek books before the launch.