We are pleased to introduce Anna Raddon, the author of After Miigaadiwin , which won the 2017 Free Publishing Contest’s Fiction category. The book is now available for order through your local Christian bookstore. We asked Anna to share a little bit about herself, her book, and her writing process.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s in a tiny northern community. Life was simple and I could spend an afternoon riding my bike in circles or swinging in the backyard. The experiences of climbing trees and rocks or sledding down the hill outside the door were as everyday as eating potatoes and drinking spring water. Not that life was easy or perfect, but it was tangible and a bit wild.
When I left my childhood home, I studied Human Nutrition at university where I met my husband. On his first trip to visit my northern homeland, he asked, “You don’t have to live here, do you?” I assured him that northerners know they can’t stay home forever. Six months later, he decided to move north when he graduated. The wild expanse gets into you when you come north! We haven’t left.
When our children came along, I devoted myself to stay home with them full-time, but I continued to write and volunteer-teach while running an at-home business. I felt constantly pulled in a million directions.
One day, I hosted a missionary for lunch who was an author. I showed her a novel I was just beginning to write and asked her opinion.
Looking at it thoughtfully, she asked me, “Do you have to write?”
This took me by surprise. “No, I don’t have to,” I answered. After all, it wouldn’t be very spiritual to have to write, would it?
She smiled. “If you can wait, then focus on your family now and write later. But if you must write, then write.”
That was hard advice to follow and I tried to stop. But I discovered that I did need to write. I was driven to write. It woke me up and got me out of bed. I began to write again and eventually self-published three books.
Q: When did you decide to write a book?
A: When I was in kindergarten, I remember saying that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Of course, no one expects childhood dreams to become reality. I tried writing a novel at age nine, but I never finished. I wrote my first “real” book when I was twenty-nine.
Q: What inspired you to write this particular book, After Miigaadiwin ?
A: I was reading a teen dystopian series with my daughters—of course, the world collapses in war and environmental disaster, but humanity struggles on—and I thought, We need to do better than this . So I began to imagine the story after the story. This idea immediately struck me as profound and relevant.
Q: What does the title mean?
A: Miigaadiwin is the Anishanabe/Ojibway word for “war.” The future culture in the book has a blended language made from First Nations and English. One of the themes of the book is that every culture will be ultimately redeemed. The title literally means “After War” and refers to the distant future when the world has recovered from the war to end all wars.
Q: What is the hardest thing about writing?
A: Without a doubt, making the time to do it regularly. I recently read a great quote by Peter Devries: “I only write when I’m inspired. And I see to it that I’m inspired every morning at nine o’clock.” I love that idea, but it hasn’t happened yet for me.
Q: What advice would you give other writers?
A: Years ago, I took a couple of writing courses at the post-secondary level, and just this year I took a Masters level writing course online. This has developed my writing in new ways. Take courses if you can afford to. Universities often have lower prices for students who merely wish to audit courses.
Q: Tell us about your hobbies.
A: If I didn’t have kids, I think I would sit around reading and writing all day. My family keeps me moving. We cross-country ski together. In the warmer months, we go for walks and hikes on our farm and pick wild blueberries. We own a rock cliff that looks out over a lake, so we hike up there a few times a year and dream about building a tiny house on that cliff.
Q: What do you read for yourself?
A: I’m not trying to sound super spiritual, but I really love reading my Bible. It’s always fresh. Otherwise, I really don’t read as much as I would like, because I’m busy. When I get a chance, I enjoy very old novels. I also read books about health and nutrition and family. And I read very long bedtime stories to my kids. They had to listen to my entire novel over a month of bedtimes!
Q: What’s next?
A: Unfortunately for me, After Miigaadiwin is the first book in a series! So I’ve been ordered to write the next book—because even if no one else reads After Miigaadiwin, my husband and eldest daughter insist they must know what happens next!
Anna Raddon decided to write her first novel at the age of nine. Decades later, inspired by great Canadian authors, Raddon decided to write about the places she knew. Awe-inspiring Canadian landscapes from the shores of Lake Huron (where she resides alongside an Anishinabe First Nation) to the edges of the Arctic (where she summered in a remote village) became the backdrop of After Miigaadiwin . Raddon imagines an irresistibly hopeful future where redemption and healing are tangible, where people and cultures honour each other and their Creator, and where a simple gift can change the world.