Writer Mary Cote-Walkden could be considered the armchair time traveller.
The Armstrong author has taken the subjects of her last three books through the early days of the Rennaisance in Rome, across the battlefields of the Great Depression and the Second World War, and to the present future, where environmental concerns are paramount.
Lately, Cote-Walken has managed to travel the world through the point of a pen and a tap of a keyboard in the span of one-and-a-half years.
Her efforts have just been recogized with two award nominations from the 2012 Independent Book Publishers (IPPY) Awards for her latest novel.
Cote-Walkden’s third literary novel, Ayne, released in February under the name Mary Cote, has been nominated in both the military fiction and regional fiction categories, while her earlier book, Redemption, released in April, 2011, was previously nominated in the religious fiction category.
“I’m intimidated. It’s a nice compliment. I’ve worked at the craft for a lot of years,” said Cote-Walkden, when contacted about the nominations. “For the ones nominated in those kinds of categories, they compete with writers from all over North America, Australia and England.”
Raised in Carseland, Alta., Walkden-Cote lived in Calgary, Edmonton, and Canmore before heading to the Okanagan to live in Summerland before settling in Vernon and Armstrong in 1995.
With her prolific pen –– she also writes mystery and comedy/satire under several pen names –– it’s fitting that on her website reads the tagline: “So many stories, so little time.”
“I find I have less and less time to write as I also mentor writers from around the world through online, virtual courses,” she said.
While her second literary novel, Redemption, was set in 1300s Rome, and is about the corruption in the church before the Vatican even existed, Cote-Walkden based her latest book closer to home.
Based on similar experiences of that of her father’s family, and namely her one uncle, Ayne follows lead character, Blake Calder, and the hardships he and his family endure growing up in the Canadian Prairies during the Depression before he and his brothers are sent off to serve in the Second World War.
Calder ends up serving with The King’s Own Calgary Regiment, a tank unit, which places him in Scotland during the German blitz, and on the shores of Dieppe where he watches hundreds of his brothers fall. He eventually laces up the boot of Italy as a tank commander. Receiving messages from his sister at home, he learns of the whereabouts and battles of his other brothers who are serving, two in the RCAF and one in the Navy. His service is cut short when he is returned home with critical injuries. Twenty years later, Blake returns to Scotland to discover what happened to Ayne, the woman he fell in love with on the first day his feet touched foreign soil.
“There are stories about Canadians that served that you never hear about, which I find tragic,” said Cote-Walkden. “My dad was from a family of 14 kids, so I pared that down, and gave them an extra brother who served in the war. It follows my uncle closely but the outcome is my own for the story.”
Cote-Walkden’s other book, Never Again, Forever, is about a different kind of war.
“It’s about how a family deals about global warming, or what they are told is global warming, when in fact it is a polar reverse which results in a loss of all satellite communications and total disruption in the electrical grid,” she said. “It’s about what happens to society when you have to fend for yourself.”
Despite her saying she has slowed down, Cote-Walkden is expecting to publish another two books in the next year.
“I have a pirate piece that I am working on that is on the slow cooker. It goes back to the female pirates that were famous, and although it’s a fictional story, I want to make them as accurate as I can. The other book is about a draft dodger that comes to Canada and what happens to him. This is one my political axes that I want to grind.”
Results of the 16th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards, honoring the year’s best independently published titles, will be announced in early May, with the awards ceremony to occur on June 4, during BookExpo America in New York.
Most of Cote-Walkden’s books are available online in print and digital. Information is available at www.MaryCoteWalkden.com.