D’ESCOUSSE: Marjorie Simmins was arguably the most excited woman in D’Escousse when talking to The Reporter last Wednesday, as the local writer received a one-of-a-kind delivery just before picking up the phone.
Copies of her latest book, Year of the Horse, had just arrived.
“They’re in my hands right now,” she told The Reporter. “The timing of this call is so amazing. Yes – it’s here!”
The delivery came at an opportune time, as Simmins will be officially launching the book on September 17 at the Petit de Grat Library. The launch takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., with a reading scheduled for 3 p.m. Now that she has several editions on hand, she’ll be able to offer signed copies for anyone looking to pick one up.
The Petit de Grat event is the first of two official launches, with the other taking place in Halifax. After that, Simmins will be off on a cross-country book tour with her husband Silver Donald Cameron.
“The book is about my experiences with horses throughout my life, starting to ride in Vancouver and being a horse owner there, then coming to Cape Breton and having a little time off, settling into a new region and a new life,” she said.
Once she started riding again, things took an unexpected and unpleasant turn. She had a very bad accident while on horseback, and that experience, terrible as it was, served to provide her with one unique story to tell.
“I had to teach myself to walk again, and that’s what the book is all about,” she said.
“I came to a place where I thought I’d never be able to ride again, and all my adventures with horses would just be memories, or I’d start back again. I decided the latter. There was no way I was going down with my face in the dirt.
“I came back, and I came back with a vengeance.”
Simmins new book comes on the heels of her 2014 offering, Coastal Lives, a memoir about living on Canada’s East and West coasts. Along with glowing reviews, it was selected as a must-read by Atlantic Books Today.
Other accolades came for the writer in 1994 when winning a gold medal at the National Magazine Awards for her essay, “Trips from There to Here.” She also won a gold medal at the 2013 Atlantic Journalism Awards for the best Atlantic magazine article, a profile on Sean Majumder.
Simmins’ other writing includes articles, personal essays, and book reviews.
She said she’s anxious to have readers tackle her new book, and she points out the text is not just for horse lovers.
“Year of the Horse will be enjoyed by people with horses in their life, but it’s far more broad than that,” she said. “This book is for anyone who’s had a really tough time at some point and had to make a decision about which way to go next.
“It’s about horses and healing and improbable dreams.”