84-year-old Comox author pens first novel

Pandemic allows writer to complete a project she began 17 years ago

Looking Back, by Sheelane Stigant, is in Comox Valley bookstores now. Photo supplied.

The coronavirus pandemic has had some residual upside.

With more time at home, some people have discovered — or, in some cases, rediscovered — their love for home gardening.

Others have spent more time in their music or art studios, creating personal masterpieces.

For 84-year-old Comox author Sheelane Stigant, it was the motivation she needed to complete her first novel – one she started 17 years ago.

“I had surgery on my foot in March. I was in a boot for weeks, plus the COVID [lockdown], so that got me on the computer and able to finish it,” she said. “Until that point it was all hand-written notes over the years. I had one of my friends help me put it into chapters – formulate it – so that was the whole spur to get it done.”

Looking Back chronicles the first 60-plus years of Stigant’s life – from her birth in a London hospital, to the announcement (in 2000) that her daughter-in-law was going to have a baby.

“So I began it with a birth, and ended it with a birth,” she said.

Stigant said she got the idea for the book while dogsitting for a friend, in the early 2000s.

“I had to retire from nursing early, because of my back, so I started dogsitting,” she explained. “I was dogsitting for friends who live right on the ocean, and it reminded me of home, in Northern Ireland.”

She said she and a group of friends started a small writing club – The Scribblers – and all took a course at North Island College on memoir writing.

“We [Scribblers] stuck together, and just kept meeting … through this group, eventually, I managed to put together this group. It’s been a long time in the making, but it’s finished now, and I am just starting to sell them,” she said.

Looking Back is available at Blue Heron Books in Comox, the Laughing Oyster in Courtenay, or by contacting Stigant directly, at sheelane@gmail.com

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