After years of writing countless non-fiction books, a local author has released her novel.
Bowmanville resident Sher Leetooze, 75, started writing in 1994, beginning with a book on the bicentennial of the Township of Darlington.
“It didn’t seem like anyone was going to be doing anything, so I started researching the history of the township,” she says, adding she wrote columns for the Canadian Statesman, a newspaper in Bowmanville at the time.
“At the end of the year, I took all the columns and combined them into a book.”
From there, Leetooze says she got hooked on researching history and went on to write about the other five townships in the Old County.
Leetooze has also written in many other non-fiction categories, including three books on the history of the Bible, Christians, and emigration from Britain and immigration to Canada, World War I nurses of the Old County, and the history of all the churches that had ever been built in the Old County.
She’s also written books on topics including genealogy, cooking, and gardening.
However, what made her switch gears and try something new, she says, was COVID.
“I was sitting at home with not a lot to do,” she says.
She says one day, she opened the bottom drawer in her filing cabinet and there was all this stuff she’d written since the 80s.
“I never did anything with it,” she says, noting it was all fiction.
“So I pulled it out and started reading these old manuscripts from 40 or 50 years ago,” she continues.
She says she started typing them up because they were all hand written, adding she does all her writing on paper, and then types it up.
This, Leetooze says, is also where she found her Book of Shorts, which contained about a dozen short stories in that drawer.
“Then I started editing the longer stuff, and that’s how The Queen’s Pawn came to be published.”
She says the manuscript was written in the 80s when Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Great Britain, which is the time period the book is set in.
Leetooze says she’s always had a passion for writing.
“My brain never stops,” she says, explaining she still has a lot of non-fiction that she wants to do.
“There’s still a couple more manuscripts in the bottom drawer that I will consider doing, and I’ve got a couple more that have been in the back of my brain for years and years,” she adds, noting she likely has six to eight years of fiction left to go before she heads back into the non-fiction world.
“By then I’ll be too old to worry about it,” she jokes.
Aside from her writing, Leetooze is also very active in her community and has received a number of honours recognizing for the work she’s done.
She’s the coordinator of one of the community gardens in Bowmanville, secretary for the local legions, and treasurer for the Newcastle Historical Society.
She has also received the Ontario Historical Society’s community award for research and recording the history of the townships of the Old County, and in 2002, she received the Queen’s Jubilee award for the same thing.
Leetooze is also readying two more fictions for publishing – Finding Sean McRory, and Gordon McKay.
Gordon McKay will be published later this year, and Finding Sean McRory has been sent to an international competition in England and will be published once the competition ends.
The Queen’s Pawn will also be entered into the Canadian Book Club awards competition later this fall.
The Queen’s Pawn can be found on Leetooze’s website, www.sherleetooze.com.