November 8th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 45
Local author’s book launch
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
The book launch for The Girl with the Empty Suitcase will be held on Thursday, November 9 at the Crowsnest Community Library at 6 p.m. where guests will have a chance to win prizes, purchase a signed copy of the book, listen to an excerpt read from the book, and participate in a Q&A with the author.
Pass Herald Reporter
If she’s not “teaching, prepping, marking, and extolling the virtues of Shakespeare”, she’s writing, says Crowsnest Consolidated High School (CCHS) English Language Arts teacher Krysta MacDonald.

Writing and working on her debut novel The Girl with the Empty Suitcase, that is, a piece of women’s literary fiction that follows the life and experiences of protagonist Danielle, peeking into the many events that shape her as a person through the eyes of Danielle herself and of her husband Mark.

“It follows a girl’s life from the time she is 12 until after her death. Much of it is based on the relationships that define them and the choices they make. It’s kind of like snippets or looking through a window into their lives at different points throughout, from her growing up, to when they meet, their experiences together and so on,” says the self-published author.A book launch will be held on November 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Crows-nest Community Library, with door prizes, chances to win signed copies of the book and a reading by the author followed by a Q&A. Copies of the book will also be available for purchase.

The CCHS English teacher says she has “always” known she wanted to write a book, as early as five years old when she used to make up stories and write them in crayon. The narrative for The Girl with the Empty Suitcase has been stewing in MacDonald’s mind for some time now.
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“I dabbled for a few years with different ideas and this one was off again, on again,” she says. “About a year or so ago, I started seriously working on this particular one. I was at a conference for teaching and someone was talking about writing and being published, and I thought that I didn’t know what I was waiting for and decided to just do it.”

Throughout the book, there is something to be learned about how people change and remain the same over the course of their lives.

“There are these little moments in life that make up our identities and sometimes, those are the most profound. There’s this idea that relationships have such an effect on who we are, but we also have such an effect on the relationships that make up our lives,” says MacDonald. “It has a cyclical nature of how identity and relationships form one another.”

This idea of how we make up our identity is reflected in the book cover art that depicts an empty suitcase propped on a chair in front of an open window. Painted by her mother-in-law Karen, the cover art reflects the book in many ways.

“The window being open, there’s a lot beyond that the protagonist feels she’s not really catching up to, that life isn’t really matching her expectations. The suitcase being empty, there’s this idea of the baggage that she carries through her life and that she has a choice in what she does and doesn’t take with her,” says MacDonald.
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Although certain chapters came easier than others, MacDonald says the writing generally came easy, flowing out on the page. The biggest challenge was finding the time to let it.

“I’m a teacher, so my time is pretty spoken for. A lot of writers say you have to write a little bit every day and that’s probably excellent advice, but it didn’t really work for me. I would have huge chunks done when I was on breaks from school, like Christmas break or Reading Week. During the school year, it was more sporadic,” she says.

It has been only about three weeks since MacDonald first held a new, freshly printed copy of her book, but among that still-lingering “fresh book” smell, she has already begun planning her second novel. Although planned as a standalone novel, a much-younger Danielle is to make an appearance.

“Throughout this book, Danielle has a pretty complicated relationship with her mother. What I wanted to do was look at her mother before she was a mother, as a young woman in the 60s,” says MacDonald.

The Girl with the Empty Suitcase can be purchased online at Amazon as an e-book and paperback. MacDonald will also be at the Twilight Craft Fair on November 24 and 'Tis the Season Craft Fair on December 16, both in Fernie.

Visit MacDonald’s website for detailed information on her work and upcoming events:
November 8th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 45
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