Categories: Female Authors - Anglophone Authors - Authors of Juvenile Fiction; - Fundy Coast
Darlene Ryan is an award-winning author, editor, and mixed-media artist. She attended Saint John High School and has a BSc. from the University of New Brunswick and a BEd. from St. Thomas University.
She lives in southern New Brunswick with her husband and daughter. Her first book, the non-fiction memoir, A Mother’s Adoption Journey chronicled the adoption of her daughter from China. She is also the author of Kisses, Kisses, Kisses, a children’s picture book published by the UNB Early Childhood Education Centre and the Born to Read program.
Darlene’s teen novels include Rules for Life (2004), Saving Grace (2008), Responsible (2007), and Five Minutes More (2009). She also writes the Magical Cats of Mayville Heights mysteries as “Sofie Kelly."
How has New Brunswick influenced your work?
Family comes up again and again in my writing and family is something that’s central to Maritime life. I think my feelings about the importance of family connections and the complications of family relationships have been shaped by growing up in this part of Canada.
As well, even though none of my books are set in a specific New Brunswick area, bits of my favorite places seem to creep into my books. For instance, several people noticed the similarity between the high school D’Arcy attends in Five Minutes More and my old high school, Saint John High. And there are some scenes in Rules for Life that make readers think of Saint John.
What is your favourite New Brunswick book, and why?
Alden Nowlan’s Bread, Wine and Salt. He was self-educated and so incredibly talented. Every time I read his poetry I find something new.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?
Having Kisses, Kisses, Kisses be part of the Born to Read program will probably always be a highlight for me. I’m proud to have been a small part of a program that encourages parents to read to their kids. I love meeting little kids who tell me they have the book in their baby bags. One little guy looked at me like I was a rock star because I’d written his favorite book.
|New Brunswick Arts Board Creation Grants - 1991
|YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
|Tayshas Reading List, Texas Library Association
|Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice (list)
|ALA Best Books for Young Adults
|Nomination - YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten
|Nomination - Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature
|Nomination - Stellar Book Award
|Dr. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell Early Childhood Literacy Award
Five Minutes More
The top of the stairs opens into a big room and the whole space is full of coffins.
My breath sticks in my chest. I hear myself make a sucking sound halfway between a gasp and a heave, but no one else seems to notice. There's nowhere to look and not see them. They’re hanging from the ceiling, mounted on the walls, displayed on stands in rows like some kind of death department in a store. There’s polished wood, metals that gleam like new change, velour and even some kind of white vinyl with studs that looks like it was recycled from an old car seat.
I close my eyes, but the image of the room is printed on the inside of my eyelids in swirling colors, like some kind of psychedelic negative. I open them again and try to take a deep breath.
Five minutes more, I tell myself. Five minutes was what my dad said when I didn’t want to get a needle, or go to the dentist. It’s what he said when I hid under my bed on the first day of kindergarten.
"Five minutes. Then if you don’t want to stay we’ll go for french fries." And if I wanted to leave when the five minutes were up he’d say, "We’re already here. Let’s just stay for five more minutes and if you want to leave after that we’ll go get those fries."
My dad could five-minutes-more me through almost anything. And after, we always ended up at Fern’s Diner sharing a big plate of fries with gravy on an over-sized yellow pressed-paper plate.
"D'Arcy." My mother motions me over to her.
"I think you'll be very satisfied with this," Mr. Rosborough says, as though we were going to take the...thing home with us.
Up close he gives off the scent of flowers and something else that seems familiar, but that I can't identify. The smell is sticky. It makes my head throb. I start to breathe through my mouth and try not to think about what that smell could be.
"What do you think?" Mom asks. The one they’re standing beside is storm cloud gray with some kind of space age polymer finish. The inside is lined with a shiny blue ruffled fabric, like a tacky tuxedo shirt.
Little sparkles of light are dancing around the edges of my vision. Yesterday my dad drove his car into the river that runs beside the old highway. How am I supposed to answer?
"It's nice," I tell her.