Local author Cindy Matthews to launch first book July 1 in Cargill

·3 min read

BROCKTON – Cindy Matthews, educator, artist, and former Walkerton Herald-Times columnist, has a new title – book author.

She’s just completed her first book of short stories, entitled, appropriately enough, Took You So Long.

This collection of contemporary short stories is published by Porcupine’s Quill, of Erin, Ont., and will be coming out soon.

The official book launch is scheduled for 2 p.m., Friday, July 1 at the Mill Pond Gallery and Bookstore in Cargill.

She’ll be in Paisley the third Saturday in July.

Matthews has been writing short stories for the past decade, after she retired as a vice-principal in special education for a nearby board of education. She was a reader for the Alice Munro story writing contest.

Her columns were enjoyed by readers of this newspaper prior to the COVID pandemic.

Although she’d done a lot of writing during her career in education, writing short stories has a distinct relation to her work as an artist. She explained it’s about “capturing a moment in time.”

She said, “I like to build worlds,” whether in pictures or words. “I’m doing this because I have something to say.”

Matthews explained that the challenge with a short story is its length – it’s a “short, intimate look, a moment in time.” She said she likes experimenting with the form – one story is written as a blog.

“I love the form,” she said. “It’s so immediate – the action has to start on the first line.”

The challenge of the form is also part of its appeal for Matthews.

“I like to get it done and move on to the next thing.”

She recalls that as a child, writing wasn’t her favourite thing. However, as an adult, she’s discovered the beauty in editing.

Her short story writing was honed under the mentorship of Max Layton, son of Irving Layton, through CSARN (original name – Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network). The organization pairs a mentor with an author, and they worked together to shape the stories. The mentorship was free, Matthews notes.

The title of the book has a lot of significance to her.

“What I’m trying to say is, it sometimes takes us a while to get where we’re going… life doesn’t stop when you retire. I look on retirement as a renaissance,” she said.

“To actualize a dream is really cool.”

She was delighted to be accepted by a publisher. Porcupine Quill is a small press that takes on only a few books each year.

The publisher has posted a write-up about Matthews on the Porcupine Quill website that includes the following information:

“Took You So Long presents emotionally resonant stories about ultra-modern relationships and deeply flawed characters mired in the circumstances of their everyday lives.

“Often out of sight and certainly out of mind, the characters in Took You So Long inhabit the unknown neglected landscape of non-urban Ontario.

“A morel-seeking gastronome falls into a gopher hole and must await rescue by her milquetoast neighbour. A donation bin picker is on the hunt for her next great find—and husband number four—despite cohabitating with three of her exes. A lonely widower discovers that his robotic full-service companion makes him lonelier than ever. A son’s hunting trip with his father forces him to confront the terrible truth of physical decline.

“Compassionate, honest and propelled by forceful emotion, her stories ask us to question who we are, where we belong, and how we move on in the face of adversity.”

Matthews lives at what she describes as “the top end of Brockton.” She’s married to John Matthews and has three adult children, all married, and grandchildren. She turns 65 in November.

To learn more about Took You So Long, check out Matthews’ website: cindymatthews.ca or google The Porcupine’s Quill to pre-order a copy.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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