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Retired Okotoks nurse writes first novel on lunch breaks

Okotoks' newest author hopes her debut book will help women in toxic and abusive relationships find the courage to escape.

Okotoks' newest author hopes her debut book will help women in toxic and abusive relationships find the courage to escape, but maybe not in the same dramatic fashion as A Complicated Goodbye's protagonist, Rebecca Adams. 

Laurie Carmichael said Rebecca's story came to her years ago after watching a report on abusive relationships on the news. That, mixed — perhaps, subconsciously — with personal experience formed the backbone of the first of three novels.

Carmichael, who worked as a nurse for 40 years before retiring "a day before COVID came to town," said she began writing during her lunch breaks.

She would typically enjoy lunch with her husband Daryl, but when he was off for six months, Carmichael found she had time on her hands and would spend her break writing. 

"I started to write the story," she said. "As I told my editor, I just vomit it out, you guys fix it." 

Then, she said, she took some courses on formatting fiction works. 

"So I re-wrote it," she said. "I re-wrote the whole thing from that." 

She was approached by FriesenPress in April 2020 and was asked to submit a manuscript. After rounds of edits and back-and-forths, "she (the book) was born."

Carmichael said she's been asked if Rebecca is based on herself and while she admits there may be some elements of truth, Rebecca is indeed a fictional character. But the ability to walk away is something they have in common. 

"Having that courage and bravery to stand up and say, 'I'm leaving,'" she said. "When people ask me about the book, I ask them first; 'What would you do to leave a life of desperation and sadness? What lengths would you go to leave that and find a better life?'"

Rebecca goes to great lengths to change her fate in this book that fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins would sure to devour. 

Carmichael is hosting a one-day book signing event at Yooneek Books in Okotoks on Saturday, Dec. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A dollar from every book sale will go to support the Okotoks Food Bank. 

Those looking to purchase A Complicated Goodbye can also find it online at Amazon and Indigo in both physical and digital formats. 

Caitlin Clow

About the Author: Caitlin Clow

Caitlin is the editor of the Okotoks Western Wheel and Cochrane Eagle. She graduated from Mount Royal's Journalism program in 2015 and has worked for The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, Postmedia and Black Press.
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