Autobiography Challenge: Meet your judge!
Kirstie McLellan Day knows a thing or two about writing autobiographies. She's penned bestselling memoirs with a slew of famous Canadians, including hockey greats Bob Probert and Theo Fleury - and has a new memoir with Ron MacLean coming out this October called Cornered. In a few weeks, Kirstie will be choosing a winner for the Canada Writes Autobiography Challenge, but while your entries roll in, we took a moment to get her take on how to turn a life story into a bestseller.
How did you get into the business of writing life stories?
All my life I've been compelled to write. I was one of those kids with the flashlight up till two or three in the morning reading True Confessions, Alfred Hitchcock and mysteries. Then I tried to emulate what I read. I'd write stories constantly. My mom had five kids, yet she always made time to type out my stories, no matter how bad they were. When I was married and had some journalistic experience, I decided to try a book. By happenstance, a woman named Liba Cunnings was my massage therapist, and as I got to know her, I learned that she used to be Liba Dolejs - her ex-husband had murdered their two children, aged 10 and 12. We built a bond of trust and she allowed me to write her story [which became the book No Remorse]. During the process, I saw a certain amount of healing take place, maybe even some closure. And it was inspiring and beautiful to behold.
And that's something I've kept with me, even as I got more into writing about hockey stars - it's always been about the person, and the story.
With the upcoming Ron MacLean book, Cornered, you'll have penned three hockey memoirs. Are you a hockey fan?
I'm a big hockey fan, but my books aren't about hockey. They're about people. I have a working knowledge of the sport, but the people I write with are experts. The book shows their expertise.
What makes a good memoir?
I'd say there are four golden rules:
How do you know where to begin a memoir - what do you write on Page 1?
It strikes you like a bolt of lightning. When you're writing, you'll get to a part and you'll say, "Oh, my goodness - this is the beginning."
Have you ever considered writing your own memoir?
Nobody wants to read a book about me, and I know that! People come up to me all the time and say "You should write my story," or "You should write about what happened to my brother" - yeah, right. Save it for your grandkids!
The Canada Writes Autobiography Challenge closes on Friday. Have you sent us your entry yet?
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