Mary Walsh says she couldn't bear the thought of dying without having written a book, so that's what she did.
"Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to write a novel, because I was read to and then I read vociferously," she said.
"I really feel like writing kind of saved my life, in a way, and so I kind of wanted to be part of that crowd that had saved my life, you know? But I never really had the guts to do it."
The actor, comedian and activist was at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg on Sunday for a signing of her first book, Crying for the Moon. The novel follows Maureen Brennan as she comes of age in Newfoundland in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Walsh, who's known for her work on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, often wrote her own material as a performer.
Writing a novel is entirely different, she said..
"As a performer, I write my own material all the time, but I have some control over how you're receiving it. If you don't seem that open to it, I can shift it, I can move the tone. I can be kind of more charming or more goofy or something that will help," she said.
"But with the book, it just goes out on its own in the world and people have to, you know, judge it without me."
Walsh, like her lead character, grew up in Newfoundland in the '60s and '70s. As a reader, she said she rarely found characters whose experiences mirrored hers, so as a writer, she wanted to create them for others.
"I'm going to be 65 next month, and so I thought that thought that people have, which is, 'If not now, when?'" Walsh said.
"Even when it started to come out and I was so terrified about people reading it — as I continue to be to a certain extent — I still felt like, well, even if it's no good, I actually got it done. I actually did it. So that is thrilling, for me."