• R.I.P. Rachna Gilmore, 67 (Indian-born Canadian writer: A Screaming Kin

    From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Sun Feb 14 14:01:23 2021
    Born in New Delhi, she moved to London, England in her teens, then to Canada in the 1970s. She lived in Ottawa from 1990 on - I think.


    GILMORE, Rachna (nee Kalra) October 11, 1953- February 1, 2021 Rachna Gilmore (nee Kalra) passed away peacefully on February 1, 2021. A prolific writer of numerous picture books, early readers, and novels for young readers, Rachna will be remembered and
    missed by her older brother Deepak (Sue), her children Karen (Ian Paul) and Robin (Jonathan Coit), her grandchildren (Rian and Priya), and many friends and family members around the world. Rachna was born in India, the second child of Surendranath and
    Shakuntala Kalra. When she was 14, the family moved to London, England, where Rachna spent her teenage and university years. Always an avid reader with a bold and adventurous spirit, as a young adult, Rachna followed her childhood fascination with the
    world of Anne of Green Gables and moved across the Atlantic to Prince Edward Island. In PEI, she met and married her beloved husband Ian Gilmore (1950-2012), had two daughters, and fulfilled her long-held dream of becoming a children's author with the
    publication of her first book, My Mother Is Weird. In 1990, Rachna and her family relocated to Ottawa, where Rachna continued to raise her family and build her writing career, publishing many acclaimed books for young readers over the next twenty-five
    years and a work of adult fiction under the pseudonym Rachna Mara. She survived two bouts of breast cancer in the 1990s and found solace and enjoyment in long walks, meditation, and tending her beautiful garden. In 1999, Rachna was deeply honoured when
    her book, A Screaming Kind of Day, was awarded the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature. Despite the deeply felt loss of her husband, Ian, in 2012 and a diagnosis that brought many difficult side-effects in the last years of her life,
    Rachna never lost her enjoyment and appreciation of family and friends (including two grandchildren Rachna often remarked could “do no wrong"), her cheeky sense of humour, or her love of good stories, well-told. Rachna brought a great deal of colour,
    beauty, and laughter to the world and will be remembered and missed by many. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private family visitation was held on February 4 and a celebration of life will be planned for a later date. Memories and condolences may be
    shared at www.kellyfh.ca For those wishing to make in memoriam donations, contributions to Kiva, CODE (code.ngo), or Plan Canada are greatly appreciated.

    About A Screaming Kind of Day:

    "Scully, a young hearing-impaired girl, wants to play outside in the rain, away from her brother Leo and her busy mother. She loves to feel the sensation of the rain running over her face. After escaping briefly to the wet green trees outside, she is
    grounded and not allowed to leave the house for a day. As evening approaches, Scully and her mother are able to share a special moment together watching the stars."

    (photo and her awards)


    (LONG profile from 2001)


    "...Through all these years though, the thought of being a writer was there in the background. After I came to PEI and got my Education degree, the idea grew and grew. I jotted down stories and scribbled tales, ideas and descriptions of people. I carried
    a notebook around with me and talked a lot about writing but somehow I didn't and couldn't settle down to it. One day, my husband and I were walking on the beach and I was lamenting as usual, 'I've got to get down to really writing. I don't know why I'm
    not doing this.' Ian said to me, 'I think maybe sometimes we're afraid to start things because we're afraid we may not succeed. It's so much easier to be successful in our daydreams.'"
    "That really jolted me, and I realized it was true."
    "In one of the Anne books, I think Anne of the Island, there is a character, Philippa Gordon, who is extremely indecisive. She finally learns to cure this indecision by projecting what she wishes she would have done when she's 80. Thinking about that,
    I realized, 'I don't want to wake up one day and find I'm 80 years old and wish that I'd started to write years ago.' I was around 30 when I began to write seriously, and I think I started sending stories out to publishers in 1984-5 because my first
    picture book was accepted in '86. Now when I look at some of the stuff I sent out, I think, 'Did I ever have gall! Thank goodness that wasn't published...

    "...My Mother is Weird came out of my own experience. I used to read a lot of books to my kids. It suddenly occurred to me that there were many books written about kids having bad days, but there weren't any about moms or dads having bad days, and yet,
    every kid watches their mom or dad have a bad day at some time. I know that an idea is worth pursuing if it gives me that charge and chill, and this one did. So I played around with it in my head. I thought it would be funny to write a story about a mom
    who had horns and claws and pointy teeth when she was in a bad mood. I liked that idea but didn't know where to take the story, didn't have the voice of the character, and couldn't really connect with the emotional state of the young girl. I thought
    about calling it 'My Mother, the Monster,' but it didn't seem quite right."
    "Then one day, I was in a rush to go somewhere, and my daughter Karen, then six, was trying to talk to me. I said, 'Karen, can't you see this is not a good time? I've got horns and claws and pointy teeth. Just go away.' She shook her head, rolled her
    eyes and said, 'Ah Mom, you're weird.' That was it! I thought, 'It's the word I've been looking for. It's subtle, and it contains many meanings.' Suddenly I could hear this voice in my ear, 'My mother is so weird. When she wakes up, she has horns on her
    head and claws and pointy teeth.' I tend not to write a story until I can feel the shape of it, right from the beginning to the end and I have the voice. All of it fell into place, and so, even though I was in a hurry to go out, I stopped and scribbled
    it down. It was one of those few stories that actually didn't end up changing a great deal. There were deletions and tidying up, but the actual core of it remained. Partly we write to explore, or at least I do. This book may have been an exploration for
    me to try and understand what my daughter felt like when I was in a cranky mood. It probably came from some place within me that felt guilty about the fact that I did have cranky moods..."

    (audio interview from 2007)

    (long Q&A from 2011)

    First questions:

    1. If you had not become a writer what do you think you would be doing for a living?

    I'd be a doctor. I'd be cutting into and investigating bodies instead of investigating my characters and their stories. (I guess if I took that metaphor further I might say I'd be a grave robber, digging up bodies instead of characters! But I wouldn't.

    2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you nurture that dream?

    When I was quite young, around 12 or so, and I'd re-read LITTLE WOMEN for the umpteenth time, and I decided I wanted to be a writer like Jo. For quite a while, though, all I did was carry around a notebook and jot down ideas, which made me feel terribly
    smug and important but didn't really advance the dream much. It wasn't until I was around thirty -- when the fear of never trying triumphed over the fear of trying and not succeeding - that I started to write steadily, to learn my craft, take courses,
    and just write, write, write.

    3. Who were some of your biggest supporters and contributors to your early success?

    A university professor - I was studying biology (long story, was still thinking of Medicine then) - who properly took the conceit out of me by telling me that I needed to write plainly and clearly rather than plump my papers with unnecessary flowery
    language, which I did to mask my lack of knowledge. And Richard Lemm, an English professor at U.P.E.I. from whom I took a creative writing course, and who told me that the writing process "is a long, slow apprenticeship" and that I should aim to perfect
    my writing rather than scramble for publication. And my first editor, Laurie Brinklow at Ragweed Press, for taking on my first book!

    (short 2011 interview)

    (three Kirkus reviews)

    (reader reviews)

    (video read-alouds)


    Picture books
    My Mother is Weird (1988)
    When I Was A Little Girl (1989)
    Jane's Loud Mouth (1990)
    Aunt Fred is a Witch (1991)
    Lights for Gita (1994)
    Roses for Gita (1996)
    Wild Rilla (1997)
    A Gift for Gita (1998)
    A Screaming Kind of Day (1999)
    Grandpa's Clock (2006)
    Making Grizzle Grow (2007)
    Catching Time (2010)
    The Flute (2011)

    Children's novels
    A Friend Like Zilla (1995)
    Mina's Spring of Colors (2000)
    A Group of One (2001)
    The Sower of Tales (2005)
    The Trouble With Dilly (2009)
    That Boy Red (2011)

    Early readers
    Ellen's Terrible TV Trouble (1999)
    Fangs and Me (1999)

    Snapshots From The Fringes (2010)

    Adult fiction
    Of Customs and Excise (1991, under pseudonym Rachna Mara)


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