Reviews & Press

Scugog history inspires Lucy E.M. Black’s successful debut novel

FOCUS ON SCUGOG – APRIL 2018

Blackstock residents will be familiar with the intriguing local story, which inspired author Lucy E.M. Black to write her historical novel entitled Eleanor Courtown.

Twenty-six years ago, when Lucy began her teaching career at Port Perry High School, she moved with her husband Michael to a 25-acre farm in Blackstock. The rich sandy loam in this area is ideal for growing crops. Lucy was curious about a farm property to the east, which was always fallow…

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‘Storylines’ Interview on 88.7FM The Bay Muskoka

Learn more about Lucy E. M. Black’s debut novel Eleanor Courtown in her latest interview with 88.7FM The Bay Muskoka.

Click the play button below to listen now!

Scugog author uses farmer’s fable as plot line for new novel

Community October 3, 2017 by Chris Hall Port Perry Star

Prior to living in Port Perry, Lucy E.M. Black resided on a small farm in the Blackstock area for 16 years. During her time there, Black became curious about a farm down the road that laid fallow, finally one day asking a local farmer about the history of the homestead.

His response — an attempted poisoning a century ago and cursed lands as a result — stuck with Black, who years later has turned that nugget of information into the plot line for newest book, Eleanor Courtown, which will be released in October.

The farmer’s tale goes something like this: about 120 years ago, an Irish family was farming their land when a spinster cousin shows up at their place. The family plans to poison her, but the cousin doesn’t die — instead, she spits up the concoction and nearby farm animals eat the vomit and die.

A vet comes to examine the animals and, after determining the animals died a sinister death, alerts the authorities. Arriving three days later, the police find no trace of the family or cousin.

“I thought it was such a good story that it needed to be told,” said Black, who came up blank in her efforts to research the story at the Scugog Shores Museum.

Over the last 10 years, Black has spent countless hours researching for her new book — even travelling as far as Ireland in an effort to uncover some new details — and has created a novel that’s loosely based on the story the farmer told her.

“It’s a great yarn, a really fun yarn,” said Black, who also released her first novel, The Marzipan Fruit Basket, earlier this year.

Readers with knowledge of the area will quickly pick up local landmarks referenced in the novel, from homes and locales to the community’s St. John’s Anglican Church.

“There’s lots of things in there people familiar with the township will be able to glom onto and chuckle,” said Black, noting the book gives a nod to Scugog’s earliest settlers.

“Writing is a bit of a disease, to tell you the truth,” said Black.

One of her future projects centres on Persian carpets and new immigrants and she’s also focused on documenting the history of brickworks in Ontario.

A book launch for Eleanor Courtown will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Blue Heron Books, 62 Brock St. West in Uxbridge. The book will also be available at Books Galore and More (175 Perry St.) in Port Perry.

The 293-page soft cover novel is $19.95 and also available online at Amazon and Indigo.

Scugog author weaves 24 short stories together in debut novel

Community Jul 13, 2017 by Chris Hall Port Perry Star

The Marzipan Fruit Basket, penned by Lucy E.M. Black, is a collection of fictional short stories wrapped together in 146 pages that delves into the challenges women face and their life journeys.

While Black has been writing for 20 years and has had half of her works printed in various publications over the past decade, The Marzipan Fruit Basket marks the first time her stories have been printed in book format.

The book, says Black, is about “women who come to terms with the difficult realities in their lives and how they make adjustments” when faced with challenges such as loss, abuse, and illness.

“They’re fictional stories with a moment of truth,” she explains.

Black is currently the principal at Brock High School and has previously worked at Uxbridge Secondary School and Port Perry High School. She’s lived in Port Perry for the past four years.

She studied creative writing at the undergraduate level and earned an M.A. in 19th-century British fiction.

Her works have been published in Cyphers Magazine, Under The Gum Tree, the Hawai’i Review, Vintage Script, and the Antigonish Review.

“It was an interesting and exciting experience,” says Black of the work that went into producing her debut book of short stories. “People were very generous and very kind.”

Each of the stories are a quick read, about four to six pages in length.

“It was interesting to see which (stories) the editors (chose). Some of the stories they left out I thought were really good,” she says, hinting that a sequel may be in the cards.

“There’s lots more to tell.”

According to Black: “The stories in this collection are unified by a sense of dislocation. In each of these exquisite pieces, an underlying element of disturbance and disharmony threads its way through the narrative, while the characters struggle to navigate conscious choices and come to terms with new realities. Their voices are driven by perspective that views the complexity of life journeys as a manifestation of intentional decisions, circumstances beyond one’s control, and the need to reflect upon the combination of both in order to become fully realized.”
 Black also plans to release a historical fiction novel in September based on a true story about an Irish woman who moves to a small farm in Cartwright Township (current-day Blackstock) in the 1870s.

The Marzipan Fruit Basket is available for just under $20 at Books Galore and More (175 Perry St., Port Perry) and Blue Heron Books (62 Brock St. W.). It an also be purchased online at www.amazon.ca or www.49thshelf.com.

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150 for 150: Canadian Authors Recommend 150 Outstanding Books

Listly by FortyNinth Shelf

We asked 150 noted Canadian authors to recommend their favourite Canadian book.

The resulting list should give readers—from Canada and around the world—150 different ideas for their next CanLit book. Please use the built-in tools below to comment and to share the list or individual books with friends.

96 Donna Morrissey recommends “The Marzipan Fruit Basket” by Lucy Black

jul 01, 2017

I first met Lucy Black’s characters through mentoring her at Humber Collage. Instantly I recognized Black’s talent. Her lost characters, their complexities, their disturbing presence in our midst, all revealed through Lucy Black’s unique voice. When my work-term with her had ended, I could not let go of those stories and continued working with her. The end result is a compilation of exquisite stories, published by Inanna Press, 2017. Pain, loss and despair leads the reader straight to the heart of each character, allowing us to connect with their emotional upheaval, and somehow, evoking us to looking inward into our own lives. And uncomfortably, finding connections with the disconnected that walk amongst us. Perhaps you’ll think me biased, and perhaps I am. And then I find another story in The Marzipan Fruit Basketthat I had not yet seen, and I am taken all over again.

Donna Morrissey is the author of six bestselling novels including Sylvanus Now, Kit’s Law, and most recently The Fortunate Brother.150 for 150: Canadian Authors Recommend 150 Outstanding Books