Novel set on Amherst Island launches at three local events

Photo and book image via Claire Ross Dunn.

Claire Ross Dunn, a Toronto TV writer with ties to Amherst Island, is set to launch her debut novel. At Last Count is set on Amherst Island, and it’s there her work will be introduced to the island’s residents on Friday, Jul. 8, 2022.

According to a release from Dunn’s publicity team, she has worked on television series such as Degrassi and Little Mosque on the Prairie, and has written several movies for streaming. Her family ties to Amherst Island are through her husband’s parents, and she continues to maintain a connection to the island community.

At Last Count tells the story of 39-year-old Paisley Ratchford, who is facing eviction from her Toronto apartment building, as it is slated to be demolished. The story moves between Ratchford’s present-day life as an introverted adult seeking legal assistance to reclaim her family homestead on rural Amherst Island, and her experience as a 13-year-old girl struggling to control life with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Dunn’s publicists said that Ratchford’s story is told with humour, sadness, and hope as she takes a shot at a future, a roof over her head, and the possibility of love.

After spending 25 years as a writer for film and television, Dunn said that writing a novel was a “completely unique experience.”

“Books and TV are very different,” she stated. “TV is ‘show, don’t tell,’ while books examine the interior of a character.”

Now, Dunn is “reverse engineering” her book back into a format for the screen. She has been awarded Canada Media Fund (CMF) Early Development funding to adapt the book into a one-hour drama for television, according to the release. 

With sharp humour and keen wisdom, Dunn taps her own experience with OCD to portray a nuanced main character in Ratchford, according to the release. 

“Although the book is completely fictional,” explained Dunn, “I wrote from the very true place of having struggled with OCD, mostly in my youth. I’ve kept that secret most of my life, except for my closest circle, so talking about it out loud, now, in my fifties, is new. I’m finding it quite freeing, actually, and I hope the book can be part of an important conversation about mental health.”

At Last Count was released through Invisible Publishing on Tuesday, Jun. 14, 2022, and will be available in the US in July. The book was selected as a Toronto Star Summer Reads pick.

Dunn’s book launch event will take place in Stella on Amherst Island from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Jul. 8, 2022. The book launch is hosted by the Amherst Island Women’s Institute at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 1955 Stella 40 Foot Road.

The free event features a special door prize of a hand-knitted pillow made from local Amherst Island sheep farm Topsy Farms yarn and created by knitter Kirk Dunn. A copy of the book will also be given away as a door prize.

Dunn will also launch her book at two other area events in July, on Wolfe Island and in Bath:

Saturday, July 16, at 11 a.m.
The Island Talks: Wolfe Island Author Reading with Claire Ross Dunn
At the Market at Wolfe Island Commons

Sunday, July 17, 1 to 3 p.m.
At Last Count reading with the author at Books on Main in Bath
368 Main Street Bath Unit 10, Bath

Learn more about Claire Ross Dunn on her website.

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