ESTEVAN — Corinne, also known as H.C. Hewitt in the world of books, is the author of the Abbington Pickets series. She was at the Estevan Public Library last Wednesday to visit with young and adult readers.
Her day in the Energy City started with a kids' book reading in the afternoon. Hewitt, who's been writing and publishing since 2015, said she always wanted to create a book for a younger audience. And as she was working on an adult series, she decided to take her characters and adapt them for a different audience, and that's how Papa's Chair was born in 2021.
"Papa's chair is actually the chair that Jacob built for his kids over Christmas when he came back from the war, so that is in the third book [of the Abbington Pickets series]," Hewitt noted. "He also built Abigail a little box in the first book, and I brought the box with me as well."
The book teaches kids a bit about the past and the ways people used to live and do things. Hewitt also has a colouring book with the same characters.
Later on Wednesday, Hewitt met with adult readers. For this presentation, she brought over her collection of antiques, some of which appear and are being used in her books. She also showed the guests how to make butter the old-fashioned way, and everyone had a chance to try it at the end.
"I always like to try to do something that's fun that they did way back then," Hewitt explained. "And Jacob is a carpenter, and that's what I brought to show the adults. I collect antique carpentry tools."
The Abbington Pickets series includes Jacob of Abbington Pickets, Jacob's Place, Letters from Jacob and Jacob's Secret, and is also complemented by Bible Study Companion for Jacob of Abbington Pickets and the Abbington Pickets Cookbook. The story starts in 1898 and carries on to 1906 and then through to 1920. Her latest book, Jacob's Secret, was published last December.
The story, being developed in the books, was inspired by Hewitt's childhood in Saskatchewan. She was born and raised "on the edge of the Moose Mountains northwest of Manor.
"The Abbington Pickets series takes place in southeastern Saskatchewan … I grew up just a little way from Cannington Manor. My grandma worked there as a guide for 18 years. She dressed up and she got me dressed up. I would go there [with her] and learn the history," Hewitt recalled.
"I always wanted to write a book about it. It's not about the people of Cannington Manor. That's my place. I changed it to Abbington Pickets, and I changed the characters. There are a few truths to some little bits here and there, some of the facts that have happened in that time frame."
The plot of the series comes from Hewitt's imagination, but she used some historical episodes, such as an "unbelievable" blizzard that went through the area or some myths she heard as a child. She also used some of the real buildings she's seen and explored in Cannington Manor.
"If you lived in the Cannington Manor area ... you would be like 'Ah, yes, I know that place,'" Hewitt noted.
While she is currently working on a book outside the series, she plans to continue with the Abbington Pickets series.
"I'm working on researching a book about my great great-grandfather, who came over from England with his family of five children and his wife, and he wrote a diary about their adventure from there to here. So, I've got to piece it together from the beginning and make an ending. He had quite a life," Hewitt shared.
"And I'm also trying to get the fifth book in the series, which may be a Christmas book, but I'm not 100 per cent sure. I don't know if that'll come like I thought this year, but we'll see. That's my hope. I always put big goals."
Hewitt has also always loved quilting and has been designing quilt patterns for a long time. Until not that long ago, her family lived in Alberta where for 12 years she owned a quilt shop. When she started writing, she also started designing relevant quilt patterns and said she has about 15 patterns that pertain to her books.
After returning to Saskatchewan in 2021, Hewitt's husband joined her father and their son in farming, and she said now it's sometimes hard to find spare time for writing or quilting, yet she keeps going.
She still sells quilt patterns, which along with novels are available online through her website www.hchewittauthor.com. Books also can be found on marketplaces and in online bookstores.