The Author Spotlight Series shines a light on writers creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their books and why they do what they do.
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“Raeann Brown is a Nunsatsiavut Inuk who lives with her family in Wabush, NL, where she owns her own business, Inuky Glass Art & Engraving. Born in Montreal, QC, and having grown up in Postville, NL, Brown was inspired by her culture from an early age and has been creating art for as long as she can remember. Today, Brown etches and engraves a wide range of glass, wood, acrylic, bone, and metal materials. Brown is an advocate of Indigenous issues and often creates and writes about past and present events that affect Indigenous peoples across Canada. Bedtime in Nunatsiavut, out April 26th, is her first book”.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember I have been writing. Poetry was my first outlet. I suffered the loss of a parent and two of my grandparents within the span of about a year when I was between 9 and 10. Those losses really impacted me and the way I coped was by writing, every feeling. A few years ago my Mother moved from our family home, and she found journals that were jam packed with all of the poems I had written over the years. Each one holds a memory for me. I don’t know that I had ever aspired to be a writer, I just became one.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
Not particularly but it was for a certain a poem.
How did you develop your skills?
I am a self taught writer, but I do believe I owe a lot of appreciation to my 9th grade English teacher. She was the first to really hone in on me and my writing, she really encouraged me to continue writing and challenging myself even after I left her class. She was the first person to say to me “someday you will write a book.” She was also one of the first people I told when I did.
Who are some of your biggest literary influences? Do you have a favourite book/author?
Robert Frost has always influenced me. I was drawn to his poems that involved nature, as in my Indigenous culture, we believe we are as connected to nature as we are our own Mother, that resonated with me at a very young age. Robert Munche is my favorite children’s author, his book A Promise Is a Promise was the first book I ever remember reading and seeing a familiar Inuit child among the pages, it was wild to me back then. His books are first choice bedtime stories in my home as my children grow up.
How would you describe your work?
Emotional. My Children’s book Bedtime In Nunatsiavut is filled with affection and the endless possibilities of childhood dreams because those are the feelings I had as a child and the ones I hope for my children to have , while my personal poems differ depending on the circumstance of my life and those around me. As an empath I often find myself engulfed in happiness or sadness. Writing is the only way I know how to fully express and expel those emotions, so I can comfortably carry them. Last year with the first unearthing of Indigenous children on a residential school ground in Kamloops BC, I wrote a poem called Two Hundred and Fifteen Seeds, as a way to honor them, as well as express my emotions and utter sadness. So I think that is why I would describe my work as emotional.
What’s your writing process like?
When I have the urge to write, it has to be pen to paper. I will let my thoughts go free and find I usually come up with my best writing on a whim. I cannot bring myself to write for the sake of writing, it has always been spontaneous or when a certain emotion is aroused.
Tell us about your most recent book.
My first published book is a children’s book called Bedtime In Nunatsiavut. It is a story about a little Indigenous girl who transforms into a different animal every night and explores all the Inuit communities in Nunatsiavut with the help of her Mother’s Kunik (Inuit Kiss). This book is near and dear to my heart, it includes all the places I spent my time as a child, including my hometown Postville. I had my long time friend contribute to the parent guide in the back of the book, as well as a well known Inuk Elder and Translator add the Inuktitut translations. Arsenal Pulp Press has certainly kept this book true to me and my vision, the end result has been phenomenal and I can’t thank them enough. Just knowing a little girl or boy from my small place in the world may open the book and see themselves in the pages as I did with Robert Munch’s A Promise Is A Promise, makes me so incredibly excited and proud.
What are you working on now/next?
Currently, I am awaiting the release of Bedtime In Nunatsiavut and working on my business Inuky Glass Art & Engraving Inc. We have just expanded and opened another new store, while working on a new manuscript for perhaps another children’s book as well as possibly a book of the poems I’ve kept hidden for so long.