First novel serendipitous for Albernian

Alberni author writes what she knows in tea tale.

Author Michelle VanNice shares a cup of tea with a guest while discussing her first novel

The writing of Michelle VanNice’s first novel, SerendipiTEA, could be called a serendipitous meeting of some of her best dreams.

VanNice—her pen name is Thelma—grew up in Vanderhoof, B.C., and spent summers on her grandparents’ Century Farm in Sheridan, Ore. She once worked as a proofreader at the Nechako Chronicle, and spent 12 years teaching adult students at the College of New Caledonia Prince George campus.

Now an English teacher in Port Alberni, VanNice has always dreamed of writing a book about stories. After taking an aboriginal storytelling course, she set about creating her own reality.

“Through telling stories we can get to know each other. Even if those stories aren’t about yourself,” she said.

What goes hand in hand with reading a good book but a steaming cup of tea? And that is another of VanNice’s passions. A bit of a purest, she prefers boiling fresh water and pouring it over loose leaf tea.

“I love tea too. It’s a mysterious, exotic, crazy drink,” she said.

Tea is a focal point in SerendipiTEA, set in the fictitious town of Wolfton. Most of the action takes place in the tea house as well as the bookstore next door, Dragonfly Tales.

The book starts out slowly, something VanNice is quick to point out herself. However, there is a rhythm to it, and once you catch on the story wends its way nicely from chapter to chapter. The lives of Wolfton’s characters are revealed bit by bit as they meet at a tea house/ bookstore for weekly storytelling classes.

VanNice is adept at mixing eclectic pairings of people in her tale. “I always noticed in small towns there’s such a variety of people…and we’re all just at the co-op buying our milk,” she said. “You just got together and did things because you had to.”

Some of the characters are loosely based on people in VanNice’s life, and a couple of her own tales have made it into the book, albeit disguised.

Readers with an appreciation for tea will love the sections where VanNice writes about the history of certain teas, and how they are made. A favourite part for me was her description of a blooming art tea—both how teas with names like Dragon Lily and Tiffany Rose Melody are assembled, and the process they undergo as they unfurl in a teapot or teacup.

VanNice accomplishes her storytelling goal by having each character’s story published in the Wolfton Howler newspaper.

VanNice is selling her books at the Harbour Quay Farmer’s Market, sharing a table with Angie and Gord Blake of Harbour Quay Teas—an appropriate pairing.

VanNice is also working on her second novel, and promises some of the characters from Serendipitea will appear.

“I can’t seem to help myself,” she said. “I miss my ‘people’.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Port Alberni to host World Juniors action

Team Kazakhstan will play exhibition games in Port Alberni

Hometown victory for Alberni Valley Midget Bulldogs

Annual Remembrance Day tournament drew 12 competing teams

Learn about solar panels with Alberni Valley Transition Towns

Monthly meeting will feature a talk from a solar panel expert

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases in B.C.

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Jim’s Clothes Closet celebrates 50th anniversary

Store began in Port Alberni, expanded on Vancouver Island and beyond

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Kuhnhackl scores 2 odd goals as Isles dump Canucks 5-2

Vancouver drops second game in two nights

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Student arrested at Vancouver Island elementary school

Pupils never in danger, incident unrelated to the school

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Most Read