Professor’s novel has roots in Victorian England


It was during her stay at one of the oldest inns in England that Sheridan College professor Joyce Wayne found the inspiration for her first novel.

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Joyce Wayne’s new novel, The Cook’s Temptation, will be released in Toronto on Feb. 4, 2014.

During the fall of 2010, she checked into a local bed and breakfast in the small village of Shebbear in Devon County called The Devil’s Stone Inn. A former farmhouse, the 17th century inn is named after a one-tonne boulder located in the village square, which locals believe was dropped from Satan’s pocket.

Now, the inn is the initial setting for Wayne’s new neo-Victorian novel, The Cook’s Temptation, about a woman who faces class, religious, and familial conflict in England during the late 1800s.

“It’s about a cook who is really an outsider in her own community,” Wayne said. “She faces a lot of perils.”

Wayne said that the idea for the central character first came to her while standing in a churchyard during her stay in Devon County.

“There was a grave of a woman named Cordelia, she died at 33, and her only child died just before her,” Wayne said. “I just took a picture of it, and I decided I was going to go back to Canada and write a novel about it, and I did. The heroine’s name is Cordelia.”

Wayne added that the purpose of her month-long trip through England was to do field research, and not simply for vacation.

“I went by myself, and I’d never travelled to Europe by myself before, but I figured no one on the whole planet was going to want to be doing this with me, because it was work,” Wayne said. “I’d get up every morning and work at it.”

Wayne added that writing a novel, which took around five years for her to complete, is something that she always wanted to do.

“I remember when I was about 19 years old, I decided I really wanted to write one,” she said. “I’d been too busy to do it, with life and working and going to school, and having kids and relationships. Then about five years ago, I decided it was time.”

Wayne said that she credits Mike Collins, Sheridan’s former vice president of Academics and Research, as being one of her first big supporters to write a book.

“He really helped me a lot in the beginning. I thought well I’m going to take a sabbatical, and I’m going to do a PHD or something, or I was going to write a non-fiction book,” she said. “And he said ‘Joyce. All your life you’ve wanted to write fiction, why don’t you do it?’ ”

Collins said that he knew Wayne through most of his career at Sheridan.

“I did encourage her, and I encouraged her because I read a couple of her short stories, and I thought that she showed huge talent,” Collins said. “And I thought it’d be good if she could expand into a larger format than just the short story format.”

“He encouraged me to do it, and to take the risk and to go for it,” Wayne added. “And once I started I knew I would. I knew I’d stick with it to the very end.”

The Cook’s Temptation is published by Mosaic Press and will be released in Toronto on Feb. 4.