She believes she’s achieved all that in “The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes.”
While the contemporary fiction novel published by Breakwater Books Ltd., her first, is set in St. John’s where she now lives, it’s a long way from where she grew up in Highlands in Bay St. George South.
Canning graduated from secondary school in Bay St. George South and has been living away since 1992, first going to St. John’s and completing her Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in English and minors in Women’s Studies and History from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1997.
She then spent some time teaching in Ontario and five years in Taiwan.
Canning returned to Newfoundland in 2008 and by August the following year had completed her Bachelor of Education Degree in Intermediate/Secondary Education at Memorial, then taught school in Forteau, Labrador; Burin and Clarenville before returning to St. John’s once again.
She continued to improve her education, gaining a Master of Literacy Education degree at Mount St. Vincent University in 2014 and is currently working on her Master of English Literature in Creative Writing at Memorial University, which involves doing a short story collection.
Canning is a temporary instructor with College of the North Atlantic in St. John’s since 2010 and previously taught high school from 2003.
She has wanted to write a book since she was in Grade 2 and is happy now that her first one has been published. All of her writings have been fiction.
The character in her book, Wanda Jaynes, is about to lose her job amidst a mountain of bills, and she suspects her musician boyfriend might be romantically interested in her friend, Trish. But Wanda’s life changes radically on a routine trip to the grocery store when a gunman enters the supermarket and opens fire. When Wanda comes face to face with the shooter, she instinctively hurls a can of coconut milk at his head and knocks him unconscious.
Canning said Jaynes becomes an unlikely hero and is at a stage in her life when she’s feeling quite disillusioned.
“She someone who didn’t seem like she’d be doing something heroic,” she said.
Canning said the book’s about whether you can face your worst fears and survive.
Her past writings have won the Cox and Palmer SPARKS Creative Writing Award, the BC Federation of Writers Literary Writes competition, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters awards and has been shortlisted for the Cuffer Prize.
The book received an honourable mention with The H. R (Bill) Percy Novel Prize in 2015 under the title “Impulse.” She was selected as one of the 2015 apprentices with the Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Mentorship Program.
While she drew on her experiences and that of others to come up with the Wanda Jaynes character, she has another manuscript she hopes to publish someday drawing on her experiences growing up in Highlands.