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"After teaching for many years, I realized that if I was ever going to write a novel, I had better get started. Egging me on was the new Chapters competition for debut novels. The prize was publication by McClelland and Stewart, which would solve the problem of what to do with my book once it was finished. I wrote on weekends, evenings, and during my holidays, barely coming up for air. I mailed off my first chapters and was one of the fifty writers chosen to submit complete books. My novel Bracelet of Bright Hair was one of the five books short-listed out of the 400 unpublished novels submitted in 2000, and excerpts were subsequently published in The New Quarterly: New Directions in Canadian Writing. Encouraged, I decided to write a second novel that would make it to the very top. Two years later, the Chapters/Robertson Davies competition had evaporated, and I was only part-way into Conceit. Juggling my writing and day job, my energy flagging, I knew I needed support to keep going. I signed up for a mentorship program with Thomas Wharton, and met June Hutton and Jen Sookfong Lee, who were also working on novels. We hit it off and kept on workshopping after the four-month course was over. We gave ourselves the name SPiN, vowing to stay together until our books were completed."