Author’s juggling act the biggest mystery

Image, left: Author Kate Jaimet. Photo by John Major

With the amount of juggling Kate Jaimet does every day, you might assume she is employed by Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey. The Old Ottawa East/Old Ottawa South resident is a freelance journalist, the mother of two young girls, and a writer currently working on her fifth novel.

Jaimet and her husband Mark, their daughters Zoey, eight, and Molly, five, live on a section of Riverdale Avenue that might be considered ‘disputed territory’ between the two Old Ottawa neighbourhoods.

“I know we get both the Mainstreeter and the OSCAR in our mailbox; essentially, the best of both worlds,” she laughed.

Image, right: The cover of Jaimet’s fourth novel Break Point.Photo by Tanis Browning-Shelp

Kate’s latest sports-adventure novel, Break Point, was officially launched in May at the Ottawa Tennis and Lawn Bowling Clubthe inspiration for its setting. Three of Kate’s books have been published as part of the “Orca Sports Series” for readers aged 10 to 16.

“Orca Book Publishers are based in Victoria, B.C.,” Jaimet said. “They publish children’s picture books, young adult fiction and, more recently, a series of mysteries for adults who are new readers. The sports series books are designed to attract less avid readers. They are fast-paced and filled with mystery and adventure.”

Jaimet worked as a journalist for the Ottawa Citizen writing daily news on Parliament Hill.

“That kind of writing is very intense,” she said. “So, in 2006, I started writing for kids as a more creative outlet. Dunces Anonymous was a comedy I wrote about a boy who forms a club for students who are being pushed by their parents to excel in things they don’t want to. I completed the manuscript and sent it out to agents and publishers. But it ended up being one of those novels sitting in a drawer.

“In 2007, I attended a writing conference in Surrey, B.C. and heard an editor from Orca give a presentation about the different series they publish and encouraging conference attendees to think about writing for them,” she added.

“I had a maternity leave coming up, but with a three-and-a-half year-old and a baby, I didn’t want to juggle all of that only to end up with another unpublished manuscript. So in February of 2008 I wrote and submitted three chapters and the plot outline of Slam Dunk, about a 16-year-old boy having to solve a mystery and coach a girls’ basketball team,” she said.

“When Orca called shortly after Molly was born in April asking to see the full manuscript, I informed my husband that I would only be able to feed the baby, write, eat and sleep for a few weeks. I wrote half the book and sent it in. Editor Sarah Harvey loved it, so I signed a contract to have the book completed by the end of June. Zoey was at a Montessori school by then and I was still on my maternity leave, so I agreed. Slam Dunk came out in the spring of 2009.

“In addition, once Slam Dunk was accepted, I told Sarah about Dunces Anonymous,” Jaimet said. “She asked me to send her the manuscript, read it and gave me a few guidelines on how to improve it. Then it also ended up getting published in 2009.

“After my maternity leave, I went back to the Citizen, this time working at the city hall bureau. But journalism was shifting along with digital media,” she explained. “Not only did I have to file a story each day, but I also had to write web hits, tweets and even provide video. My husband was doing lots of travelling with his work. We had a baby and a daughter who needed to be picked up at daycare. I was concerned about the lack of time I had to check for errors in my reporting and I was only getting a bit of fiction writing done here and there.

“In the fall of 2010 the Citizen started offering buyouts to many of its reporters. So, after working for them for 12 years, I took one. The last thing I covered was the mayoral election of Jim Watson.”

Jaimet’s juggling act continued. But with freelance work, she found a much better balance between parenting, journalism and fiction writing.

“I wrote Edge of Flight, a story about three teens rock climbing in Arkansas before going their separate ways after high school. It came out in the fall of 2012.”

Break Point, the tennis club mystery, came to Jaimet and her husband one day when they were sitting at their neighbourhood club with its 1923 clubhouse. They agreed it would make a great setting for a book.

“It is beautiful . . . and it has unusual characters, rumours and complicated shareholder issues,” Jaimet chuckled. “So my husband, who is an accountant, and I brainstormed together about the mystery plot line, which involves somebody taking over the club.”

This spring, Kate’s sequel to Dunces Anonymous was accepted for publication.

“It will be called Dunces Rock and is about a boy who wants to play electric guitar despite having a strict and conservative dad who won’t allow it.”

Jaimet remains a juggler of the different elements of her life. How she does it is the neighbourhood’s biggest mystery.




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