On June 30, Calgary author Brenda Joyce Leahy launched her debut novel, The Art of Rebellion, to an enthusiastic gathering of 90 people. Since then, the book has spent four weeks on Calgary bestseller lists with the likes of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling and The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah.
With the help of several friends, Brenda brought the book’s setting of 1900 Paris to life for her launch. A Parisian cafe-style sign and awning welcomed guests and highlighted the entry table displaying her books. Miniature Eiffel Towers and flower bouquets constructed from book pages decorated the room, café-style aprons depicting the book cover were worn, and a variety of sumptuous apéritifs created by her son Luc, were served.
“The wise saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” Brenda says, “but when it comes to launching a book, I believe this also applies.”
The idea for Brenda’s book was sparked by the life of her grandmother, Carmen Gabrielle Sala Morton, who died before she was born. Although the novel’s heroine, Gabbi, and her journey are fictional, Brenda says that her strength of character, sense of purpose, and independent nature were inspired by stories about her grandmother. Like Gabbi, Carmen grew up in Laval, France and had to fend off suitors chosen by her mother from the impoverished nobility.
The Art of Rebellion may be directed toward a young adult audience, but it seems to captivate people of all ages. Bloggers and Goodreads reviewers have responded favourably. Early drafts were reviewed by award winning author, Tim Wynn-Jones, who wrote, “I came to love the central character, a dedicated painter in a world not quite ready to accept women artists, a naïf at risk of being swept up by the demimonde of fin-de-siècle Paris, but determined to make her way and leave her mark.”
Angela Ackerman, bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and a variety of other tools for writers offered accolades too. “Brenda … does a brilliant job of drawing readers into a textured, authentic world of art and culture during a time when women chafing under the dominance of men in society fought for change, fairness, and freedom.”
Since her launch, Brenda continues to bring a taste of Paris to book signings.
Thank you, Brenda, for bringing this delicious, captivating novel to Rebelight Publishing. And congratulations on your hard work in bringing this book baby to life!
To learn more about Brenda, her work and Paris in the days of The Art of Rebellion's heroine, Gabrielle, visit Brenda's website.
Photos courtesy of Brenda Joyce Leahy and her friends on Facebook.