By: Tony Davis
Saying Orysia Dawydiak has worked closely with animals is an understatement.
She read an excerpt from a short story collection she and other female writers are working on for release next year.
â€œIt was late August 1979, in Kansas, hot and sticky,â€ Dawydiak said. â€œâ€¦my plastic encased arm lodged shoulder deep in the rectum of a cow, a torrent of sweat runs down my face, stings my eyes.â€
Three years earlier when Dawydiak began to study embryology as a graduate student, livestock artificial insemination wasnâ€™t on the radar. â€œMy main career before I retired was at the Atlantic Veterinary College as a medical technologist,â€ she said at the P.E.I. Writerâ€™s Guild open mic series at Receiver Coffee Co. in Charlottetown.
Born in Ontario, Dawydiak has lived on P.E.I. since 1986 and her career and love for animals has lead her to writing books. Dawydiak said she has been writing stories since she was a child.
â€œIâ€™ve always been torn between science and the arts.â€
Dawydiakâ€™s next book Rikaâ€™s Shepherd set in P.E.I. launches 2:00 p.m. Sept. 22 at theÂ Confederation Centre Public Library.
Rika is an energetic girl helping her father run their farm and household since her mother died. Rika takes care of a small flock of sheep. One thing which would make her job easier is a dog she could train to herd. However, things begin to unravel when a coyote attacks the flock.
It is a much different story than Dawydiakâ€™s first novel House of Bears which loosely followsÂ her family history of leaving Eastern Europe during WWII and emigrating to Canada.
â€œThe book talks about families like that and the coming of age and different relationships andÂ conflicts between people coming from a different culture and dropping into a new cultureâ€¦,â€ Dawydiak said.
Dawydiak also plans to release the third book in her â€œKira trilogyâ€ which started with Kiraâ€™sÂ Secret, a novel about a 12-year-old girl who becomes a mermaid.
Kelly Sampson was at the P.E.I. Writers Guild open mic to hear Dawydiak and other IslandÂ writers read. Sampson who teaches blueprint reading and drafting at Holland College is reading the first book in the Kira series.
â€œI am immediately involved in Kiraâ€™s story. It draws me in. I think the reader knows what herÂ secret is, but she doesnâ€™t, and I think she has a few secrets,â€ she said.
Dawydiakâ€™s new book is much different than others she has written.
â€œIt is quite reality based, and much different than the story of Kira the mermaid.â€
Dawydiak expresses herself in different styles, she said.
â€œWhen I try to express myself sometimes itâ€™s more of a journalist style, sometimes itâ€™s fantasy,Â sometimes itâ€™s poetry.â€
Keith Burgoyne thinks Dawydiakâ€™s range of style made her a great featured reader for the P.E.I. Writerâ€™s Guild open mic.
â€œOrysia has been a consistent player in the islandâ€™s literary community for years. She has held a number of positions within the PEIWG board of directors, has attended nearly every event we coordinate and has been a very active writer with numerous exciting writing projects in herÂ queue.â€
Burgoyne enjoys Dawydiakâ€™s work because of her attachment to animals which he said comes through in her writing, subtly revealing her work in animal sciences.
â€œSheâ€™s an excellent writer, and the love and respect she has for animals hooks me, draws me in, and turns those animals into people for me. I find the same allure in her writing that I see in the likes of James Herriottâ€™s.â€
When Dawydiakâ€™s writes, she uses colorful descriptions, dialogue and storytelling while weaving in some education.
â€œThatâ€™s the way people learn, they need to be intrigued and want to read moreâ€¦ I think thatâ€™sÂ what I did with the book.â€
To hear from more Island writers, the P.E.I. Writersâ€™ Guild runs every second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Receiver Coffee Co.
Confederation Centre Library
Sept. 22 at 2 pm.