Pam Royl has thrived on creativity her whole life, embracing visual art, ceramic art, and her latest passion of creative writing. Graduating from The Schulich School of Business, she began a long career in marketing and advertising working for international marketing companies and advertising agencies, as well as in a leadership position at George Brown College. In 2003, she retired from full time employment, started a consulting firm, and began pursuing her writing interests.
Pam was inspired to write her debut novel by an ancestor she discovered while writing family memoirs. Developing her fiction writing skills through courses at the University of Toronto, and the mentorship of International award-winning author, Donna Morrissey, Pam set her story within the fascinating history of Northumberland County where she lives with her husband Ian.
Several years ago, I wrote and published a memoir for my mother-in-law as a gift for her 95th birthday. She lived to be almost one hundred years old, and I was deeply honoured to have captured her stories, often in her own words.
It was during the investigation into my mother-in-law's ancestry that I became intrigued by her Grannie Sarah. The facts about Sarah were scarce but they sparked my creative imagination—in fact, she wouldn’t leave me alone, almost as if she were pestering me to get to know her.
What intrigued me was that Sarah lived during the Victorian Era when women were viewed as inferior in intellect, unable to do anything beyond the duties of wife and mother. Yet the few stories about Sarah gave me the impression of a strong determined woman who never seemed to be limited by her subordinate role to men, nor did she shy away from going after what she wanted. When her first husband died, falling off the roof at a barn raising, Sarah, a pregnant mother of five sons found a way to survive against impossible odds.
In reality, it was a time of incredible oppression of women, as exemplified by the brutal corset worn by the ladies of the day. Much of the class structure in England was imported into the cities and even the small towns of Canada, long before it became a country.
Women were mostly regarded as having a fragile constitution best suited to being a wife and mother, not suited to an ambition of her own making. A woman had a muted voice with no rights over anything—her own body, her own children, her own property, or any right to vote.
I believe it is because we all keep secrets. No matter how much we profess to be completely transparent with those we love, there is always something we keep to ourselves.
Because sometimes a white lie is better than the black truth. Therein lies an intriguing area for compelling fiction—What happens when the truth is revealed?
The Last Secret explores the insidious nature of secrets and tells the story about how one woman survived after learning the truth.