Real-life stress inspires Algoma grad to write her first novel

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‘To Those Who Have Lost’ was released in July; author Quincy Lee Clark encourages others to put their feelings, ideas on paper

As if working hard to earn a university degree isn’t demanding enough, the Sault’s Quincy Lee Clark has found the time and energy to write her first novel and become a published author before her 22nd birthday.

Clark graduated from Algoma University with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in April.

She is currently teaching at Algoma and plans to begin earning her master’s degree in biology at that institution beginning in January.

While working toward getting her undergraduate degree, Clark suffered the loss of a family member and witnessed serious illness in another.

Those are two big reasons for anyone to look through a dark and gloomy lens but Clark dealt with her feelings and turned them into motivation to write her novel To Those Who Have Lost.

It was released in July.

“It was a way for me to cope with a lot of things that happened in my life in the past few years. It was my own therapy,” Clark told SooToday in a recent interview.

“I figured that this would be the best way to deal with what was going on around me. That’s why it’s called To Those Who Have Lost because there are many things people can lose in this lifetime and I wanted to let other people know they aren’t alone.”

To Those Who Have Lost follows a specially gifted woman named Moira, a villainous black market figure called Kieran and a desert guide known as Sylver.

“Moira had spent some time working in a circus,” Clark said, providing a basic outline of her book.

“She had a gift to lead people to whatever they desired. The circus ringmaster discovered she had this gift and he decided to use it for his own profit. It’s a very misogynistic society so she can’t benefit from it herself, it’s just him. She’s basically doing whatever he tells her to do, selling her to the highest bidder.” 

However, Moira decides she’s done with living in those conditions and sets out to return to her home, encountering interesting characters and places along the way. 

“I had the Middle East inspire me,” Clark said regarding the novel’s location.

“It’s not an exact representation of Saudi Arabia but I took some of the important landmarks and made them my own for the story. I love researching geography and it felt very symbolic that it would be in some place that’s so desolate, a desert, because that’s often how you feel when you’ve lost something. Almost everything in the book has some symbolism about it.”

“They’re very closely tied to people that I know,” Clark said of the book’s three main characters.

“Obviously I took a lot of creative liberty but it includes the attitudes being held by some of those around me, or by myself.”

“I exaggerated some points so it doesn’t sound lame,” she laughed.

“I had been writing since I was really young and then I got out of it for a bit, but COVID lockdowns inspired me to get back into it. I was reading so much during that time period but I still didn’t have enough to read,” Clark said.

With that, she decided to write a book of her own.

Despite the serious tone of To Those Who Have Lost, Clark said she enjoyed writing it.

“I really loved it. It came very easily to me. It was very cathartic and rewarding.”

Does the novel have a happy ending?

“It depends on your definition of happy,” Clark replied.

“I wanted to make the story so that it‘s something that everybody can relate to. It might not feel happy go lucky but that’s not how the world works. It highlights corruption, it highlights loss but it also highlights hope for a better future. Things might seem really bad right now but things can improve. If you just keep your mind fixed on what you want you will have the ability to get it.”

“It’s a fantasy romance,” Clark added.

“There’s some spice in it too. I know a lot of people like romance.”

Clark started writing To Those Who Have Lost in April 2020 and completed the first draft in four weeks.

All editing was done by September 2022 and the novel was released in July 2023. 

The book is self-published and is the first book in a planned trilogy.

Clark said she has started the second installment of her trilogy and anticipates it will be completed “in the next year or so.”

While still a first-time author, Clark has some advice for others thinking of writing a book.

“If you have an idea, even if you don’t think it’s the best one, take a shot with it because you never know what will come out when you actually start writing it. I wasn’t imagining this to be a trilogy but when I started writing and the words started flowing out I thought this clearly has to become a trilogy. If you’re passionate about something don’t let the money factor, or whatever it is, stop you. If there’s something you want to write that you think would make you feel some happiness, just do it anyway, for yourself.”

To Those Who Have Lost is available through Amazon and Clark’s website.

She said she hopes to see the novel in bookstores in the future.

“I’m pretty impressed with the amount of sales I’ve had but anybody that reads it and likes it, if they leave reviews I would love that and be super appreciative. You can’t get enough reviews when you’re trying to get started as an author.”

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