CANTON — Town resident Margaret A. Hockett held a book signing at Brewer Bookstore on Saturday afternoon to promote her first novel, “Taking Hart.”
“I didn’t know what to expect. This is my first signing,” she said.
Several small groups gathered during the two-hour signing to hear Mrs. Hockett read excerpts from the novel, a modern thriller in which a teenager tries to uncover dangerous secrets from the War of 1812.
Debra L. Thornton, a former classmate of Mrs. Hockett, came from Toronto for the event.
“We went to school together,” she said. “Margaret was always smart, artistic and creative.
Mrs. Hockett grew up in Edwards. She moved in 1984 to California, where she spent much of her career as an editor for the Critical Thinking Co., a publishing company that produces educational books and software. She returned to the north country in 2006, and now lives in Canton.
It was after returning to the area that she first had the idea for “Taking Hart,” incorporating local history into an exciting story.
“I was looking at the fictional standpoint, which was kind of exciting. Then I saw all of the historical strands that I could weave in,” she said.
She worked with a historian to make sure the stories from 1812 were historically accurate.
The book, written under the pseudonym M.A. Noble, is set in a fictional small town in the Thousand Islands, founded by privateers after the War of 1812. The story is filled with references to people and places in the north country, both modern and historic, real and fictional.
“People like to read about things they know about,” Mrs. Hockett said.
Rather than working with a traditional publisher, Mrs. Hockett decided to self-publish the novel, producing it more quickly and releasing it in time for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
The ebook became available on Amazon.com and elsewhere over the summer, and Mrs. Hockett is working through North Country Books Inc. to distribute the novel to local bookstores.
While her editing experience made self-publishing doable, Mrs. Hockett said, she needs to learn a lot about promotion and marketing before she can fully succeed as an author without a traditional publisher. This book signing was one of the first steps.
“I feel like I’m not doing nearly enough,” she said.
She recently wrote and self-published a book based on her father’s memories of growing up in St. Lawrence County during the 20th century, and is already at work on the sequel to “Taking Hart.”