Edmonton-based writer Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail is about to embark on the literary adventure of a lifetime: A three-month stay at Berton House, Pierre Berton’s childhood home in Dawson City, Yukon.

You’ve been chosen as one of four Canadian professional writers to live in Pierre Berton’s home in Dawson City. Can you tell me your thoughts?

I was really excited. I was still living in Wyoming when I applied for this retreat and I really didn’t think I had a chance because at the time I just had my first book published and was still relatively new and still an emerging writer. This year I’m the only one from Western Canada. The rest are from Eastern and Central Canada so I’m going to try and make Alberta proud.

What are you going to be doing up there for three months?

I’m almost done a novel that I’ll be finishing up while I’m at the Berton House and I’m going to be researching the history of aviation of the North. We’ll get three books by 30, hopefully, and then from there I would love to get a little shack on the sunshine coast of B.C., somewhere eventually where I’ll get to write forever.

What is your novel called and what is it about?

Chasing Skies is about a female bush pilot in the 1930s who goes to fly for the Air Transport Auxiliary in England during World War Two and those are stories that haven’t really been told. It’s based on history but it’s all fictionalized. I have 150 pages of the novel done and I’m guessing it’s going to be about 200-250 pages so I just have to really put my nose to the grind.

Other than planes and aviation, what other issues do you incorporate in your stories?

The main subject is planes, but I’m able to bring in all my other interests like the history of First Nations and the issues of the history of women. So I think the common denominator is history. Creative writing was my first passion but everything just seems to be kind of moving forward together and my different interests are just melding.

Other than finishing three books by 30, what other goals do you have?

It would be absolutely incredible if my books ended up in universities one day and people were studying my stuff. I just have to keep my fingers crossed and keep working.

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