Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Readers Write: The Author and the Book

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Readers Write: The Author and the Book

Author and Open Book reader Trisha Smith writes about the events that led her to writing her book, Holiday in Hell (Asteroid Publishing, 2009).

The love of writing, teaching and the arts gladdens my heart, today. My inquisitiveness took me into ecology research, interviews, writing and the arts: sculpting, stained-glass, oil-painting and illustrating educational publications and books. And then in 1999, I entered the New Year brutally injured and emotionally traumatized. And even more terrifying, there was no law in Cuba or in Canada to charge the Canadian perpetrator for assaulting me in Cuba! I became the subject of 14 tabloid articles (in publications such as The Star and The Globe and Mail) and CITY-TV Reports.

Distressed, as justice became quite illusive and my life more like a movie, I decided to journalize the events. Suspense claimed every bit of my waking hours as I tried to understand the laws of the Canadian Justice System. Writing journal entries made sense to me. It was a way to validate my humanity and clarify why the largeness of these unusual events occurred in my life. And even though some events led to some sort of justice, more drama crept into my already devastated and shattered life.

My spirit as a writer kept me empowered to obtain justice and nothing could take this passion away. I survived by recording the pages of my journal, completely unaware that the scribbled writing would become the book, Holiday in Hell. Then, one hot summer in the wilderness of the Kawarthas, I knew that I was to write the manuscript, and I began at a place that is now the first page of the epilogue.

As I explore my ordeal, not as a subject, but as a writer, I also am resolute to perform a delicate balance. The last thing I would expect is to come across as a victim. Nor do I desire to negate and forget the support of everyone who has encouraged me along the way. Especially, I do not want to dismiss those who have implored me to tell my story.
Sometimes my mind drifts, and I ponder the wisdom of my decision.

I could just put the pen down and let others contend with the “complicated” legal cases. But would that be the just thing to do when the news broadcasts similar chronic crimes, which cannot be charged in Canada? With my understanding of all that I suffered and learned, could I live with myself by remaining still and letting others deal with unresolved justice? Or should I hand in my bag of documentation and newspaper clippings to someone else?

Then I wake up, as if from a bad dream, and ask: Who else could chronicle my narrative with the necessary intensity and passion? My resolution is not to remain silent and bury the truth about the inadequacy of the Canadian Criminal Code. Otherwise I would neglect my responsibility as a free and a proud Canadian.

The day before I handed in the literary non-fiction, Holiday in Hell, for publishing, I requested that my wonderful publisher, Asteroid Publishing Inc., insert the addresses to The Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Justice so that if the readers agree with my conclusions in the book, they can write petition letters. When Holiday in Hell prompts another round of petitions, this time Canadians will be heard!

I was very impressed not only with the telling of this tragic experience but equally the recounting of the legal dilemma that you and your supporters have faced in seeking justice through the Canadian legal system. Holiday in Hell is a book that could be usefully read not only by those of us who travel beyond the borders of Canada but equally those in the legal profession and those in Ottawa who are responsible for our laws and their application. Your story is a compelling one and one that needs re-enforcement as often as possible.
-- Gar Pardy, Former Canadian Ambassador

Holiday in Hell challenges Canadian basic assumptions of “justice” should raise our awareness of the huge gap in our criminal justice system, should stroke our ire as to how a victim is treated upon return to Canada, and should sound a cautionary alarm when monstrous attackers escape criminal prosecution.
-- D. Todd Morganstein BA, LLB

Trisha Smith's compelling story is one of a human being who, through determination and a relentless will, emerges scarred but victorious despite a horrible tragedy. Her story should inspire every Canadian.
-- Donovan Vincent, The Star

Holiday in Hell is a must read book for all Canadians travelling internationally.
-- Bernice Lever - Canadian Author of a dozen books:

Holiday in Hell is available at:
Amazon - hardcover, eBook, Mobipocket
Indigo – Yorkdale and soon in most Indigo stores
McNally Robinson Book Sellers in Toronto
Audreys Book Stores in Edmonton
Further Contact Trisha Smith at for Speaking Engagements
Book website: Guest Book for comments

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