Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Ever feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? Last winter was the worst my city had experienced in almost 100 years, and this summer is probably going to set a record for rainfall. Some nearby towns and cities have declared a state of emergency, and one of my favourite restaurants had to temporarily shut down because they didn’t have power.

In times like this, it can be easy to forget all the good things about living here. But there are a few, and here’s my list of things I will miss about living here, in no particular order.

1) The people. Originally I planned to live here for two years. The reason I’ve stayed so long can be summed up in one word–people. While this can be a difficult city to break into–most locals have lived here forever–once you’re in, you’re in. I’ve made such incredible friends over the years, and I’ve finally gotten to a place where everyone in my life is amazing. Gone are the bad friends and romantic disasters of my youth.

2) Steady work. The work is another reason I’ve stayed as long as I have. Being a freelancer can be scary, but most editors here know my name and are familiar with my work. I usually have more work than I can handle, and if I ever have a slow time, it’s only a matter of making a few calls or sending some emails. I never take this for granted–I know I am very, very lucky not to have to struggle.

3) Sense of community. I was raised in a small town where I knew almost everyone. Moving to a city where I knew no one was pretty scary. But now I bump into at least one person I know every time I leave the house. It’s taken me years to stop feeling like a newbie, and it feels good to know that if I’m ever in trouble, this city has my back.

4) Supporting cast. It takes time and effort to cultivate a great support system. I have an amazing

My fight camp at Kwest Kickboxing

doctor. A wonderful muay thai club with a reliable coach and friendly fellow fighters. A hair dresser who has become my friend over the years. The best drywaller ever. A great accountant. Kick ass references, should I ever need them. The awesome banking manager at my credit union, who is always available with suggestions and advice. Having to start over again from scratch will be more than a little daunting.

5)  Familiarity. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but I like knowing how to garden in this city–what will grow, and how to grow it. I like being able to try out a new recipe, and finding everything I need at the local store (well, most of the time). I like knowing the difference between the neighbourhoods, and having a basic understanding of each bus route. When we move to an island, cooking North American recipes will be impractical, if not impossible, which means my treasured collection of cookbooks will be completely useless. Gardening will be vastly different–I’ve heard moving to Palau may mean giving up strawberries–I can’t even imagine that. When it comes to food on a remote island, what’s available is what’s in season, period. While it’s a better way to live and eat, I’m sure it’s going to be a huge adjustment.

6) The arts scene. This city has an incredible amount of cultural experiences available–from a top-flight symphony and ballet to great concerts, festivals, art galleries, museums, and live theatre. There is always something to do here, and you usually don’t have to look that hard to find it. If you love the arts, this isn’t a bad place to live. While the close-knit community of an island will certainly have a distinctive arts scene, most likely including local artisans and traditional music and dance, it won’t be on anywhere near the same scale. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to take advantage of the great arts and culture this city has to offer.

7) The restaurants. Feel like sushi? How about Thai? Or pizza, samosas, gyros, Vietnamese noodle bowls, dim sum and traditional British pub grub? It’s all here and then some. Every cuisine in the world is represented by at least one restaurant, if not ten. Before I moved here, I had no idea that I loved doro tibs, an Ethiopian chicken dish, or Japanese crepes stuffed with fruit, or saganaki–a Greek dish that is basically a pool of melted cheese. Moving to an island will give me the opportunity to try a whole new cuisine, but I’m sure I’ll eventually miss the great variety available in this city. However, I will not miss the ubiquitous coffee-and-donut chains that seem to be on every corner, or the fast food places. I can do without both.

If you were to move tomorrow, what would you miss?

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  1. Frank Powers

    If I moved tomorrow, the only thing I’d miss would be the people. As a navy brat, moving isn’t a big deal to me. I’m not attached to the place I live, just the people who live there. Even though I am rather well known for being set in my ways, I can be set in my ways anywhere. Well, anywhere in the US. Not sure I could pull off a remote island life.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      It’s really the people that make a place, isn’t it? So many times I’ve heard someone who’s never even been here put it down, but people who do move here end up not leaving or staying here a long time.

      Thanks for commenting, Frank! I bet you’ve lived in some interesting places.

  2. V Y-C

    I’d miss family, friends, and the variety of ethnic restaurants. Oh yes also women’s tackle football ��

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Welcome back, V! I’ve missed you. Other than tackle football, our list is very similar. <3 No family here to speak of, though.

  3. Stephanie Faris

    One word for you: Elance. Oh, wait…another word: Freelancewritinggigs.com. I have only worked with one local company in three years of freelance writing and I have more work than I can handle at times. That’s the best thing about being a freelancer–you can work from anywhere. I wish I could work from the beach…although I have a pond behind my house and I never work outside because the sun makes it hard to see my laptop!

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for the tip, Stephanie! I’ll definitely check them out. They’re legit, then?

      I have worked outside–my laptop is anti-glare–but my neighbours are horrible. Always a distraction around here.

  4. VR Barkowski

    I haven’t lived here very long and really don’t know anyone, so I can’t say it’s the people, although everyone is very friendly here. I would definitely miss all the things that make this small city unique: its social and literary history, its beautiful harbor, the excellent fine art museum, the libraries (both public and private), the fact there’s ALWAYS something happening, and of course the insanity that is Halloween in the The Witch City.

    VR Barkowski

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Welcome back, VR! I’ve missed you–thanks so much for commenting.

      I assume you live in Salem? How cool! I imagine there must be a ton of history there. I’d love to hear more about what happens on Halloween. Have you ever blogged about it? Feel free to link here.

  5. Helene Massicotte

    I would miss (and have missed, since I moved and subsequently returned):
    the tree canopies that form an archway on countless neighbourhood streets, Assiniboine Park and biking on Wellington Crescent, Lake Winnipeg, the amazing library system, the accessibility of the arts, the huge prairie sky, Corydon Avenue on a hot summer night, The Forks river walk, Osborne Village restaurants, The new airport (it really rocks!) and, yes, definitely the people. Winnipeg is a city that can feel like a village more often than not because we’re still small enough to care.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Welcome back to the blog, Helene! I’ve missed your comments. This is a wonderful list–all things that are definitely worth missing.

      I think it’s easy to take the place one currently lives for granted, especially when the weather is disappointing. It never hurts to step back and remember all the things we love.

      I hope we do get some hot summer nights to spend on Corydon. I’m praying for good weather for the Folk Fest.


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