Catalina resident writes first novel about family, romance

Donna Cormier.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

Inspired by a reoccurring dream, Catalina resident Donna Cormier followed her instincts, which led to her having her first novel published.

Cormier, who writes under the pen name D.J. Irwin to pay homage to her father who died when she was two, had “Just a Little Miracle” published in October of last year. Since then, she has already begun to work on a follow-up novel.

The book, which she said parallels the writing style of Luanne Rice, is a love story and a family relation book combined.

“It’s about a widowed woman who has four young sons and she moves her children to Phoenix to take a job after she meets a gentleman who offers her a job there,” Cormier said. “It’s mostly about the family – how the boys adjust.”

Getting out of Tucson for the summers, Cormier and her husband spend the hot months in Show Low, which is in the White Mountains northeast of Phoenix. 

While there, she continued to have a dream night after night about the same topic.  She began to take notes and remember parts of the dream, and elaborate on them throughout her days. 

The book in her head began to come out.

Through teaching herself how to use the computer, and understanding the technical side of writing a book these days, Cormier persevered. She would write notes down all of the time, and even get up on the middle of the night to scribble down her thoughts.

“It was all in my head, it just kept coming out,” she said. “I worked sometimes eight hours a day, I would sit at my typewriter, I wouldn’t eat. My husband would have to remind me to stop to eat.”

Her only formal training was a class she took in community college. She retired from a career of working at grocery stores as a cashier and later working in the meat department.

“When I was a child, I would make up stories and write most of them down,” she said about her inner calling to write. “My mother told me to get my head out of the clouds.”

In high school, her grammar teacher strongly encouraged her to take a writing course at the community college. The teacher’s encouragement was so strong that she offered to pay for her to take the class.

Cormier’s mother ended up paying for her to take the class, but she kept in touch with her grammar teacher for years afterwards. 

“She and I clicked,” Cormier said. “There are some teachers that you really click with, and she and I clicked.”

The book can be found on both and The book is about $8 for the softcover and about $4 for an electronic version.

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