While pursuing a journalism diploma through a community college, I had the good fortune of attending an information session led by an Athabasca University representative. She discussed the opportunity to complete a degree through distance learning. Yet though the presentation piqued my interest, I had no intention of furthering my education at that time.
Upon finishing school, I started a career in publications and worked on a historical novel I’d set out to write several years earlier.
Soon, however, I felt a tug in another direction. Although I would not stop chasing my dream to become a published author, I realized the office job I currently held was not for me. A career as a high school teacher beckoned.
But teacher’s college required a degree.
Did I want to quit my job and lose my income to attend university? Not especially.
I remembered the Athabasca University presentation, which opened up a world of possibilities.
Distance learning would fit perfectly into my life.
I enrolled immediately and took a part-time job working with high school students with special needs.
In 2008, I completed a Bachelor of Professional Arts in Communication with a minor in English. I benefited immensely from the creative writing courses AU offered. It is my wish to instruct one of those very courses someday.
Following my time at AU, I went on to graduate from teacher’s college with a Master’s Degree and finish the first novel in my Siege of Malta trilogy, set in sixteenth-century Europe. Eight Pointed Cross was published in 2011.
Incredibly, nine years after publication, Eight Pointed Cross hit number one on Amazon’s bestseller list in April 2020.
As a show of gratitude, I am donating all proceeds from this surge to Conquer Covid-19 charities.
The sequel, Falcon’s Shadow, launched on June 16 and ranked number one within six hours of its release.
The third, yet-untitled novel is set for publication in 2021.
The path to becoming a published author was an arduous one—filled with self-doubt and several unanswered letters to Oprah but also tremendous experiences and human connection. As part of my research, I took up archery and ended up becoming a certified instructor. Throughout the writing process, I travelled extensively across six continents, where I was able to immerse in history, culture, and nature. My husband, Brad, and I challenge ourselves to tackle extreme sports, like surfing, snowboarding, scuba-diving, climbing, and sky-diving, also incredible sources of inspiration.
AU was instrumental in helping me manifest the kind of reality that feels like a dream—distance education allowed me to continue working on the other things that mattered most to me. It helped hone my time-management skills. It further cultivated and nurtured my communication skills. And taught me to navigate the online world in a way that has proven hugely beneficial for marketing my books.
A former kickboxing instructor, I also teach high school English and history. I cannot speak highly enough about AU. I recommend it to my graduating students.
Marthese Fenech is the number one bestselling author of epic historical novels set in sixteenth-century Malta and Istanbul. Research has taken her to the ancient streets her characters roamed, the fortresses they defended, the seas they sailed, and the dungeons they escaped.
Marthese has a Master’s degree in Education and currently teaches high school English. She speaks fluent Maltese and French and knows how to ask where the bathroom is in Spanish and Italian. She took up archery and wound up accidentally becoming a licenced coach. A former kickboxing instructor, she surfs, snowboards, scuba-dives, climbs, skydives, throws axes, and practices yoga—which may sometimes include goats or puppies. She lives north of Toronto with her brilliant, mathematically-inclined husband and brilliant, musically-inclined dog, known to lead family howl sessions on occasion.
To learn more about Marthese and her novels, you can visit her website.