When you ask Dr. Dohaney, a professor who spent over 20 years teaching at the University of New Brunswick, who she aspired to be like when she grew up, without hesitation, she will say, ‘Lois Lane’. Ms. Lane was a fictional character who appeared in Superman Comics and was an award-winning journalist for the Metropolis Newspaper, The Daily Planet. As a young girl, Dr. Dohaney looked forward to receiving weekly comics sent to her by her Aunt, a housekeeper in The Newfoundland Hotel in St. John’s. This aunt collected these newspapers and sent them to her family. Newspapers were a rarity in the village.
Growing up in a remote village was challenging in other ways. For instance, she said she had to move to another small town four miles away to complete high school. This school was run by the Presentation Order of Nuns. It was here that her writing encountered challenges when she was accused of plagiarism by one of the teaching Sisters. This Sister wrote comments on two assignments one said, “Keep up with the Readers Digest” and another “Original writings only.” It was the latter comment that hit home. She had written a story about the comparison between herself and a dying tree that was on the convent property. Upon reflection, she realized that this time away from home and the lack of encouragement was not helpful to her writing.
However, in 1988, Dr. Dohaney, the first novel was published, The Corrigan Women. It dealt with three generations of Newfoundland women and the effect that World War 1, World War 2 and Confederation had upon their lives. She went on to write six more novels, mostly Newfoundland-based: A Marriage of Masks, A Fit Month for Dying, To Scatter Stones; When Things Get Back to Normal, and The Flannigans. Her most recent publication is a book of short stories titled, Caplin Scull.
Dr. Dohaney wrote a screenplay – Come Back Paddy Riley – which became one of two screenplays that were selected by the Nova Scotia Film Board as winners in the Atlantic Film Festival. Come Back Paddy Riley was one of Dr. Dohaney’s proudest accomplishments as it was based on true events that affected her family. The story tells about her uncle from Newfoundland who went to war at a young age and like many others lost his life. Although a sad story, it contains much black humour, which made for an entertaining story. A Producer was ready to take it further, but Dr.Dohaney was conflicted on the proposed script direction which cast characters in an unfavourable light.
Dr. Dohaney holds a B.A, from UNB, M. Ed from the University of Maine, an ED. D, from Boston University. She was recognized by the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award in 1995 for her novel, A Marriage of Masks. She also received the Lieutenant’s Governor’s Award for High Achievement in English Language/Literature Arts in 2012 in New Brunswick.