For Cora Goodyear, the path to writing a book didn't begin with a single inspiration or a niggling idea.
It began 20 years ago when she took her first tentative steps through the gates of a B.C. prison, as a volunteer.
Goodyear has just self-published Prison to Freedom, a book that uses fiction to paint a portrait of the daily lives of women in the B.C. and Canadian prison systems.
She based it on almost two decades of meeting, helping, and befriending prisoners.
"I think my palms were sweating," Goodyear said of her first visit, to the nowclosed Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women. "I really didn't know what to expect."
She had joined the group known as M2W2, which stands for Man-to-Man, Woman-to-Woman. It pairs up prisoners with people outside of the system, to help form relationships and support the prisoners both in the system and after they're released.
Goodyear first heard about the program at her church. About a year later, armed with some free time, she took the plunge.
She was pleasantly surprised by her first night speaking to the inmates.
"I felt very comfortable after that, I think I realized they were human, just like the rest of us," she said.
She has been matched up with many prisoners over the years since then, and said her relationship with all of them has been basically good.
She took part in the M2W2 matchup program for 14 years, and since then has been active working for the organization. She currently sits on its board.
Goodyear remains in touch with many of the prisoners she met, some who are on the outside after serving their time, and others who remain behind bars.
Seeing prison life, and speaking with and befriending so many people who had lived there, left Goodyear with strong opinions about the prison system.
"I don't necessarily think prison is the answer for a lot of crimes," she said. "I don't think you can come out of prison unscathed."
Support for prisoners, from families or friends, is one of the most import-ant things to help them restart their lives, Goodyear believes.
"A lot of families reject these people, or a lot of them have no good families to start with," Goodyear said.
As she semi-retired from her volunteer work, Goodyear was looking for another project.
"I think I always wanted to write a book," she said.
She turned to the issue she felt passionately about, and wrote a novel to help explain what prisoners, especially women, go through when they are arrested, processed, tried, and sentenced.
The book follows Daphne, a three-time federal prisoner, and her parole officer Kate, as Kate tries to use a new tactic to turn Daphne's life around.
Kate orders the prisoner to read the journal of another prisoner, Laura, written as she was first arrested and began her journey from the street into the system.
The two stories proceed in parallel as Daphne slowly sees some of the mistakes she's made and the ways she needs to change her life.
The characters and incidents are composites, based on the many prisoners and prison workers Goodyear has met.
She credits help from the Langley Writers' Guild, friends and family, and her faith for helping her put together her first book.
It took about a year and a half to finish Prison to Freedom, and since its printing, Goodyear has sold a number of copies.
She said often people picture prisoners as monsters, and the core purpose of the book is to get people to see them as human beings.
After all, most prisoners will eventually leave the system.
"It's better for them to have programs that help them become better citizens," said Goodyear.
She's hoping to get copies of Prison to Freedom into local bookstores in the near future.