A superhero in purple velvet? Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes?
When I was about nine my mother, who had been a teacher, introduced me to Anne of Green Gables. I was immediately hooked and begged for all the other L.M. Montgomery books. By age twelve, I was so into reading that in a two-month period when I was home a lot with a terrible flu, I went through seventy-five books.
All sorts of characters started coming to life in my mind and I thought I would tackle something myself. After listening to an episode of my favorite radio show, Fibber McGee and Molly (is there anyone who still remembers that) I decided to sit down and write a play myself.
What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
As I recall now, I don’t think the play was very long—maybe about fifteen minutes. But apparently, it was quite funny because the school principal decided to produce it and we performed it on stage at a PTA meeting. The audience howled most of the way through it and for about a week, I was the “toast of the town.” Heady stuff for a twelve year old.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
She’s a little old lady, closer to eighty than seventy. Back in her “Clark Kent” days she wrote television and radio commercials for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; then moved on to the travel industry where she often wrote articles about her flying trips for newspapers and travel trade journals. It wasn’t until she toured France and the areas where her Huguenot ancestors came from that she discovered the latent talent that could bring them to life.
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world-saving form?
I read what other writers write. I constantly have books in a variety of genres “on the go.” In fact, I’m an Amazon Vine reviewer, so I have to read every day to keep up with the books they send me. I also read a lot of “How to…” writing books. Because it was late in my life that I recognized I had this embryonic super power, I still need guidance on how to handle it.
Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
Oh, I wear it a lot. Sometimes far into the afternoon. It’s a purple velvet bathrobe that I’ve had for many years. It’s completely loose and allows all the creative juices to flow.
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
I think it’s my age. In the past, I was always able to think on my feet and words came to me with ease. Now I often have to wait for the right word to pop into my head. When my mind goes blank like that, I just tell myself to relax and stop thinking so hard. In a moment or two, the word will come to me. But this method definitely slows down the flow. That’s why I can only write a book every two years, so I do suggest that you start writing while you’re still young.
What was the super villain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
Fatigue. I was born tired anyhow and that hasn’t improved with age. I have to be totally rested before the voices in my head will wake up. However since I like to write at night between ten and midnight, that means a nice long nap in the afternoon. Since I’m retired, I don’t have to get up very early.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
I think it’s important to learn the so-called rules of writing fiction and then figure out which ones it is safe to break. Just as an example, when I was taking on-line writing courses, both students and teachers kept repeating the mantra “show don’t tell.” I thought to myself, must you never tell? Seems impossible. I finally found a realistic writing book entitled “Showing & Telling: Learn How to Show & When to Tell.” I learned that there is a place for both and that “telling” is often necessary to speed up the plot.
What has been your most memorable experience along the way?
Two years ago, the city where I lived opened a big, brand new, beautiful library in the center of town. My cousin’s daughter is a librarian there and we got a special invitation to explore it before the actual opening. Imagine my delight and surprise when she showed us the “historical fiction” section and there was my novel, in living colour, on the top shelf. She had convinced her superiors to order the book since they like to spotlight the writing of local authors. I didn’t expect it and it was a great experience.
If you did this, again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I’d definitely start writing seriously at a much younger age. It takes so many years to get really good at it, and unfortunately, I don’t think that I have that much time left.
I wouldn’t change my chosen genre. I love history and would always want to write about a different time than the one we live in.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
Don’t write only what you know. Thankfully, my life has been fairly free of conflict and cliff hanging moments, so it wouldn’t make a very interesting book.
Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
The new book is the sequel to “The Silk Weaver’s Daughter” and is probably going to be called “Night of the Gypsies.” **
Although Marc Garneau wasn’t the hero of the first book, many of my readers were fascinated by the handsome Frenchman and wanted to follow his further adventures. When Marc and his family set out to Europe to try to recover the fortune he left behind in France, they run into a band of gypsies. The strange woman they meet in that gypsy camp more or less changes the future of every one of the main characters.
It does stand-alone but I think it might be more interesting if one reads “The Silk Weaver’s Daughter” first.
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
I have an idea in my mind for a prequel to “The Silk Weaver’s Daughter” about one of the silk weaver’s ancestors who is mentioned in that novel. However, it will take a tremendous amount of research and I’m not young anymore. I always have to face that fact that I could run out of steam. Even superheroes sometimes fade away.
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