When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
Once I got past wanting to be a gypsy princess, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It just took me a long time to follow through.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
My mother, concerned that I had so little interest in reading as I entered my teens, bought me my first category romance novel. That’s when I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – a romance writer. From there, my tastes expanded to mystery and fantasy. Witch in the Wind starts out with a murder but comes to life with witches, warlocks, a canine familiar and even a magical dimension I created called The Otherland.
How many jobs did you have before you became a writer?
As often happens, life got in the way of my writing dream and it’s taken me more than two decades to circle back to it. But I’ve finally done it! Before that I had a very successful career in the senior management ranks of the international business and high tech world.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
You can be inspired to write a particular story, but I’m not sure you can be inspired to become a writer. Writers write. We can’t help ourselves. My mother reminded me recently that, when I was in elementary school, probably only seven or eight years old, I would sit in the kitchen with her to work on a story for school. No matter how late it got, I would struggle to find exactly the right word for a sentence. She might have to suggest four or five before I’d agree. Then I’d get really excited when we hit on the one I felt was perfect. I remember feeling, even then, that there was a rhythm and flow to each sentence.
Which authors have influenced you most and how?Had a wonderful chat with Kate Carlisle about cozy mystery writing at Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto Canada Imagine meeting indomitable Sara Paretsky – author/creator of V.I. Warshawski, the first powerful female lead in detective fiction.
The first one who leaps to mind is Dame Agatha Christie. Unlike my siblings, I was slow to see the appeal of reading. My school’s required reading list was not very exciting —when was Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders ever considered YA fiction? In desperation, my mother bought me my first romantic suspense, which led to Agatha Christie and there was no turning back. She hooked me with And Then There Were None and pulled me through her entire series to Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case. Having waited until 2012 to fully focus on my fiction writing, I still take courage from the fact Agatha didn’t start her writing career until late in life and kept going up into her 80’s. I plan to do the same!
The other one is Nora Roberts. I heard her speak at an RWA Conference in New York, when someone asked her how she found the time to write given family obligations and other conflicting responsibilities. Her typically blunt response has stayed with me. She said, “Who’s the boss of you?” We all have to make choices about our commitment to our writing and how we balance it with our other responsibilities – but it is our decision to make. If it’s important to you, you find the time.
As my career has progressed, however, I’ve followed and even met, so many incredible authors, and learned so many lessons from them all; Sara Paretsky, Madelyn Alt, Juliet Blackwell, Victoria Laurie, Annette Blair, Deanna Chase, Kate Carlisle to name just a few, that I have been able to figure out what niche I fit into.
What genres do you like to write?
I’m a bit of a genre bender I’ve always got a cozy mystery running through my stories, as I do in my holiday romance, THE HOLLY & THE IVY. And, I’ve learned most of the craft from romance writers so there’s always a hero and heroine who have to build a relationship of some kind to resolve the puzzle and reach their goals. But then I may weave in light supernatural elements, or give it an old style detective twist, or wander into the international suspense thriller genre…really wherever my imagination takes me.
How many books have you published and how long does it take you to complete a book?
Practice makes you faster in the publishing world and that seems to be my experience as well. It took me ten years, and lots of classes and workshops, to write my first two manuscripts (which live under my bed and will stay there), but only ten months in 2012 to write my debut novel, a sweet paranormal romance entitled WITCH IN THE WIND. I guess I needed a deadline to really motivate me to get my bootie in that chair and write. I also released STORIES OF CHANCE ROMANCE in 2012. My writing partner, Roxy Boroughs, and I had written almost a dozen sweet romance short stories over the years so, when we were both touched very personally by breast cancer, we decided to publish them as an anthology and donate all our author royalties from sales of that book to the Breast Cancer Foundation. Author Victoria Chatham joined the project this year with three new stories so we’ve updated the book and cover. My holiday romance, as part of A Frost Family & Friends series, The Holly & The Ivy, is my third story and it took me a very intense five months from first draft to final proof. I’d like to settle eventually into a comfortable pace of a book a year. Right now, I’m working on the sequel for Witch in the Wind and hope to get it out in early 2019. I have several other manuscripts in the rough stage to get back to after that.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I dream my scenes before I write them. Honestly! I’ve been a lucid dreamer from early childhood.
What is the hardest thing about writing a book?
The hardest thing about writing any book is doing it – that is, putting your posterior in the chair and typing the words.
Do you have a routine that you use to get into the right frame of mind to write?
I need to get enough sleep. LOL. And, contrary to what most writers find about writing in the morning, I’m a nighthawk. I have to clear the decks of all my other chores during the day and then I sit down late in the afternoon and the creative juices start to flow. I do my best work from 8 pm to midnight.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I’d love to say I write in a cozy café or some unique or exotic locale but honestly I sit in my home office. That’s where I have easy access to all my reference books, the kitchen when I need a cup of tea, and a hug from my hubby when I’m convinced I can’t write a single word worth reading.
Where did you grow up and do you think it influenced your writing?
I’m a pirate at heart.
I was born on an island in the North Atlantic, off the east coast of Canada, called Newfoundland. Its history dates back to the Vikings, and, culturally, we lean heavily to Irish. There were still Gaelic speakers in Newfoundland well into the 20th century.
Until I started researching for my first book, Witch in the Wind, I didn’t realize there was a little-known yet long-established tradition of witch lore in Newfoundland culture. My ancestors believed in everything from fairies to leprechauns, four-leaf clovers to banshees, and had all sorts of rituals to ward off evil spirits or bad luck. And, like the Irish, we love to spin a tale! Supposedly my family line goes back to the rebel, Michael Collins. And I did navigate a pirate ship once (see photo), but that’s a whole other story. Suffice it to say, folktales and storytelling are bred into my family genes.
What do you do in your free time?
My husband can really call me a ‘gold digger’ after this trip to the Saskatchewan River!
What free time???? I write, do the dishes, I write, walk the dogs, I write, have coffee with my writing partner, I write…..you get the picture. LOL
Truthfully, I do love to take the dogs out. We have two, a Bichon Shih Tzu cross named Kipper (aka my little dead fish) and a Bichon rescue, named Benny (aka the knicker-napper).
Lacrosse is the second Canadian national sport along with hockey and we have season tickets to watch the Calgary Roughnecks in the National Lacrosse League (NLL). My hubby and I also love to go ‘rock hounding’. On one of our most exciting field trips, we found a bed of dinosaur bones in Drumheller, Alberta. We’ve also taken a few workshops on silversmithing so that we can make jewelry when we start finding semi-precious stones on our expeditions. I already make beaded jewelry and I do a bit of painting and pottery. My latest passion is art journaling.
The Frost Family & Friends series is always set in the winter- is that your favorite season?
Actually no! I love the first big fluffy snowflakes but after that it’s too cold for me. I love the fall. It’s still warm and sunny out and, up here in Canada, the trees turn the most amazing colors. I’ve always lived by the academic calendar so I think of the fall as the beginning of a new year. I get to turn to a fresh page and start something new and exciting.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m pathologically optimistic so my favorite quote of the moment is, “Everything you want in life is just one step away; all you have to do is decide in which direction to step.” I have no idea who said it.
Favorite quote from a movie?
My writing partner, Roxy Buroughs, and I recently talked about this and we had to laugh at how different our choices were. She’s so sentimental! Her favorite is from The Wizard of Oz when the Wizard says to the Tin Man, “A heart is not measured by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.” I’m in the midst of repurposing my life after a long (read, stressful) career, so no surprise that my quote is when Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society says, “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
I’ve always been fascinated by Amelia Earhart. My father was a bush pilot and Amelia took off from my home province of Newfoundland on May 20, 1932, to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic when she landed in Ireland. Midflight, poor weather forced her to change her destination—with tenacity and courage, she adapted. Whenever I hit obstacles, whether they are in my life journey or in my story arcs, I picture myself flying over the Atlantic with the wind in my hair, breathing in the fresh salt air. It reminds me that I can also find the tenacity and courage to reset my compass and head in a new direction. It works every time! And in one of life’s great ironies, Roxy Buroughs once played Amelia Earhart in a school play. Obviously, we were destined to meet!
What would readers be surprised to find out about you?
My life is full of surprises. My first career was as a computer security specialist in international banking so I lived through the evolution of the internet as computers took over from paper processes. It was unusual to be a woman in that field and at that time. My job required that I travel all over the world. There was one occasion, in the late 80s, when I sat in a meeting with the CIA on one side of the table and the KGB on the other. Another incident, when I was in my late twenties and in Paris on business, I got lost in the warehouse district late one night when the subway shut down. I was terrified but after almost two hours, I was rescued by a tall, dark and handsome stranger—with a French accent!
It’s great to be able to pursue my dream of being an author at this point in my life, but my earlier career experiences certainly feed into my plots.