Photo: MY FIRST COMPUTER ~ I wrote my first 2 novels, Listen to the Shadows and Nowhere to Hide, on an Olivetti typewriter.
I've always been drawn to the dark side of the human psyche, and devoured everything from Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Jackson growing up. It is no surprise to me I turned out to be a writer of psychological suspense. Being a published author was my dream.
I like to write about ordinary women who are at a difficult time in their lives, and are suddenly faced with an external evil force. Women who are stronger than they think they are. I didn't think a whole lot about theme until I had written a couple of books, but I realized with the writing of my third novel Chill Waters that my books generally have to do with betrayal and abandonment in some form, and learning to trust again. And more important, learning to trust oneself. Almost any good book will tell you something about the author herself. (Or himself.) You can't avoid it. But first and foremost I want to give readers a roller-coaster ride, one that keeps them on the edge of their collective seats and resonates in the imagination long after the last page is read.
I grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada's oldest incorporated city, situated on the Bay of Fundy. I married my husband, Mel, when I was 18, and we had 3 children within four years. Our son, Bill, came along 18 years later. When the children were still small, we moved from the city to Gondola Point, (it was country then, but no more) and lived there happily with various beloved pets over the years, including our wonderful dog, Scamp, who died recently. We lived in a modest, but comfortable home, overlooking the Kennebecasis River. Lots of lovely tall pine trees as I looked out my window. People often told me the view must be inspiring, but the truth is when I was at my computer, my back was to the river, my head already filled with characters and scenes as I live in a world of the imagination.
My husband is gone now and I sold the house and moved back to the city to escape the loneliness. I'm in a very nice apartment in a historical part of Saint John, and I'm content here with my new little Calico cat, Bella. Out my window, I can see a beautiful old church with the steeple jutting into the sky, and a clock that competes with the moon. It is Sunday morning and the church bells are ringing as I type this.
But back to beginnings. My first story sold to True Confessions, more than 30 years ago. The second story, after being rejected numerous times, sold to Home Life magazine. It was titled God's Special Gift, and was about my grandmother, who was an artist. Her death, as a result of a house fire, when I was 15, was devastating. But she shared in my dream and wouldn't have wanted me to give up.
When my children grew less dependent on me, I decided to pursue my lifelong dream of writing a novel. Always an insatiable reader, I immersed myself in the work of those writers who had instilled in me the desire to write -- Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Dickens, and contemporary authors like Ira Levin, Phyllis Whitney, Joy Fielding, Ruth Rendell, Stephen King, and so many more fine writers.
At the same time I was making notes for my own novel. Listen to the Shadows sold first time out to Zebra Books. Not that they gave me a contract right away; they said it needed to be 100 pages longer. Back to the drawing board. At last, the book was published and Nowhere to Hide came shortly on its heels. I was thrilled when Nowhere to Hide won an EPPIE AWARD. Chill Waters, Night Corridor, The Abduction of Mary Rose, Tragic Spawn (previously titled Defective) The Deepest Dark and my latest novel, And Then he was Gone, followed. My publisher for a number of years now has been Books We Love, a wonderful Canadian publisher who has been both friend and a supporter of my work.
Of course I started out as a story listener. Both my mom and dad were great storytellers, and I needed only to hear the words: 'I remember the time when ...' to feel that rare and exquisite pleasure in the anticipation of a new story.
The dark, scary ones were best -- my father told of a man with the cloven foot who showed up at a card game...a young girl's body found in the woods behind the school... (murder was not so common then) the town drunk found dead in the cemetery, his face as granite-white with frost as the tombstones surrounding him. Word was that something had scared him to death.
My mother had a ouija board that she and her friends took quite seriously. And we had a neighbor who visited us -- a fortune teller named Mrs. Fortune. It's true. Everyone was poor in money, but not in the abundance of inner life. Not so surprising then that my background should influence the kind of stuff I find delicious to write about.
My other passion is acting in community theatre - see Photo Gallery- with major roles in a number of plays, among them Same Time Next Year, Arsenic and Old Lace, Night must Fall and The Killing of Sister George. Same Time, Next Year. For my role of Agnes in The Shadow Box, I was nominated for best supporting actress at the Provincial Drama Festival. Great fun! One can learn much about the craft of writing from the well written play -- structure, economy of words, pacing...
Being a part of those productions evolved out of the backyard shows we used to put on when we were kids. And the little stories I scribbled led to this. Cool
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