Jacqui Nelson’s North of the Border Blog
On Thursday, April 4th 2019
Jacqui Nelson on her North of the Border blog series,
asked me a loaded question?
What Canadian people, places, and life experiences
have influenced your writing?
But she hadn’t taken into account my age… I said,
Thank you for inviting me to be a guest
on your North of the Border blog, Jacqui.
And here is a bit about me…
I started out as a child, but soon became a gas jockey, chambermaid, waitress, switchboard telephone operator, marine radio operator, catalogue clerk, bank teller, securities clerk, air service radio operator/office manager, shipping clerk, wife, bookkeeper in aviation and mining exploration, rivet bucker, columnist, wild rice harvester, mother, teacher, videographer, seamstress, student, medical office assistant, scrapbooker/retailer, government statistician, photographer, artist, and author.
In the event I never grow up, at least I have found my niche. Writing!
Throughout my life, I have been writing. From articles and Art Society columns for my local paper in Manitoba, to grant applications and business manuals, and letters that verged on tomes, as evidenced by the additional postage necessary. My poetry and anecdotes have been published in the Ojo del Lago in Ajijic, Jalisco. But A Person of Interest was my first novel – my baby – with the gestation period of an elephant.
A Person of Interest – An Excerpt
“Samantha’s pulse raged. Could they hear it from down the alley? She hesitated, held her breath, and listened. In the darkness, pelting rain muffled the voices of the two men she knew would soon round the corner and see her silhouetted against the light from the street beyond. Ahead, she spotted the dark recess of a delivery entrance. As her mind raced, Samantha’s feet struggled in nightmarish slow motion against the grip of debris and rushing water that conspired to drag her backwards into danger. The instant she reached the doorway, she leapt up onto the threshold. Pressing her back hard against the ridges of the cold metal door, she wished she could melt into it like a Dali watch.”
I don’t know what inspired A Person of Interest except to say I had nightmares as a child. Trying to escape in slow motion while my demons had the speed of a cheetah filled my little heart with terror. I would wake in a sweat, panting. Those were the nights I ran to my parent’s bed and snuggled down between them.
But the cottage in A Person of Interest is based on a version of my childhood summer camp on Vermillion Lake in Northwestern Ontario. Let me tell you why.
Bow-Manor: A Daydreamer’s Paradise
My father, Robert Rowell Bowman, built Bow-Manor in an octagon because the logs, which were actually railway ties, were only eight feet long. After a few years, he added a verandah around the front three sections of the cabin and bedrooms off either end of it. All bets were nailed to the floor before he ceremoniously cut off the centre pole holding up the peak.
Despite the ever-present possibility of bear encounters in my wanderings, growing up at camp was peaceful. I traipsed up the beach visiting my friends in other camps, pressed wildflowers and leaves, chopped wood, swam, fished, built rafts and daydreamed.
There was a secluded spot on the point between our beach and the big beach where I could sit on a huge rock completely hidden. The rock had a hollow carved out of it just waiting for a day-dreamer like me. I could look down into the water and watch the minnows skimming over the sand between the rocks. Leaves would float by and bob on the wake of passing boats. The chirping birds, the lapping water, the boats and the jingling of the poplar (aspen) leaves are as fresh in my mind now as they were sixty years ago.
You can see the point behind Sniffer and me at the end of our beach. Sniffer was from Hollywood, but that’s another story. I visited many far-flung places from my rock. I think I was even on the dig at Troy. That’s the year I was reading adventures in archaeology.
So, you can see why, when I needed the perfect refuge for Samantha, I chose a version of Bow-Manor, but then I couldn’t foresee the violence at Chambers Lane Cottage in Murder by Bits and Bytes.
Murder by Bits and Bytes
Sequel to A Person of Interest
Getting to know Samantha and Ben in A Person of Interest has been an extraordinary experience, so much so, I could not leave them to live their lives in peace—I had to revisit them. What I discovered so horrified me I had to write the sequel—Murder by Bits and Bytes.
Excerpt from Murder by Bits and Bytes
“Samantha’s world spun in a blur as she swivelled on her heels until her eyes fixed on something white near the shore. She blinked to clear her tears. “What is that?”
A sneaker bobbed against a rock. She ignored the bone-chilling water as she rushed in to grasp the shoe before it could be swept away. It was Ben’s, and it was still laced… Samantha screamed his name as she scanned the steel-grey river downstream as far as she could see. She squinted into the depths of the overhanging vegetation on the other shore. Pitching over the slippery rocks and sand along the shore, she spotted two deep drag marks that scored the embankment. Almost blinded by tears, her eyes darted across the surface again, upstream and down, before she staggered up past the fire pit, following the drag marks to where they grew faint in the hard ground at the foot of the front steps of the cottage. There, they ended–or began?”
Chamber’s Lane Cottage was no longer Samantha’s peaceful refuge.
Murder by Bits and Bytes
Book Launch 24 June 2020
Can be seen on my YouTube channel