Interviews are not my strong suit. I always think of the perfect answer in the middle of the night afterwards. But if YOU asked me…..

 

What is the first book that made you cry?

Angel Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers  (Published 1954). I read it as a child. It is the story of Roy Rogers’ and Dale Evans’ Down’s Syndrome daughter, Robin, written from the child’s point-of-view as she talks to God about the mission she just completed on earth. As a grandmother, now, I’m sure I did not grasp the concept of grief, or the ‘blessing of a special child’ they felt when I was six.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It energizes me. When my characters are charging around in my head, I forget the time and before I know it, the sun is coming up, my neck has seized up, and my bum is numb.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I discovered organizations of like-minded people: The Creative Academy for Writers, The Federations of BC Writers, Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and NaNoWriMo!

What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success would see my writing improve with each new novel, and I dwell in the black. It is tragic that I can never fulfil my dream of deserving an interview with Shelagh Rogers or Eleanor Wachtel. I expected them to live on forever on CBC.

 

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It all depends on the book. For A Person of Interest, I researched the VPD, RCMP, CrimeStoppers, stolen identities, the Charter of Rights, The Criminal Code of Canada and legal procedure. For Murder by Bits and Bytes, I researched RCMP, test platforms for operating systems, various divisions of the RCMP including Interpol, US State Police, PTSD, and grieving. For Murder by Pins and Needles, I researched the Coroner’s Office, Coroner’s reports online, genealogy, wills, trusts, strokes, and diabetes. And then I bent the rules whenever they slowed down the pace of the story.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I find it exhilarating, mesmerizing. I zone out—writing as fast as I can to keep up with the feed from my characters. It’s not the same as meditation, where I’m trying not to think.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

I have to lean back and get myself in their head space—especially in dialogue. That’s where visualizing acters come in handy and the Read Aloud feature on MSWord. It helps if I have a collage of free downloadable headshots for my characters.

How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?

Sixty-five years. Didn’t write much the first five years.

What period of your life do you find you write about most often?

I only write about myself in my blogs and anecdotes – So it is the full gamete—all seven decades plus a century prior to that. Watch for my Adventures in genealogy.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I agonize over it. I test them. Then I check the Google phonebook in the area to see how many people have the same name. If there’s only a few, I change it. If it is common, I keep it. Sometimes a friend volunteers to lend me their name. That’s fun. One of the characters in Murder by Pins and Needles is a close friend. Occasionally, I make a mistake, like Ben’s best friend Gerry – Gerard. Ben and Gerry? If only I had called him Gary. Sooo close.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

There would be no time to work. I would still paint, draw, quilt, photograph, research for writing and genealogy, scrapbook, journal, travel, swim, hike and read.  There is no tired like being re-tired.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Funeral, grieving, and final scenes are the hardest to write. I cry every time I rewrite. I still cry in the sentimental scenes too.

Do you Google yourself?

I have done, but because I don’t go incognito, Google knows it’s me and fills the page with me, me, me. Makes me feel pretty good, actually. Try it.

What is your favorite childhood book?

There are three books that have stuck in my memory all these years. The Splendid Spur, The Lily of Fort Garry, and a book on archaeology about the City of Troy. That one had me dreaming of a career in archaeology, and a book on the pyramids had me drawing blueprints—something I did for many years.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, I think it’s a real thing. However, my characters don’t allow me to stare at a blank page for long when I’m writing a novel. But, when I have to write a newsletter or blog without them, I skirt around it like a poodle facing a crocodile. The words ‘I have to’ show my reluctance to just do it. I have loads of ideas, but I balk at the ‘getting it just right’ while writing in a hurry.

If you asked me..
…that’s probably what I would say.  But if you have another burning question, please ask me in the Comments below.


As Frasier would say: I’m listening.
Ardelle