Interview with Florida Town

When did you first start writing?
I first started writing when I was five years old. I learned to read when I was four and when I was five, mom and dad gave me a toy typewriter for Christmas. That was the start of my writing career. I wrote for school newspapers when I got older, and after graduation, I worked as a newspaper reporter. I was the first female sports reporter at the Vancouver Sun (this was back in the 1940s) and that was an adventure in itself. From there I moved through various departments of the Sun, and other daily newspapers in Vancouver.
What's the story behind your latest book?
On The Rim is pure fiction - but it is, unfortunately, based on fact. I saw many of my friends, neighbors and relatives, involved in divorces, in separations, and in various romantic entanglements. I ride a bicycle - and there is something almost hypnotic in the action of pedaling, and something wonderfully liberating in the actual ride. So your mind ranges around. It was during one of my rides that I started imagining 'what if?" What if a woman absolutely didn't see a divorce coming - and that actually happened to someone very near to me.
Then I began to imagine my protagonist - what would Ellen be like? What was her backstory? How did she react to this, and other situations? From there, it was like entering her world and sharing her experiences.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've been both an indie and a traditionally published author. In some cases, impatience led me to self-publish: I didn't want to go through the long process that it takes to get a traditional book published. That was the story with The Copper Trail. In other cases, I had a specialized audience. I used to live in the isolated mining town of Britannia. It became a ghost town for many years, then, when a road was cut through to Squamish and Whistler (site of the 2010 winter Olympics) it bounced back to life, and developed a world-class museum devoted to mining history. But I knew something about the 'people' history of the area, so I wrote two self-published books, Before The Road Came, and The Lively Ghost of Howe Sound, both aimed at a very specific readership.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has given me a platform to present my books.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love getting to know my characters - they become very real.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean everything for me. If they didn't enjoy the books, if they couldn't share the adventure, there would be no point to writing at all.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on a story that deals with two teen-aged girls, one Caucasian, the other East Indian. They grew up as neighbors and best friends, but as they mature, their lives change. The thrust of the story is re-evaluating a relationship, and seeing if what you 'always knew' about a person was actually true or not.
Who are your favorite authors?
Colleen McCulloch, Wilbur Smith, Diana Gabaldon, to name only a few. I'm an omnivorous reader and my favorite is frequently the one I'm reading at the moment - but McCulloch, Smith and Gabaldon are permanent favorites.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
There's a whole new day ahead of me!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a paddling coach - I work with outrigger paddlers on several levels. I'm a competitive swimmer and paddler, so I spend some time training each day and I ride my bike on a daily basis. I also have a loving family, and a wide circle of friends. I don't have enough time to do all I want to.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I cruise through smashwords and I go to various sites - such as Often I find books through word-of-mouth - and old fashioned means of discovering something in high-tech!!!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Sorry, I can't. There have been so many stories over the years - ranging from newspaper stories through radio plays, television scripts and books.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I really don't - but I do remember the feeling of awe at how realistic some writers made fiction - even though I knew they were not real people, they 'felt' like they were. That's what I've tried to do in my writing - help my reader believe in the characters I've created.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I really don't - but I do remember the feeling of awe at how realistic some writers made fiction - even though I knew they were not real people, they 'felt' like they were. That's what I've tried to do in my writing - help my reader believe in the characters I've created.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I try to relate it to the book. For example, The Lively Ghost Of Howe Sound is a history about a ghost town that came back to life. It had a distinctive 'footprint' - the gravity fed mill cascaded down a mountain slop. The book cover I designed was a reverse print of that mill, done in yellow against a black background. Very dramatic and very eye-catching. A friend painted the cover for Before The Road Came. With A Silent Companion was published by Red Deer Press, and they had a staff artist do the cover. The North West Company sponsored the book of that name, and commissioned an artist to do the cover - he did a magnificent job, depicting a voyageur canoe and crew. On The Rim, published by Dundurn, had a staff artist create the cover. Making Waves is a cover I created, from photographic images. The Copper Trail cover was created by a Createspace artist - and I really love it. It captures the essence of the book, and its teen-aged heroine.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm an omnivorous reader and I read anything. I've dipped into books that I thought weren't my genre, only to find something delightful in them. Sometimes it's description, sometimes it's characterization. And of course, I love reading history and historical fiction. Some of the books about the Tudor period, I literally couldn't put down.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kobo.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth. I wish I knew how to reach a wider audience, but so far, WOM has been the most productive. And that requires personal contact. I need to be twins. Or perhaps quintuplets.....
Describe your desk
How do you spell 'clutter'? I have little piles of reference material, I have a dictionary and atlas and I have a stack of my favorite music disks. I also have maps on my wall - some fictional - showing the areas where my books take place. For example, The Copper Trail map shows the routes my protagonists took in their travels, and the major trade routes of the day.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in several different places. My family was fiddle-footed. That's an old Scottish expression that means you don't stay in one place for long. We moved roughly once a year, all through my childhood. That meant a new school every year, new friends every year, new interests every year. At various times we lived in Vancouver's east side, west end, Fairview district, Commerical Drive area, Boundary Road, we lived in Britannia, first at the Beach and then at the Townsite, we lived in Surrey - as I say, my growing up was spread over a pretty wide area. I believe it DID influence my writing, because it gave me insights into a wider group of people and life styles, than I would have had otherwise.
What is your writing process?
I find some quirky little item - maybe a scrap of overhead conversation, maybe something I read in the newspaper - whatever - and then I start a mental game of 'what if'? I sketch an outline, but it's very rough. My husband says it's just something to deviate from - and I think he's right. Once I get into the story, the characters tend to take over.
Published 2013-09-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Making Waves
Price: $1.29 USD. Words: 35,830. Language: English. Published: July 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Family
Merribeth is getting ready for the regional swim meet finals - when her parents tell her she has to go to Arizona with her grandmother instead. It sounds like a trip to purgatory but it doesn't turn out that way. When her best friend, stage-struck Jennifer, is included in the trip, interesting things begin to happen.
Before The Road Came
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 51,640. Language: English. Published: June 2, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » History » War, Nonfiction » Biography » Historical biography
Sixty years ago, Britannia was the home of the largest copper mine in the British Empire. Several thousand people lived in its two main communities: The Townsite and The Beach. It was a scant 50 miles from Vancouver, but was accessible only boat. Before The Road Came is a story about life in that isolated mining camp, during WW2.