Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas from everywhere. Ideas sometimes
just pop into my head and I write them down and put them in
my 'idea file'. Sometimes, I hear someone talking and if I
like the idea I record it. I often clip out newspaper and
magazine articles that interest me. At the time, I don't know
if I will ever use the idea, but even years later when I am
sifting through my 'idea file' I just might put these ideas
into a book.
Why do you write historical fiction books?
I find historical fiction fascinating. By
combining history with fiction, my protagonists are forced
to do things and overcome tremendous obstacles that they never
would have had to do under normal circumstances.
How often do you write?
I write every day. Writing takes self discipline
and writers need to work every day in order to succeed. That
said, writing is a vocation that I love. It is my career,
and my passion.
Why do you write children's books?
I love writing children's books because they
have adventures, journeys and quests; because each one has
a beginning, a middle, and an end. I am an avid reader of
children's literature. I find that children's books transport
me out of the ordinary.
Do you get nervous talking in front of a group?
I started my career as an actress, acting
on television, in stage plays and in film. I enjoyed performing,
but I found the periods between gigs frustrating because I
had no venue to release my creativity. When I became pregnant
with my first child, I started to write. I found that this
gave me a creative outlet every day.
Once I was published, I was able to combine
my past career as an actress with my present career as a writer.
My experience from both fields gives me the confidence to
talk, present and perform before audiences.
I love it!
Are all your presentations the same?
Absolutely not! I adjust my material, my presentation
style, and even background music to the audience. Every group
is different. What works with one class will not work with
As soon as I get before a group, I get a sense
of what is working, and what isn't. I use my experience as
a professional actress to engage the audience and encourage
I change gears quickly, if my initial approach
isn't going over, and find another means of involving my audience.
Is research boring?
No way! Research is exciting. I pick topics
that interest and motivate me to learn more about the subject.
I am like a sponge, I want to learn everything possible about
what I am writing about. The boring stuff, I toss away, but
the facts that grab me, I keep and use in my books.
Research is not just an exercise in reading,
internet searching and telephone interviews. I also do research
in the real world: I travel to places to get a sense of location,
touch and feel.
My field research has taken me to parks with
bears, to marshes with blue herons, to the ocean with huge
waves and huge whales, and to the Bay of Fundy with the highest
tides in the world.
Research is fun.
What's your favourite book?
That's almost like asking a mother, who is
your favourite child? When I work on a book, I am passionate
about it and totally absorbed in it. For each book that I
write, I give my best effort and attention. When the book
comes out, I call it "My new baby". I am thrilled to see it
in print, but I still love my other books just as much. I
can't play favourites with my children!
Do you get writer's block?
Yes. Every writer has days when the writing
is not working. What do I do? I never just sit looking at
a blank page. I have a number of techniques to get my creative
juices flowing. At those times, I edit my material to keep
things moving and to get back "into" the book. I read sections
out loud, a technique that is helpful to find out if the dialogue
works. I even go for walks, and often, when my mind is not
focused on the writer's block, an idea comes to me and I rush
back to my computer to write it down.
Do you have a writers' group?
Yes. My writers' group is a wonderful sounding
board to test out my material. They are colleagues who help
me see things in my story that I have overlooked. My writers'
group is supportive; we encourage each other when things are
tough, and we celebrate our successes in getting new books
What writing organizations do you recommend?
All of the writing organizations that I've
listed on my contact page are helpful.
For children's writing, I find the monthly meetings and networking
through CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors,
Illustrators and Performers) to be most beneficial.