How has your work as a teacher influenced your writing?
My career as a teacher has influenced me, but not the teaching aspect. For over 30 years, I have worked with First Nations children and youth in six areas of British Columbia. Their culture has impressed me with how the people have used their natural surroundings to survive.
The first book I wrote was a graphic novel which included native culture, and many of the characters were based on people I knew. They gave their consent to be a character.
From your books, it seems that you’re very close to nature. Have you always been that way?
Since I grew up on a remote farm, I have always been close to nature. Many of the places I worked in BC were very remote, some fly-in only. I have seen some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in BC. Working in Pacific Ocean communities has been great, with awe inspiring waves, rocky shores, and pebble beaches. In the Cassiar mountains of the north, I hiked to the top of mountains where I sketched wild flowers and mountain sheep.
What’s your favorite book?
I don’t have a favorite book, but do have a favorite author, Jodi Thomas. She writes contemporary western romance. I like her so much that I asked her to be a character, the lady pastor, in my graphic novel. She said yes!
Where’s your favorite place to write? What’s your writing process like?
My favorite place to write used to be on top of mountains, where I wrote poetry. Now that I live in Alberta, I write in an easy chair in my living room.
The writing process starts with a concept that I mind-map around. When something grabs me or jolts my attention, I focus on that. Then I play the main scenes out like a movie in my mind. I am visually oriented, being first an artist, so I have to see all the scenes in my head before I can write them.
Then I plot out the major scenes in a circle, with connecting lines between them, showing how each character affects others. This is the left brain work. Then I start writing directly on the computer. I make written notes to remind me of things I want to add, and personal drama between characters.
The scenes can change, and new ideas come up, and even new characters walk in. These I jot down before forgetting them.
Real books or e-readers?
I only do real hard copy books, though I tried to add my books to Kindle, but that did not work.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for a long time. Initially, I wrote poetry, and some of it was published. Then I took a college fiction writing course from a lady who was a successful young adult writer. She was good at inspiring us to write short stories. Another distance ed course in fiction writing also helped. The main text was Fiction Writers Workshop, which I recommend to everyone.
Do you have any other books in the works?
The book I am working on now is tentatively titled Mountains Where You Can Ride Horses. An accounting clerk quits her job, learns carpentry, and seeks to build a cabin by herself in the BC wilderness.