Q: What do you like best about being a writer?
A: The best part of being a writer comes after the book is done and I start to hear from people who enjoyed reading it. That makes my heart sing.
Q: What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
A: The hardest part of being a writer is getting the first draft written. That’s because every time I’m working on a new book I have to overcome the fear that I won’t be able to do it. To get past this self-doubt I remind myself that I was able to do it before, and then I make small goals. Some days the ideas flow easily, other days I can’t write more than a hundred words.
Q: Where do you write?
A: I live on four acres in a farming area so I have lots of places inside and outside my house that I like to write. In my old home I used to have only a little cubby in my bedroom where my first four books were written. At that time I wished for a place that had a view of nature, mountains, and trees. And then that wish came true.
Q: Do you have any advice for a new writer?
A: I think the best thing new writers can do (as well as experienced ones) is find some fellow writers to share their work with. If you can’t find a critique group that is taking new members, then start your own group.
Q: How long did it take you to write your books?
A: I got the idea for Reading the Bones when I was a student in university. It wasn’t until twenty years later that I actually wrote it. So you could say it took twenty years for me to write my first book. Since then it generally takes a year or two for me to write a book, depending on what’s happening in the rest of my life. I’m a teacher most of the year, so do most of my writing in the summers and on holidays.
Q: What did you read when you were a kid?
A: I wasn’t a big reader when I was a kid. We raised horses, had gobs of other animals, lots of kids nearby, open fields to explore and so many favourite games to play. So I was never much for sitting still for very long. But I loved stories, and lucky for me my dad was a great storyteller. When I got older I discovered l loved to read books. Some of my favourites were: A Wrinkle in Time; The Giver; I Am David; and The Sky Watchers.
Q: Where do your story ideas come from?
A: Some of my story ideas have come from things that happened in my own life. For instance, my sister, Jane, had Down syndrome and that had a huge impact on me. As a result some of my experiences and memories are woven into The Jigsaw Puzzle King and Free as a Bird. With Reading the Bones and the other books in that series the ideas came from a time in my life when I was studying archaeology at university. Like the night when I was in the lab by myself working with the remains of a burial from a five thousand year-old Coast Salish fishing village not far from where I lived. I started to wonder who this man was and what might he be thinking about me poking, measuring, weighing and examining his ancient and cracked old bones. That was a turning point from seeing simply a box of old bones to feeling a sense of respect for the life they represented.