I am hoping and expecting that the DD mentorship has a strong impact on my writing, in both quality and in quantity. My mentor Marina Endicott has a discerning eye (she’s given me feedback on my work before) so I know my writing will improve under her guidance. It’s also great to have hard deadlines . . . forced productivity!
I’m a bit surprised I’m writing a police procedural mystery. My dad was a police officer and policing’s male hierarchical culture never appealed. I’m also a bit of a scaredy-cat so I only read the tamer thrillers and cosy mysteries. But my dad was an officer on Toronto Island in the 1960s. The Island is a wonderful local jewel, with an intriguing history of amusement halls, water rescues, murders, drunkenness, cottaging, and political unrest. It begged to be a novel setting. When I decided my protagonist would be a six-foot-tall police woman trying to ascend the ranks so she could pay off her mom’s gambling debt, I was hooked.
In some ways it’s easy to re-create the Toronto Island of the 1960s as some things are very similar: the communities, the pathways, the beaches, the feel of being close to an urban centre yet immersed in a natural setting. The 1960s was a tempestuous time for Islanders as the government was trying to demolish their homes and this is well documented in the Toronto Archives. I interviewed my dad and several senior Islanders . . . and they are helping me bring the time period to life.
I have interviewed police women who started on the Toronto Police Force in the ’60s. I’ve also read extensively about police women in North America and unfortunately, the experiences of sexism, harassment and bias are endemic even today.
My writing process is to write and research at the same time. I can get sidetracked by research as it’s absorbing and so much easier than writing a first draft so I have to rein that in. I write for two or three hours in the afternoon (after I teach in the mornings and before my kids come home from school). I also write in coffee shops and libraries as I seem more productive in these caffeinated locals.
My life is too busy yet mundane (teach, write, parent, clean, repeat!) to be the subject of a book.
In a perfect world, I would do what I do now: teach children to read, write books, and read books. . . . I just need more time to do all three and more money!
Ten years from now, I have three books out in my Toronto Island mystery series, I’ve sold my literary novel The Monkey Charm and have another literary novel on the go, and I have an agent who is busy selling the film rights for all my books. In between, I write articles and poetry and short stories. Getting published in book-form would be my career highlight . . . the low point is the wait (and patience!) it has taken to get my first novel published.