When I was five, my mother and I drove up to Jasper on what was then a dirt road. Wild bears were plentiful and wandered about freely.
We pulled up at a spot where tourists were hand-feeding the bears candy bars. (Even as a kid, I knew that was a Bad Idea!) When Mum didn’t deliver the sugar, a bear thumped on our driver’s window with huge muddy paws. I wrote up our adventure in school and got an A+. A writer was born!
At university, I studied science, not English. Tired of academia. I grabbed my doctorate and happily jumped back into the real world, working for a gold mining company and later for the government doing disease investigations. Eventually I studied business and ran my own IT consulting service, all while my husband, Ed and I raised our family of one child and many, many pets.
My work was fascinating: I helped investigate a murder, toured the 3000 foot deep Falconbridge nickel mine and even met the Queen of England (though not all at the same time!) Perhaps that’s why I didn’t start writing seriously until 2002.
I started out writing short crime fiction. My story, “Kill the Boss”, won first prize in the Golden Horseshoe contest held by Crime Writers of Canada. That gave me a great boost and I went on to publish several more stories in e-zines, print and anthologies. I was thrilled when my story, “The Lizard”, won the 2012 Bony Pete prize and when my experimental work, “The Ultimate Mystery”, was a finalist for the 2015 Derringer prize.
But my dream was to pen a novel. I wrote a “learner novel” which now rests in my filing cabinet. Encouragement from a leading literary agent and my writing critique group led me to write a second one. That manuscript was short-listed for the Debut Dagger in 2009 and later for the 2012 Unhanged Arthur Ellis award.
My odyssey to publication is a story in itself: I give regular talks about it to inspire other emerging writers. Seraphim Editions published my debut novel, Windigo Fire, in September 2014. It received glowing reviews from the Globe and Mail and was one of Huffington Post Canada’s choices as a Book for Book Clubs. To be short-listed for the 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel was my dream come true!
I would not have hung in there without the friendship and support of my two literary critique groups. In 2013, we linked up to form The Mesdames of Mayhem, an autonomous collective of 15 established Canadian crime writers. Carrick Publishing has released two collections of our stories, Thirteen and 13 O’clock. Three stories in Thirteen were finalists for the Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards for best short story. And my story, Glow Grass, in 13 O’clock was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novella.
In 2017, The Mesdames of Mayhem, will release their third anthology, Thirteen Claws, our dastardly animal stories.