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 to a spot where tourists were hand-feeding the bears candy bars. (Even as a kid, I knew this 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 leaped back into the real world, first 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, 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 mags 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 That manuscript was short-listed for the Debut Dagger in 2009 and later for the 2012 CWC Best Unpublished Novel award.
My odyssey to publication is a story by itself: I give regular talks about it to inspire 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 CWC 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 and Messieurs of Mayhem, an autonomous nation-wide collective of 25 emerging and established Canadian crime writers, publishers, book sellers and film makers. Carrick Publishing has released five collections of our stories, Thirteen , 13 O’clock , 13 Claws , In the Key of 13 and our latest, The Spirit of 13 in September, 2022.
Three stories in Thirteen were finalists for the Derringer and CWC awards for best short story. And my story, Glow Grass, in 13 O’clock was nominated for the CWC Award for Best Novella. 13 Claws hit it out of the park with no less that four nominations, including the 2018 CWC winner. I was delighted to have my long story, Snake Oil, nominated for Best Novella. In 2019, one of our stories in In the Key of 13 was nominated for a Derringer award.
In 2018, I had two short stories published: “The Cry” in Mystery Weekly Magazine and “The Seeker” in the noir anthology, The Dame Was Trouble. And in 2019, my domestic noir, “Brainworm”, appeared in the Mesdames’ latest anthology, In the Key of 13.
Despite Anno Horribilis, otherwise known as 2020, Carrick Publishing brought out A Grave Diagnosis, a crime fiction anthology with a medical slant. What prescience! My story, “The Eternal Bakery of the Fractal Mind”, is another crossover into speculative fiction. In 2021, I was honored to have my story, “The Moon God of Broadmoor”, be part of the anthology, Moonlight and Misadventure.
I had a good year as a writer in 2022 with the publication of two stories and one novella. My long story / novella in the Mesdames anthology, In the Spirit of 13, again features my beleaguered civil servant, Dr. Benjamin Amdur. In “Amdur’s Ghost”, he investigates the disappearance of the Medical Officer of Health in the most obscure and most poorly funded health department in Ontario. A self-proclaimed medium warns him about a yellow dog and finds out he should have listened.
At the end of 2022, I had two marvelous surprises. My comedy thriller story, “Must Love Dogs – or You’re Gone”, was published in Gone, a noir anthology by Red Dog Press, Stephen J. Golds, ed. My very first British publication! Only 30 stories out of more than 200 submitted made the cut. And my Danny Bluestone short story, “Last Island”, was featured on the cover of the November issue of Mystery Magazine!
In 2023, “Amdur’s Ghost” was short-listed for the CWC Best Novella Award and “Must Love Dogs” for Best Short Story. What a terrific honor! This year, thanks to Carrick Publishing, I brought out the second collection of my short stories, Snake Oil and other Tales, with a terrific book cover by designer, Sara Carrick.
I’m working on Windigo Ice, the sequel to Windigo Fire; three novellas and of course, more short fiction. I look forward to reconnecting with fellow authors at Left Coast Crime and at When Words Collide in 2024.