Vancouver Island on the west coast
of British Columbia, Canada.
Good morning, Sharon, and welcome back to Vision and Verse. Can you tell us a little about what you've written?
Island Charms, Murder At The Island Spa and (coming soon) Murder on Quadra Island in the Island cozy mystery series.
Old Shadows, New Murder, and (contracted and coming soon) Murder Is Handy in the Boarding Kennel cozies.
Five Can Keep A Secret—a mystery/suspense.
Escape To Mulligan Lake—a romantic suspense.
Prairie Dreams contains three romance novellas set in the historical western prairies.
I have also published three collections of short stories—A Baker's Dozen Romances, A Baker's Dozen Flash Mysteries, and Front Porch Shorts, a collection of short humor starring the escapades of a small town couple approaching retirement age.
I have just completed the first draft of a mystery set in the 1950s (working title is Ask Me No Questions, #1 in Those Killer Fifties) and am plotting the fourth in the Island mysteries.
Wow! You've been a busy girl! What is your favorite genre to write?
My first publications were historical romance centered in the western plains of the last century, but I think cozy mysteries have captured my heart. I'm happiest when I can combine the three elements in one story—mystery, romance and humor.
Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and herbal tea in the evening.
Pizza or ice cream?
Hmmm. That's tough, but let's give in to my sweet tooth and say ice cream, especially if it's maple walnut.
Wine or beer?
White wine, but I wouldn't turn down a dark rum now and again.
Where would you like to visit?
Almost everywhere. I had my trip of a lifetime to the UK last year but I'd love to go back and I also want to see more of Europe—France, Germany, Italy. I want to go to Tanzania on a camera safari and take the balloon ride over the Serengeti Plain and see Olduvai Gorge where Mary Leakey found homo habilis. I want to visit Australia and New Zealand. Oh and I want to see the Inca ruins in Peru. The only place I don't want to go is Antarctica. I've spent too much time and energy fleeing west to escape the prairie cold.
Favorite musical artist.
Loreena McKennett. I love her Celtic ballads; she has such a hauntingly beautiful voice. I also like folk music from the 60s— now that dates me. And I could listen to Gershwin, especially Rhapsody in Blue, forever.
Do you listen to music when you write? What?
Sometimes, but I can't listen to anything with lyrics as it distracts me, so I keep background music as instrumental only. I like soft jazz.
What makes you laugh?
I loved the old television variety shows. Carol Burnett and her troupe kept me in stitches—how can you not laugh at Tim Conway? I'm a fan of British sit-coms, especially As Time Goes By with Judi Dench. In books, I enjoy the humor of Stuart McLean.
North Shore Lake Superior by Lawren Harris.
How old were you when you started writing?
I was an only child growing up on a farm, so I did a lot of make believe in my head, but didn't begin writing it down until I was in high school. Then life stepped in and writing got sidetracked until years later.
Describe your perfect evening.
A walk along the ocean, possibly a bonfire, then home to a social evening with close friends (I love playing canasta), then a quiet read before bed. I'm not much of a party animal.
Where do you get your inspiration?
From family and friends, people-watching, stray tidbits of conversation, then a follow up of "what if?" For Autumn Dreams, I called on the experience of my two aunts, both one-room school teachers in the 1940s. For Acres of Dreams, I started with the story of my grandmother who was sent to Canada from Ireland in the 1890s to find a suitable husband. After the original premise, it's all fiction, of course. For my mysteries, I start with a victim and surround him or her with suspects who combine traits of real and imagined people. In all cases, it's the "what if?" that starts the plot.
What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I usually have more than one project going at a time, so if I run into a wall on one, sometimes it helps to switch to another, especially in a different genre. If I'm really blocked, I don't fight it—I give in and take some time off. It never lasts. It's amazing how a walk with your dog or watching a hockey game with your grandson will clear the cobwebs away.
Who is your favorite author?
Agatha Christie, hands down! I've read all her mysteries several times each and her short stories and the novels she wrote under the name of Mary Westmacott. I think my favourite is Come Tell Me How You Live, which details her life experience, mostly on the archaeological digs with her husband Max Mallowan.
That opinion changes on a regular basis but right now Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale springs to mind. It was years ago that I read it but now it's coming back again with the release of the series based on her book. For some reason dystopian stories seem to stay in my mind the longest. Ayn Rand is unforgettable as are Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.
Last book you read.
Next, an autobiography by Gordon Pinsent.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I would be an archaeologist. I love history, especially pre-history and I can easily picture myself on a dig with bucket and spade, toothbrush and ice-pick, digging away in the hot sun.
Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
Probably my mother. She's no longer with me, but I often hear her voice in my head when I'm looking for advice on what to do. She had a very strict sense of ethics and values and I know I often fall short, but her influence is still there.
If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
That would be Richard III. He has to be the most interesting historical figure, reviled by Shakespeare (who was well aware in Tudor times on which side his bread was buttered) and supported centuries later by his own fan club of Ricardians. Was he saint or sinner? Heartless murderer or maligned scapegoat? I would like to look him straight in the eye and ask him if he knew what became of Richard and Edward, the princes in the Tower.
Do you have a pet?
This is my muse—Clio, my ShihTzu, named after the Muse of History.
What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
My first reaction would be 'Don't'. It can be painful and heartbreaking. But the rewards do outnumber the downsides. You'll never feel alone with all the conversations going on in your head, you'll never be bored, and you have control over how your stories unfold. I would add— write only if you love it and don’t feel you're a whole person without it. You have a one in a million shot to make a living at it. But while most people only get one life to live, you get as many as you can invent.
Do you have some links for us to follow you?
Amazon author page-https://goo.gl/CR3Btv