Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself...
I feel blessed to be living on a lake in northern Canada where the beauty of nature abounds. Nature and beautiful landscapes have always inspired me. I was born in England, and emigrated to Canada with my family when I was three years old. I have always had a passion for reading and writing, and eventually earned a diploma in writing and journalism. In my younger years, my main focus was on being a wife, and mother to my four children. Family has always been important to me. Once the children had grown, I began to apply myself more seriously to writing. 'Between Earth And Sky' is my debut novel. I am also interested in everything pertaining to history. If I weren't a mother turned author, I might have considered pursuing a career in archeology.
What first inspired you to start writing?
I developed an interest in words at a young age. My mother gave me a box of plastic letters that you could link together, and she taught me the phonetic sounds for each letter. I played with those letters for hours, inventing words. In my sleep, I sometimes dreamed about letters floating freely in the sky, then coming together to form words. The letters were in beautiful colours, and sometimes they even sparkled. When I started school, my teacher had me stand up and read three words she had printed on the chalkboard. The three, little words formed a sentence, and the teacher told me I was now reading. I was so elated! My fascination with reading and writing grew from there, and it has followed me all through my life. My first attempt at writing a novel happened when I was ten years old. It was titled 'Mystery At The Old Kent House'. I still have it tucked away in a box somewhere with a lot of other snippets of writing I have written through the years.
What made you want to work with Rowanvale and get published?
I chose Rowanvale because I like the way they do things. The testimonials from other independent authors who worked with them were very positive, and I believed this was a company I could trust. I appreciate the fact that Rowanvale offers the author direct contact with the people who are working on their book. The team takes time to get to know the author and to listen to the vision the author has for their project, helping them create the publishing package they are looking for. Rowanvale affords the author ample opportunities to make changes throughout the publication process, and nothing is done without the author's approval. I also appreciate how Rowanvale helps to promote the author's work by making it visible and readily available for readers to order online.
When you're not writing, what are you reading?
I enjoy reading books steeped in history. One of my favorite authors is Jean M. Auel. I devoured her 'Earth's Children' series. Her stories inspired me to try new approaches in my own writing. Another author who I truly admire is Beverly Lewis. She is such a prolific writer. I love the way her descriptive scenes come alive on the page, drawing the reader into each setting, making you feel as though you are right there with all her characters. Both these writers have a wonderful way of bringing historical fiction to life.
Which work are you most proud of?
I am proud of my debut novel, 'Between Earth And Sky'. It took many years of research and investigative work to complete this story. It began with the threads of information I gathered from my father when I was growing up. I needed to build upon those bits of knowledge to create the full narrative. I managed to obtain my father's military record from overseas, and then I scoured old photographs of my father during the war with a magnifying glass to glean other scraps of relevant information. His story was like a puzzle with many pieces missing, so I began an extensive study of the Polish peoples' WWII experience through books and information online. The personal accounts of Polish survivors' written in diaries and other sources proved to be very enlightening. Pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place, until the full picture was revealed. The same sordid details of the Poles' plight kept reoccurring, and I knew I needed to tell their story, not just for the sake of telling it, but to put it back in the pages of history. Details of these little-known facts had been covered up for years. It is a story of horror, hardships, and suffering, yet in spite of the devastating gloom, moments of humour, joy, and hope continued to persist among the Polish people. When I began writing 'Between Earth And Sky', I intended it to chronicle my father's life. However, as my research led me further into the history of my father's people, I discovered there were many more layers to this tale. The story needed to include the harrowing details of what happened to the other Polish citizens in Eastern Poland who suffered at the hands of the Soviets when the Red Army marched in and occupied their land in 1939. I wrote the story as a fictional piece through the lives of the two main characters, Jozef and Lilyana, but it is based on authentic historical facts. The strength, courage and endurance of those who lived to tell the tale, is truly inspirational. I feel honoured to bring their story to light, and I hope I have done the story justice.
What's your best advice for handling writer's block?
When I encounter writer's block, I find it best to set the project aside for a time and come back to it later on. Instead of stressing over getting it done, I try to step away and return to my work renewed, with fresh ideas and perspectives. The flow of the writing comes easily then.
What's one thing you always have with you when you're writing?
I prefer doing things the old-fashioned way. I keep a dictionary and a thesaurus by my side when I am writing. I also keep a pen and paper on hand to scribble down ideas as they pop into my head. My special place to write is in my sunroom where I have a magnificent view of the surrounding woodlands and the lake. With a tall mug of herbal tea, and settling into my comfy chair, I can write for hours in these beautiful surroundings.
What is one book you would take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
That is a difficult question to answer. I can think of many books I would like to have with me. However, I couldn't live very long on a desert island without reading one of Beverly Lewis's Amish stories. Her colourful characters have a way of coming to life, and they would help me feel as though I were not alone on that island. If possible, I would like to have all of Beverly Lewis's books with me, but then it would be a very crowded island with so many of her characters joining me there!
What is the best part about being an independently published author?
Being an independent author, you don't have to sign over all your rights to the publisher. You can maintain control over your work, and what happens to it down the road. For example, suppose your story gets picked up to be turned into a movie or Netflix series; you will have more leverage in how the story is portrayed on film.
What is next for you?
I have begun to work on Andrea's story. This is a true account of a little girl who was diagnosed in utero with physical anomalies so severe, the specialists believed she would never go to term. She did reach term, but her chances of survival at birth were so slim, nothing was done for her, other than being administered palliative care. Her life's journey is remarkable, filled with drama, struggles, and never-ending hope. This is a very personal story for me. Andrea is my daughter. I think it will be inspirational, and it will encourage people who are going through difficult circumstances to never give up no matter how devastating the odds may seem.