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I’m the eldest of three daughters, which makes me the bossy one. We grew up on a farm about an hour up the Fraser Valley from Vancouver. This might suggest to you that I was a hippie, but no, the hippies lived next door. We weren’t that interesting. We did eat homemade bread (tragedy to a girl whose school friends all had bought bread) and home-canned fruit, but I took those delicacies for granted.
I think I was meant to be a flower child, though. I loved the idea of reincarnation from the moment I learned of it – probably because it was introduced to me through a romance novel. The title escapes me, but from that book I explored Edgar Cayce and vegetarian foods and I still occasionally read the tarot cards I bought when I was young and impressionable. Because, you know, sometimes you need more guidance than your horoscope provides.
Given this new-agey bend, one of my first writing efforts featured a heroine who owned a health food store. The rejection on that manuscript is my favourite of all that I’ve received. The editor “didn’t find it believable that a woman could make a living owning a health food store.” I’ll pause while you recover from choking on your organic acai berry juice.
Despite my grassroots – I ate sprouts! – I was inexplicably drawn to glitzy romance novels. It must have been those wickedly sexy alpha males. Who can resist them? The attraction boggled my father. I bought Harlequin Presents six for a dollar at the used book store. I’d consume them after school and rush them back the following weekend for another load. One day my Dad asked me why I was always buying them and I said, “I want to paper my bedroom walls with the covers.” He was one of those handymen who had a small coronary if you poked a hole in the fresh paint so this nearly put him over the edge, but I was just having fun.
Telling tall tales comes from my grandmother. She also loved a good romance. She generally preferred the fat historicals, which my mother cycled to her and I then gulped down like a boa constrictor swallowing a capybara. My grandmother wasn’t a retired granny in a rocker with a book though. That was just her downtime around gardening, which was her passion. I can relate, always appreciating my stolen moments with a book between leaving work and going home to write, when I sit and wait for my son to finish rugby practice.
Being an author always seemed a bit lofty for farm stock like me, though. It made me feel like John Boy from The Waltons, stepping beyond the safe little world in Walton’s Mountain. (Trivia: the actress who played Mary Ellen was briefly my neighbour.) The feeling of climbing above my station might have contributed to my taking twenty-five years to sell my first book. I also had many distractions along the way: a husband and children (one of each) and a day job.
I often tried turning writing into my day job by taking employment that at least involved typing: office work, newsletter writing, technical manual preparation, and newspaper articles. In May of 2012, I sold to Harlequin Mills & Boon.
As I write this, I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of that call and I’ve signed contracts for a total of eight books since then. It’s been a fabulous whirlwind of learning how to write bigger, better, faster while juggling the new world of reaching out to readers, revisions, and, oh yes, still finding myself distracted by that husband and kids and day job. Did I mention, like my grandmother, I also enjoy gardening?
I love to travel, too. I have family in Australia and have been there a few times. We had a family vacation to Florida a year ago and friends in Spain keep inviting us to visit. But maybe that itch comes from Jupiter sitting in my house of travel, teasing me to look far and wide.
Either way, I have a few books to finish first. Let me know if you have any special requests.