Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Interview with memoirist Rita Pomade

Memoirist Rita Pomade joins me today to chat about Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.  This is just one stop in a virtual book tour she's doing with WOW - Women on Writing - The Muffin! Full list of tour stops is below.

Rita Pomade, a native New Yorker, first settled in Mexico before immigrating to Quebec.  During her time in Mexico, she taught English at the Iberoamericana University and wrote for Mexico This Month, a tourist magazine located in Mexico City. In later years, she returned to Mexico and wrote articles and book reviews for Mexconnect, an ezine devoted to Mexican culture. She also had a Dear Rita monthly column on handwriting analysis in the Chapala Review, a monthly English language magazine. In Montreal she taught English as a Second Language at Concordia University and McGill University. She is a two-time Moondance International Film Festival award winner, once for a film script about a homeless lady in Montreal, and then for a short story deemed film worthy about a child’s joy in exploring his creativity. Her work is represented in the Monologues Bank, a storehouse of monologues for actors in need of material for auditions, in several anthologies, and in literary reviews. Her travel biography, Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, was shortlisted by Concordia University for the Quebec Writers’ Federation best First Book Award for 2019.

Welcome, Rita. Please tell us about your current release.
Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is the story of a six-year voyage aboard the Santa Rita, a small yacht my husband and I built in Taiwan. Along with my two young sons, we explored parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, dropping anchor in 22 countries. In those days we were one of very few Westerners who made the voyage through that part of the world. In the process, we barely survived a monsoon, encountered real-life pirates, and experienced cultures that profoundly changed us. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey was published by Guernica Editions under the Miroland in 2019.

What inspired you to write this book?
The seed for the memoir was planted thirty years after the journey. I was offered a chance to sail again. In deliberating about the proposition, I became aware of how extraordinary my journey had been, and how it molded and changed me. The passage of time gave a perspective that enriched the voyage I had taken so many years before.

Excerpt from Seeker: A Sea Odyssey:
The book’s prologue details the event that led up to the book’s realization.

P r o l o g u e


“Hey, Bernard, Roland phoned a short while ago. Something about
a friend of his with a yacht in Tunisia that he wants you to sell. He says to
 get in touch with him.”

We’re talking by Skype. Bernard, my ex-husband, lives in Mexico.
I’m in Montreal. We talk almost every day. Skype collapses distances
and there’s no sense that he’s away — just a feeling of expanded space
around me. It’s a good feeling. I show him the cats, go for a coffee, and
take a short phone call. He leaves the computer to grab a snack while
he waits for me to get off the phone. We have an easy relationship,
though it wasn’t always that way.

“Are you interested?” I continue when he’s back in his seat.

“I’m thinking about it,” he replies. “Roland’s already sent me an email.
The guy really wants to get rid of his yacht. She’s a 50-foot ketch and
well-equipped. He’s offering a big commission, but there’s no market
in Tunisia. Tahiti is the place. If the owner is willing, I’m in. Are you
 coming with me? We can do it again. Better this time. Rita?”

I feel the excitement in the way he says my name. Years ago we
sold the ketch he named Santa Rita, but he never lost his love of the
sea, and I am woven into the threads of that love. I’m intrigued by the
 idea, thrilled he wants to go on another voyage with me. In the
 eighties we sailed from Southeast Asia to Europe. Now I’d have a
 chance to explore the Pacific. The offer is tempting.

But I’m not sure. Back then we were dreamers, free-spirited and totally
self sufficient— or so we thought. The rawness of sea life brought out
our strengths, but it also heightened our weaknesses. In the end, I had to
go off on my own. He had to do the same. But those six years at sea
were the most extraordinary and influential years of my life, and I
could never have made the journey without Bernard. Together we
discovered a world we never knew existed.

I think about my creature comforts. How my stomach no longer turn
when I see a squall line move across the sky. How I don’t jerk awake
 every two hours for my turn at the helm. How I don’t have to hustle
for work from port to port or wonder if Bernard could ever love me as
 much as the Santa Rita. I’m happy with my space. Sometimes I lay
 awake at night and think about my good fortune. Yet — to sail again
 — to relive that adventure from a more stable and aware place . . .
My heart wants to say yes, but —

“I don’t know,” I tell Bernard. “Let me think about it.”

I write my childhood friend Gladys about Bernard’s proposal. She’s
 been living in Belgium since her twenties, but we’ve kept in
touch. She writes back saying: “Maybe this will help.”

 In the packet she’s sent me are the letters I mailed her through the
 six years of our adventure. I open the letters, touch the postmarks,
finger the stamps— each gesture a touchstone to memory.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I survived my birth but my mother almost didn’t. Her body identified me as something alien that had to be expelled. This was not conscious on her part. She had toxemia, and I was born in toxic waste, feet first, with the cord around my neck twice. My mother went blind for several months. She was told I had weakened her too much for her to have another child. Why did her body want to reject me? What was her story? What of her story do I carry? Did environment influence my development or was it partially programmed before my birth?  Did passed on trauma have something to do with my being selectively mute? My search for answers led me to epigenetices, a study that deals with memory carried in the genes, especially if there was trauma in the family history.  At eleven years old I had an experience that reset the way I experience the world, and at that point my book ends. The working title of this childhood memoir is Genesis.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was already on my way at six years old. Our first grade class was taken to the school library every few weeks to select a book and write a book report consisting of title, author, and why we liked or didn’t like the book. The books were uninteresting stories that I couldn’t relate to, so I didn’t read them after the first few. Instead I made up a title and an author and then wrote a sentence saying I liked or didn’t like the book. What’s odd is that the teacher never noticed, but I think that started my interest in writing.

Then in the fourth grade I couldn’t sleep through the night. I’d suddenly wake up and be restless, so I took pad and pencil to bed to do something when I woke up. The first night I woke up, I wrote a rhymed poem without any thought, and then fell fast asleep. I did that many times over until I had quite a packet of poems. Still, I didn’t think about being a writer.

In the sixth grade I wrote a poem for graduation. It was given to another child to recite as though it was hers. That’s when I made a conscious decision to be a writer. I wanted to expose that injustice, and others I had witnessed. I felt I didn’t have enough experience, and decided I would go into the world to seek experience so that I could write authentically. And I did.

Do you write full-time?
I don’t write every day, and yet I’m writing all the time. When I’m not seated at the computer, I’m often thinking about my writing. When I read other writers, I’m thinking about my writing. Even when I read the newspaper, my mind is picking up things I suddenly want to write about. And when people tell me things about their lives, I’m thinking what an interesting story that would make. On days I don’t I feel like writing, it’s usually that something is going on underneath, and I just trust that it will germinate and flower on a page.

I do have a ritual when I’m working on something I know I want to publish. It always starts with a warm up such as a bit of journal writing or a poem that comes to me. Then, before I leave the computer, I leave a thread of what I’ll be working on the next day so that I don’t start with a blank page.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I do have a quirk though it’s not very interesting. If I get stuck on how I want to phrase something or words don’t come, I play a few games of spider solitaire. I don’t think about what I’m doing. My mind is blank as I place the cards. I’m completely removed from the writing. I usually do this while having a cup of coffee. Then, for some reason, my mind unglues, and I continue with the writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I loved two comic book characters when I was a child— Wonder Woman and Sheeba of the Jungle. I hoped to grow up and be a combination of the two women routing out injustice and saving the world. I day dreamed this life from my secret home deep in the jungle where I worked out and developed my skills. I assumed I’d get stronger and better at it as I grew older.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Although I had been divorced from my husband for almost thirty years, as a result of my writing Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, we once again live together. Writing the memoir shifted perception and healed wounds.

Rite is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Thanks for visiting today.

Readers, to learn more about Rita, feel free to visit her other tour stops:

June 29th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

July 2nd @ Fiona Ingram's Blog
Visit Fiona's blog and you can read a guest post by the author about how she could have enriched her journey at sea.

July 5th @ CK Sorens' Blog
Visit Carrie's blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade's memoir Seeker.

July 6th @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari L. McCarthy's blog where you can read author Rita Pomade's guest post about what she learned about herself through writing.

July 7th @ The Faerie Review
Make sure you visit Lily's blog and read a guest post by the author about cooking on a shoestring at sea.

July 8th @ Coffee with Lacey
Visit Lacey's blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 10th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise's blog and read her review of Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 11th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette's blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
July 12th @ It's Alanna Jean
Visit Alanna's blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the ten best traits you need for living aboard a yacht.

July 13th @ The New England Book Critic
Join Vickie as she reviews Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 14th @ Bev. A Baird's Blog
Visit Bev's blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 15th @ Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa's blog today where she interviews author Rita Pomade about her book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 16th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit Anthony's blog where he reviews Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 17th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise's blog and read author Rita Pomade's guest post discussing sailing myths.

July 18th @ Author Anthon Avina's Blog
Visit Anthony's blog today and read his interview with author Rita Pomade.

July 20th @ Bev. A Baird's Blog
Visit Bev's blog again and you can read author Rita Pomade's guest post featuring her advice on writing a memoir.

July 21st @ Jill Sheet's Blog
Visit Jill's blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how her handwriting analysis skills made her a better writer.

July 22nd @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra's blog today and you can checkout her spotlight of Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 23rd @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the benefits of spending time abroad.

July 24th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Visit Ashley's blog today where she reviews Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.

July 24th @ Tiggy's Books
Visit Tiggy's blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade's book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. She'll also be chatting a bit with the author!

July 26th @ CK Sorens Blog
Visit Carrie's blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how she jumpstart her writing process.

July 27th @ Memoir Writer's Journey
Visit Kathleen's blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade's book Seeker.

July 28th @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole's blog today where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade talking about stepping outside of one's comfort zone.

July 31st @ Wild Hearted
Visit Ashley's blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about why she jumped at the chance to go to sea.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Interview with contemporary fiction writer Meredith Egan

Novelist Meredith Egan is here today kicking off a new week. We’re chatting about Tide’s End: a just living novel, which is a mashup of contemporary fiction and hopepunk!

That’s right, hopepunk.

During her virtual book tour, Meredith will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Meredith Egan is an author of critically acclaimed novels, Just Living: a novel and Tide’s End: A Just Living novel. The stories are shaped from her work with crime victims and violent prisoners over more than thirty years. Meredith is trained in mediation and peacemaking circles., and has been honoured to learn from many First Nations peoples. Meredith coaches writers and other creative folks and offers workshops and training through her Daring Imagination work.

Meredith is the principal at Wild Goat Executive Coaching where her clients include leaders in the automotive, technology, government and small business fields. She lives at the Groundswell Ecovillage in beautiful Yarrow, BC. with her dog Mollie, and rambunctious feline sisters Firefly and Filigree. For fun she dabbles in cooking soup for her neighbours, and soaking in her hot tub with her four adult children when they visit.

You can find Meredith through her website, and on Facebook and Twitter for information about her novels, and her coaching work. Meredith welcomes opportunities to speak with groups about justice, and writing. Her books are available through Amazon and local bookstores.

Welcome, Meredith. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Taylor Smythe dreams of having a loving family. But first, he has to rescue his little sister Jenny from the gritty underbelly of the child cyberporn industry. Taylor journeys from homelessness in the inner city to a community in the dripping forests of the Pacific Northwest to confront the relentless pounding of his fiercest pain.

Can he become the big brother Jenny needs right now, and for the rest of their lives?

Tide’s End: A Just Living Novel explores the many faces of sexual assault and human trafficking, and how life can shatter for those most affected the victims.

Because #MeToo is more common than we can imagine.
As is #ChildrenToo
And even #BoysToo
It tears apart our families and neighbourhoods.

And wherever there is suffering, there are guardians and helpers who still the relentless pounding to encourage Tide’s End.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been privileged to work with people who are profoundly affected by crime for decades, and to hear their stories of pain, and their struggles to be resilient, to make meaning out of what happened to them. I collected those stories in my heart for years, but they aren’t my stories.

An Elder I worked with encouraged me to think about how I could share what I’ve experienced with the broader community I live in. That inspired me to take some of the fiction I’d been writing and really lean into finishing a novel. And a second.

As a community, we have to get better at helping our neighbours who have experienced trauma, because unhealed trauma affects everyone. And it’s far easier to learn about oppression, and inequality, and addictions – all the difficult parts of life – through fiction, through story, and through experience.

I’m most happy when I encounter a reader who says, “I never thought about that!”

Excerpt from the beginning of the Tide’s End: a just living novel:
Chapter 1
Warming Up

If this is what I have to do to rescue Jenny, I’ll figure it out, I thought as I drove along the dark, narrow roadway. My little sister is worth it, even if I feel like throwing up. Occasionally the overhanging trees dropped massive dumps of water onto my car. Or rather, into my car through rust holes and windows that didn’t seal. Every time there was the thunder of falling water, I ducked.

What the hell have you gotten me into, Marta? I thought, wishing daggers at the social worker who’d sent me here. Crawling further up the driveway, I turned a corner and gasped.

Holy crap, I thought, staring at the building in front of me. I’d stayed in dodgy motels. Run down apartments. But I’d never been in a place like this before.  Ever. In my life. This place was huge, and gorgeous, and knew I wouldn’t fit in. I’d registered for the Survivors of Sexual Assault Retreat, but would it be okay? What would it take to blend?

The money I’d need to pay for the rest of the damned retreat was in my torn duffle. But this looked decidedly upper class, and, well…here I was hoping my junker would make it up the driveway. It’d been my home for the last three months…so not upper class.

Is this really what I need to do to get Jenny back? I’d just turned 19, and getting custody of Jenny Benny, being an epically amazing big brother for a change…that was the most important thing to me. Marta thought I’d better deal with my sexual…history first.

My mind bounced all over. Then it landed on maybe tonight I’ll get warm. Like, to my bones, warm. I smiled.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently I’m working on the third book in this series, Ricky’s Place. It’s about a family struggling with disconnection and the pain that comes from growing up in a dysfunctional home.

The children -  two brothers – Preston, a successful business owner and Butch, his incarcerated brother, along with their younger sister Becky, reunite after 20 years in part because Butch is dying in prison.

Together, they have to figure out how to get along with each other, deal with their mortality, and what it means to be an unlikely hero.

You know, sex, death, and money.

All the important bits of life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing stories as a strategy to deal with all the pain and hurt I learned about through my work. It was exciting to be building a world that I could control! I didn’t think of myself as a writer, however.

I think the first time I shared a story with someone in a writers’ group and they were touched by my writing I started to wonder if I could be a writer.

When I started to receive invitations to speak with other writers, coach writers, and share about my books with book clubs and in libraries I started to really think of myself as a writer. It took years!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full time, and I’m not sure that would ‘work’ for me. I’m definitely an introvert, and if the pandemic has taught me anything it’s that too much alone isn’t good for me…so my work demands that I work with others! I’m a Professional Certified Coach, working with businesses and teams to help them grow, and find “success”, however they define it. Luckily, I have successful clients!

This allows me to balance work and writing, along with spending time in my community (I live in the Yarrow EcoVillage, a co-housing community in British Columbia). It also helps that my four children are all grown and self-reliant!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think of writing as a mutual act of creation – me with my characters. So, often I spend time talking to them, asking what they think about things, and what they’ll do next.

They regularly surprise me when they answer back on the page!

Also, I often listen to podcasts before I write to inspire me. The tone and compassion on My Favorite Murder lifts me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew I wanted to help people. And that I didn’t want to be a nurse (because in the 70s they were terribly treated by the healthcare system), so I decided to be a pharmacist.
It didn’t go so well…after 2 degrees, and about 12 years of work, I changed careers to work in the justice system.

And I learned what I really wanted to do! Help people who’ve been hurt by others…!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love to connect with readers, answer their questions, and find out what they think about the stories I tell. Please reach out to me!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Interview with sports biographer Jonathan Weeks

Today’s special guest is writer Jonathan Weeks to chat with me about his new sports history-biography, The Umpire Was Blind! Controversial Calls by MLB’s Men in Blue.

During his virtual book tour, Jonathan will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, please use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Jonathan Weeks spent most of his life in the Capital District region of New York State. He earned a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, NY. He continues to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures to the present day. He has published several books on the topic of baseball. He would have loved to play professionally, but lacked the talent. He still can't hit a curve ball or lay off the high heat. In the winter months, he moonlights as a hockey fan.

Welcome, Jonathan. Please share a little bit about your current release. 
I’ve written several books on the topic of baseball. This is the first one that focuses almost entirely on umpires. I didn’t realize that there were so many interesting characters until I started doing my research. Tim Hurst was among the most colorful umpires of the early-20th century. Renowned for his nasty temper, he had an unusual way of keeping catchers under control. “Never put a catcher out of a game,” he told a New York Herald reporter. “If the man in back of the bat is sassy and objects to your calling of balls and strikes, keep close behind him while doing your work and kick him every time he reaches out to catch a ball. After about the third kick, he’ll shut up.” Hurst got away with murder for sixteen years, until he finally crossed the line. In 1909, he was fired by American League president Ban Johnson for spitting in the face of Philadelphia Athletics’ infielder Eddie Collins.

What inspired you to write this book?I grew up watching baseball and have seen a lot of bad decisions made by umpires. In 2016, I caught an episode of the HBO series, “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” In this particular installment, a Yale professor named Toby Moskowitz claimed that he had analyzed a million major league pitches over a three and a half year period. The data showed that 30,000 incorrect ball-strike calls are made each season for an overall accuracy rate of about eighty-eight percent. That’s not a very impressive number. I was actually somewhat astounded and decided to explore the topic in greater detail.

Excerpt from The Umpire Was Blind!:
            Let’s face it—umpires are only human.
            For well over a century, the activities on major league baseball fields have been dramatically affected by the flawed decisions of officials. In late-August of 2008, a rule was implemented by commissioner Bud Selig allowing crew chiefs to call for video reviews on questionable home runs. (Video review had been used just once in the majors prior to then—during the 1999 season.) The rule proved beneficial less than a week later when an apparent homer hit by Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees was disputed by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. Crew Chief Charlie Reliford examined the footage and allowed the call to stand.
            From 2008 through 2010, the use of video replay was invoked more than a hundred times, resulting in several dozen overturned home run calls. After much debate, a new regulation was established in 2014, allowing each manager one official challenge per game with a new one being granted each time a dispute is upheld. In addition to home run calls, managers can now challenge a number of other situations, including fair-foul rulings and fan interference calls.
            The use of video replay has served to drastically reduce the number of bitter disputes. John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, remarked: “Gone are the days when a Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella, Sparky Anderson or Earl Weaver could combine cathartic exercise with theatrical relief in disputing an umpire’s judgment call. The modern skipper just signals for the replay booth.”
            Before the advent of video replay, controversy on the field was common. And the face of baseball history was irrevocably altered by the questionable judgments of umpires on multiple occasions. For instance:
--In 1908, a game-winning hit by Giants infielder Al Bridwell was disallowed, ultimately costing the New Yorkers a pennant.
--In the 1985 World Series, an erroneous decision by umpire Don Denkinger helped the Royals to a championship.
--In 2011, umpire Jim Joyce spoiled what should have been a perfect game for Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga when he blew a call at first base on the final out of the game. 
            Legendary Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson once quipped: “Many baseball fans look upon an umpire as a sort of necessary evil to the luxury of baseball, like the odor that follows an automobile.” Defending his own limitations as well as those of his peers, hall of fame arbiter, Billy Evans, contended that: “The public wouldn’t like the perfect umpire in every game. It would kill off baseball’s greatest alibi—‘we was robbed.’” At the very least, umpires are an inescapable necessity. And despite their many faults, they have played an integral role in shaping the game’s past

What exciting story are you working on next? Though I’ve written extensively about baseball, I’m also a hockey fan. I have always wanted to write a book about my favorite team—The Boston Bruins. The project is nearing completion and will be released next year through McFarland Publishers. The current working title is Best of the Bruins: Boston's All-Time Great Hockey Players and Coaches.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I wrote my first short story when I was around nine or ten years-old. Before then, I wrote and illustrated my own comics. I didn’t realize that I had any talent until I got into high school and started getting compliments from my English teachers. I realize now that anyone who writes is technically a writer. But honestly, I didn’t actually feel like a writer until I was holding a copy of my first book in my hands. It was such a proud moment. And it never gets old. I still get really excited when the author copies arrive on my doorstep.  

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write? 
I have a full-time job as a mental health counselor. I write whenever I can. Mornings are usually when the best ideas come to me. I’m an early riser. I get up around 4 or 5 a.m. and start hacking away at the keys while I’m having my first cup of coffee.

Thank you for stopping by today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Interview with novelist Ron Kearse

Novelist Ron Kearse joins me today to chat about his new LGBT, Just Outside of Hope.

During his virtual book tour, Ron will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Ron Kearse lists travelling, photography, art, reading and history as his main sources of inspiration.

An artist, broadcaster, actor, and writer, Ron has a colourful and varied work resumé.

Having lived a nomadic life, Ron has finally settled in Victoria, BC where he lives with his partner James Howard.

Just Outside of Hope is the second installment in the Road Without End Trilogy, he has also published a photo book of Vancouver Street Art in the mid-1980s called Lost History.

Welcome, Ron. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Just Outside of Hope is the sequel to Road Without End, and is the second book in the Road Without End Trilogy. It takes us from the Canadian Prairies to the pubs, bath houses and nude beaches of Vancouver, British Columbia.

The place is Calgary, Alberta in September 1980, and ex-lieutenant Jim Whitelaw is dealing with the guilt he feels from the fall out of a military tribunal that happened only a couple of months before. And, there are lingering family issues which makes things worse. Just as he feels he’s getting his life together, cracks appear once more and he has to make some serious decisions.

Meanwhile, in a matter of a moment, Jim’s friend and sometimes lover, Bert Gilhius, finds himself trapped in a serious situation that eventually sees him set off on new adventures in Vancouver.

These are two more stories in the continuing series of the lives of gay men who lived through the most exhilarating and terrifying of times.

What inspired you to write this book?
The thing that inspired me to write the entire trilogy in the first place, was looking for stories by Canadian Queer writers that featured Canadian Queer characters, and noticing there were almost none. There were lots of American and British Queer authors –– but there was a decided absence of Canadian voices.

At that time, for whatever reason, if you went looking for stories on what it was to be queer in Canada, what you’d find were excellent journalistic books and periodicals filled with facts and figures… but lacking in human insight, and personal experience. So, I wanted to help change that.

Excerpt from Just Outside of Hope:
A fellow rides by on a ten speed. He smiles and says hello to me. I stop and watch him as he disappears around a corner. Goddamn he reminds me of Jim. Jim! I forgot all about him! What a revelation that is, considering how hard I fell for him. I did receive a couple of letters from him since he moved to Winnipeg, and everything seemed to be going okay. I did answer both of them from jail, but then I didn’t receive any more. I don’t know why the letters suddenly stopped, and maybe I never will. It’s too bad; because Jim was one guy I would have done just about anything for had we gotten together.

I walk across the street to my sister’s place, the house I’ve called home since I got out of the slam. The boulevard tree outside of the house is starting to bloom.

I ascend the three steps to the veranda and unlock the door. I’m the only one at home again since Patty and Keith are at work. I take off my shoes and head into the living room. Puddles their cat meows at me as I pass him, and I bend down and give him a few short affectionate strokes on the top of his head.

“Hey Puddles,” I say to him as he purrs. “How has your day been so far?”

I go to the phone to see if any messages were left for me. A small piece of paper is lying beside it. Hopefully this is a job interview.

It says Bert call Warren with a phone number scribbled below. I immediately smile, this is the best news I’ve had in four months. He said he’d phone me when his sentence was through.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve got a couple of “irons in the fire,” as it were.

Firstly, I’m working on the third installment to the Road Without End Trilogy called Last Chance Town. I’m hoping it will be available to the public this autumn.

And I’m in the beginning stages of compiling and editing a second edition of an anthology I edited two years ago called Sharing Our Journeys, Queer Elders Share Their Stories. This new edition will feature the voices of Queer Elders of Colour. I am talking with the folks who published the first anthology and they are very interested in this project. I already have three people who are interested in sharing their stories. So, look for that by the end of next year.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve written all of my life, especially when I wanted to express my emotions. I found writing how I was feeling came so much easier to me than trying to verbalize my feelings. I was encouraged by my teachers in elementary school. They would say things like, “I love your imagination, keep writing.” I always seemed to be a good story teller.

Do you write full time? If so, what is a routine day like?
I do write full-time. I like to get up early, have coffee, check my daily e-mails, and then I’ll turn on the laptop, go to my story, read what I’ve written the day before, and change anything that I feel needs to be changed. It’s then that I can carry on to the day’s writing session.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
While I’m writing, I like to listen to the music that was popular during the time period I’m writing about. So, I’ll create a playlist of songs from that time, for example, a play list from the year 1980. Problem is, if I’m playing music while I’m writing, the music distracts me. So, every so often I’ll stop writing, and listen to a couple songs from the playlist. It gives me the feel I need to carry on writing the story.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I remember wanting to be when I was very young was a doctor. Then, about the time I entered the fourth grade, I wanted to be an actor. I was a teenager in the 1970s when I decided I wanted to be a disc jockey with my own radio show.

Anything additional you want to share with our readers?
Many times, when people find out that I’m a published author, they will say to me things like, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but who would be interested in what I have to say?” My answer is, “You would be very pleasantly surprised.”

Sure, many things may have all been said before, in many different ways…but not by you. I encourage people to write. All it requires of you, is for you to just start writing. And a good way to start is by keeping a journal. That gives you the discipline to make time in your everyday to write.

I’ve found that journaling can also provide inspiration, especially when you have been doing it for several years. I’ve turned to my journals several times, to lift slice-of-life scenes directly out of them, and set them in my novels.


Thank you for being here today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway