- What gave you the idea to make your most recent book? The Pregnant Pause is my semi-autobiographical debut novel, which I self-published in 2017. I was looking for a lighthearted novel about motherhood indecision and couldn’t find any, so I decided to write one. I’m thrilled that Vagrant Press is rereleasing it with a fresh new cover.
- Do you think there is value in fiction set in the Maritimes? A resounding yes! Maritimers (all Atlantic Canadians, actually) have an innate ability to laugh at themselves in the face of adversity, which is a special trait that makes for great storytelling. Also, the natural landscapes in our provinces are stunning and provide compelling background settings.
- Was any character the most fun or most difficult to write? Rose Ainsworth, the main character of The Pregnant Pause, was based on my personal experiences, so writing her was both fun and difficult. Generally, though, the more quirky and mouthy a character is, the more fun they are to write—Betty Zinck and Eric Morash in my second novel, Fishnets & Fantasies, are prime examples. And May Ainsworth, in my third novel, Lost & Found in Lunenburg (coming this fall!), is another one.
- How long have you been working on it? I wrote the first draft of The Pregnant Pause in 2003. Then, after a negative experience with a literary agent in the U.K., I stuck the manuscript in a drawer for 14 years before deciding to self-publish it.
- What do you hope people get from your work? With all of my novels, I am to educate and entertain. Not to shock or scare—there’s enough stuff happening in the real world to give us nightmares.
- What are some of your favourite books? Canadian: Carol Shields, Lesley Crewe, Amy Spurway, Ali Bryan, Paul Quarrington. British: Richard Osman. Swedish: Fredrik Backman.
- Do you listen to music when you write? No. In fact, it is imperative that I write in total silence. My husband is not allowed to speak to me. Or breathe loudly. Or make eye contact.
- What is a book that you think is underread/underappreciated? Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time. It never fails to make me cry, but for all the right reasons.
- When did you start writing? I’m in my 50s, so I always wrote letters to my family in Nova Scotia when I lived in Toronto in my 20s—collect phone calls were expensive, and there was no Internet (gasp!). I started writing seriously in 1989, at age 21, during my first year of journalism school at the University of King’s College.
- What is the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? I took a fiction-writing workshop in 2018, and one of the instructors said, “Weather is setting.” So in Fishnets & Fantasies, I added a good old Nova Scotia tropical storm. In the same workshop, I was told to apply for every writing competition I could, so I submitted The Pregnant Pause to the national Whistler Independent Book Awards, and it was shortlisted!
- What is your favourite genre to write? Do you want to try writing in other genres? Humour, 100 per cent of the time! All of my novels are funny. They’re my favourite books to read, too (see the above list of authors for proof). I'm planning to write a fourth novel, a “cozy” (read: not gory) murder mystery, but it’ll be funny like my other books, ‘cause that’s the way I roll.
- Tea or coffee? Weekday mornings: decaf green tea, clear. Weekend mornings: a two-cup pot of orange pekoe, milk in mug first like Gram taught me. Coffee has never touched my lips (I get my caffeine from my daily dark-chocolate habit), but I do love the smell of it.
As legislators and bigots strive to take away books and rewrite history, we need to make sure that we know it and tell it. We cannot let people control the way we read art, nor can we allow the lie to persist that any of this is new. Achilles and Patroclus were lovers. Carmilla is the Sapphic queen of gothic literature. James Dean, the icon of cool for a generation, was bi.
Hello, my name’s Brent. I’m the tall dude at the bookstore who looks like the lovechild of Yahtzee Croshaw and Ethan Hawke. Grew up in rural Ontario, taught English in rural Japan, and now I work in a bookstore while tinkering with my own fiction. I expect Hallmark to pull a Zane Grey for copying their plotlines with the broad strokes of my life.