What gave you the idea to make your most recent book?

When I finished writing Jacob’s Landing there was always a question in my mind about what happened to Jacob’s birth mother? So, the door was always open for me to explore that in the sequel (also a stand-alone) in Jacob’s Dilemma.

Do you think there is value in fiction set in the Maritimes?

Absolutely. We live in such a rich area with so much potential for wonderful stories to be set here. When I wrote Jacob’s Landing which is set in Newport Landing, NS one reviewer wrote ‘While the fish-out-of-water/ mi familia loca trope is nothing new, the requisite “new-things-per-page” that makes a novel interesting is all right there, includes new landscapes – this book is set in the tiny village of Newport Landing, Nova Scotia, and now I have nineteen other reasons to pop over to Nova Scotia one summer. It sounds amazing.’

Was any character the most fun or most difficult to write?

Pearl and Frank were so much fun to write because everything they say is unfiltered, funny and raw. I had to work harder with Jacob because of course I had to tap into how a 13-year-old boy might navigate his situation. I raised four girls so I don’t have first-hand experience with boys. Had to really follow my gut on this one.

How long have you been working on Jacob's Dilemma?

I wrote it a few years ago while I was working full time. It usually takes me a good year to get a good first draft written because it’s written in spurts of time. I belong to a wonderful writing group. When we meet we typically bring a chapter to read out loud for feedback. I signed a contract for Jacob’s Dilemma two years ago with the publication date set for the Spring of 2023.

What do you hope people get from your work?

I hope readers feel as though they’ve experienced a taste of living in rural Nova Scotia. I hope they enjoy a laugh, an emotional tug on the heart and take something away that helps them better understand the connection we all have which is to be seen, heard and loved just the way we are.

What are some of your favourite books/authors?

We have lots of Nova Scotian authors that are amazing writers like, my writing friend Lisa Harrington who is the queen of dialogue and extremely funny. Laura Best, JoAnn Yhard, Nicola Davison, Alexander Harrington to name a few. I love everything that Susin Nielsen writes. I lOVED the book called ‘So be it,’ by Sarah Weeks and ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’ by Katherine Paterson. I love good emotional stories and I’m a sucker for happy endings so I have to throw in Lesley Crewe as well.

When did you start writing?

I started writing twenty years ago when I was trying to find a book for my cousin’s son who was having a hard time understanding his older brother who lives with Autism. When I couldn’t find one that spoke to his needs, I decided to write one myself and then was hooked. But I quickly learned that it’s one thing to like to write, it’s another thing to know how to write. There were a few things about crafting a story that I had to learn along the way.

What is the best and/or worst writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

The best writing advice was from my uncle Robert MacNeil; the former anchor of the PBS MacNeil – Lehrer News hour. He suggested that I take some writing courses to help fine tune my writing. Joining the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia was the best thing I ever did because it set me on my writing path and lead me to some wonderful writing friends. Learning the art of ‘showing vs telling a story’ was my biggest lesson. I’m not sure I ever received bad advice.

What is your favourite genre to write? Do you want to try writing in other genres?

I find this tricky to answer because while I tend to write about family dynamics my stories get labelled as middle grade or young adult but they are enjoyed by adults as well. My oldest reader was 101 and my youngest was seven. One of these days I might attempt to write what would be considered an ‘adult’ book.

What is an unpopular book you like and a popular book you dislike?

I can’t think of a specific title and nor would I want to throw an author under the bus but I have attempted to read books that have won big awards and I have found them some what ‘chewy’ to read and they’ve left me wondering what all the hype was about.

Tea or coffee?

I enjoy my morning coffee but enjoy tea as well, but coffee is my go to in the am.


January 15, 2024 — Vonda Hazzard

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