Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Meg treads where I have trod.

By R.J. Harlick

What prompted you to use the setting and time period for your latest book or series?

I suppose one could say picking the time period for my series was a no brainer.  While I do like reading books set in earlier times, I’m afraid I am a tad lazy. I was not a particularly good student of history. I’d get my battles all mixed up and my kings. Queens were easy. There was only one, not including the current one and she wasn’t old enough to be included in my history studies. Nor do I have enough insight into the ins and outs of any time period other than the one I am living in.

So in the interest of keeping research to a minimum, I have Meg living in current times. That way I get to draw on my own experiences and whatever events are going on at the time of writing without having to spend much more time than the odd google search.  

I will say though, that I greatly admire writers that know a time period so intimately that they can make it effortlessly come alive in the minds of their readers. Writers like Patrick O’Brian, Dorothy Dunnett or Colleen McCullough to name a few.

Of more importance to me was the setting. I have done a fair bit of travelling and have lived in a variety of countries, so have enough knowledge to write about a number of different places, some more exotic than others. But I decided at the outset, before I’d barely sat down to write my very first words that I wanted to bring my own country alive in my readers’ minds and in particular Canada’s great outdoors.

 I love nature. I love tramping through the woods be it a multi-day hike or an hour’s walk with the dogs. I don’t let the snows of winter slow me down. I strap on my cross-country skis and take to the trails. And in summer, I hop into a canoe and paddle. I love slicing through a mirror flat lake. Going down a rapid-filled river on the other hand is another matter, but you may already know that from Meg’s experiences.

And so I gave Meg Three Deer Point, the kind of cottage I’ve dreamed about, perched on a granite peninsula overlooking a quintessential Canadian shield lake, much like the one near my Quebec log cabin. She spends some of her time, as I do, getting solace from the nature around her.

Occasionally Meg travels, and when she does it is to other Canadian wildernesses, to places I have always wanted to visit, like Baffin Island in Canada’s far north or Haida Gwaii, a group of islands at the western edge of Canada. In the next book she will be travelling to Canada’s sub-arctic, to the Northwest Territories, a land of rock, boreal forests and tundra. A few years ago, I spent twelve days paddling a river through this wild and remote territory.  Though Meg won’t be in a canoe, she will get to know this timeless land the way I did.

I almost forgot to mention some exciting events taking place over the next couple of weeks.

The shortlists for the Arthur Ellis Awards will be announced this Thursday, April 21, across Canada.  Check the Crime Writers of Canada site to find a location near you. I, along with a number of Ottawa authors, will be anxiously awaiting the announcements with readings from our latest books at Chapters Rideau starting at 7:00 pm.

On Saturday April 23 I will be spending the day with Vicki Delany at the Navan Fine Art Fair from 10 am to 4:00 pm at the Navan Curling Club. The day's featured authors, we will be selling and signing our books.

Then next week I will be climbing into a car with 3 other Canadian writers and heading south to one of my favourite conferences, Malice Domestic, to one of my favourite areas, Washington D.C, where I lived for a couple of years. And it's during azalea season. Man, do I love those splashes of vibrancy. My panel, Getting in their Heads: the psychology of murder (isn't that a fabulous topic?) is on Saturday from 10:00 to 10:50.

On the way back the four of us will be stopping in Mechanicsburg PA, to spend a couple of hours discussing our books at the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop. We, myself, Vicky Delany(Eva Gates), Mary Jane Maffini (Victoria Abbott) and Linda Wiken (Erica Chase) will be there on the Sunday from 4:00 pm to 7:00.

It would be wonderful to see you at one of these events.

1 comment:

Susan C Shea said...

See you at Malice! (My panel's Sunday at 10 a.m.)