How long have you been a member of NOWW? Describe your experience serving on the NOWW board.
I’ve been a NOWW member since 2000, the same time I joined the Thunder Bay Writers Guild. I was a board member of NOWW for two years then served as president for three years. I will continue to serve next year as a non-intrusive and hopefully helpful past president. The experience as president came at a perfect time for me because I’d just retired after a 34-year career at Lakehead University and I wanted to do volunteer work. When the NOWW executive asked me to become president, it was an easy decision. NOWW has given me the opportunity to connect with many intelligent and wonderful people both inside and outside of the organization. The board members’ and member volunteers’ willingness to get involved has been exceptional. Had I not joined the Writers Guild and NOWW, I would not have made the friendships that I value so much.
What do you normally write?
That’s a loaded question because right now I consider myself a Jane of all trades and a master of none. My favourite genre to write is creative non-fiction incorporating humour. I also dabble in fiction, i.e., short stories. I have written three novels but they all need work and so if I get the courage, I may rewrite them. This year I decided to enter a play in the local 10X10 contest. My play Golf Lessons (I have a love/hate relationship with golf) was selected for the 2017 Showcase and the actors and director did a terrific job staging it. Ironically, I may be best known in Thunder Bay for the poem I wrote that is etched in granite at the Spirit Garden at the Marina although I don’t consider myself a poet.
Do you have a favourite book or favourite author?
Just one? My favourite book is Stone Diaries by the late Carol Shields set in my favourite city, Ottawa. Years ago I read almost everything James Herriot wrote and even named my last dog, Alfie, after him (Herriot’s real name was Alf Wight). When I lived in England I read everything Angela Huth wrote and had the opportunity to bring her to Exeter to our writers circle to do a workshop. I love to read the work of authors whom I personally know including Charlie Wilkins, Elizabeth Hay, John Pringle and more recently, Jean E. Pendziwol.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to writing:
Thirty or so years ago I read a book by Robert Fulghum called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. That book inspired me to want to write personal essays about every day things. I moved to England for four years and while there took a fiction writing course at Oxford University. When I returned to Thunder Bay I joined the Thunder Bay Writers Guild and the feedback I’ve received from the members has been second to none. Guilders are truly a talented, generous and insightful group of writers. They seem to enjoy my creative non-fiction pieces the most and I enjoy writing them to make people laugh. Before becoming president, I entered the NOWW Writing Contest and in 2012 placed 1st and 3rd in the fiction category. I’ve published stories in local anthologies such as Twenty Years on Snowshoes, Fuel and Fireflies and some literary journals based in England. I often set stories in places I’ve lived such as Ireland or Arizona. Writing is what I do when I’m not being NOWW president, at my exercise class, golfing, connecting with friends or cutting the grass.
Tell us a bit about your writing:
The past three years, my writing has amounted to a piece every four months for the Writers Guild. My last personal essay was entitled The Idiot Box about my life history with television and I had loads of fun writing this piece. A short story I recently wrote was set in Ireland about a Catholic girl who wants to join a Orange Order, i.e., Protestant, marching band. My partner is from Northern Ireland and so I am quite familiar with the relationship and history between the Catholics and Protestants. When I write fiction or non-fiction pieces I always do research, usually via the Internet.
Who has inspired and impacted your writing?
Recently, I’ve read the work of David Sedaris and love how he writes a humorous story about every day happenings. I also enjoy the humour column on the last page of the UK’s edition of Good Housekeeping magazine by Sandy Toksvig who again, writes about everyday things. Because the state of the world right now is not so funny, if what I write makes someone smile or even laugh, I feel as if I am doing a good thing.
Will we see you at any upcoming NOWW events?
I attended the launch of Twenty Years on Snowshoes on September 5th. Also, I will be organizing and attending the upcoming memoir workshop with Joe Fiorito on November 4th. I participated in his workshop years ago at the Sleeping Giant Writers Festival and it was terrific. I enjoy his writing and if you haven’t read, The Closer We are To Dying, I highly recommend it.
Where can we learn more about you and your writing?
I have a story in the NOWW anthology, Twenty Years on Snowshoes. I am not particularly savvy when it comes to having a platform, i.e., website or Twitter and my Facebook page is more personal than writing-related. Every year I attend the Tucson Festival of Books and all the presenters keep stating that to make it in the world of writing you must have a platform. Not there yet. Maybe this year as I segue from president to past president.
And to end things off, tell us something surprising about yourself!
In 1997 I attended the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and in 1998, ran the London Marathon. That is two. Never been very good with numbers and that is why I’m a writer. J