Is there a prevalent theme that runs through your
I try to explore at least one new major theme in every
In Gold And Fishes I wanted to look at the need that many
people have to connect with the world in a meaningful way.
When we lack that sense of connection, we may suffer from
feelings of chaos and despair. Conversely, when we feel
connected, terrible tragedies can be overcome.
The Noon God took me down a darker road. In it I hoped to
dissect some of the sad realities of our immediate society:
suicide, addiction and the pressure to measure up to
How do your personal experiences relate to the social
issues that are addressed in your books?
In The Noon God and Gold And Fishes I look at the impact on
individuals of growing up with alcoholism, suicide, the
drive for success and family violence.
It’s fair to say that my life experiences have formed my
understanding of these issues. I grew up in a home that was
impacted by alcoholism and violence. In that situation, many
children learn to repress their natural energies to avoid
being noticed, and self-expression travels inward.
As they grow into adulthood, some people are not able to
unlearn that kind of self-denigrating behaviour. My older
sister, who was also my best friend for seventeen years,
committed suicide at the age of nineteen. The questions
surrounding an event like that never go away, and of course
my work will reflect my own struggle to understand and
How do you come up with your story ideas?
Ideas are everywhere. The problem lies not in coming up with
story ideas, but in sifting through them and envisioning
which ones are strong enough to carry a novel.
Many of your ‘sympathetic’ characters are flawed. Is that
a conscious decision on your part?
You could say that it is a choice, but I think that it is
also a natural development for the characters. Their flaws
are an expression of my own view of the world.
I have never met a person who was perfect. I don’t believe
that I would be comfortable with such a person. In order to
truly value people, we have to first accept their
short-comings, and remember that we have short-comings of
How important is ‘location’ to your work?
Geography is extremely important to me, to the extent that I
have made an effort to learn the languages of the places
where I set my stories.
I consider location to be on a par
with characters and plot as a key element of any story.
At what age did you realise that you needed to write, and
what motivates you to write fiction?
I think that I was around five years old when I started
telling people that I was going to be a writer. From an
early age I have always expressed myself in writing.
Fiction is my passion. I believe that throughout history
every culture has preserved the best, and sometimes the
worst, of its heritage in its art: painting, dance, music,
architecture and fiction.
Is there a spiritual aspect to your work?
I believe there is, although it is largely unintentional. I
am not a deeply religious person, and I sometimes think that
strict religious doctrines work against society in its
struggle to advance.
However, I also recognise that most of us harbour a need to
discover a ‘higher purpose’. The religious expression of any
culture, like its art, rises from a need to understand its
environment within the context of a higher power. These
expressions need to be respected and allowed to develop
In terms of my own characters, the spiritual questions come
into play as they grapple with necessary decisions and
challenges that seem to be beyond their control.
Will Ayla Harris appear in future books?
Yes, down the road she will come back. I’d like to explore
how she would deal with other challenges and settings. I
also wonder how her relationship with Mahdi will develop.
How do you manage your multiple roles as wife, mother,
working woman and author? How do you find time to write?
For me, it’s all about priorities. I love spending time with
my family. It isn’t an option for me to lock myself away in
an attic for months during the creative process.
I’ve developed a system of ‘categorizing’ that seems to
work. When I’m at the office, I focus on my full-time job.
When I’m with my family, I give them my attention.
When I do sit down for those precious hours with my computer
or pen, I focus on productivity. I try to streamline my
characters and plot turns in advance, when I’m driving or
shopping or sitting on the beach, so that when I sit down to
write the pages are ready to flow.
Most writers will agree: you don’t ‘find’ time to write, you
There are several key ‘surprises’ revealed near the end
of The Noon God. Did you plan these in advance, or did they
develop organically as logical elements of the story?
From the moment that I came up with The Noon God I knew both
the title, which has a meaning that I won’t give away here,
and the ending. I saw this story in my mind as a finished
product, the way some artists see their finished canvas
before they have begun to paint. This was an unusual factor
for me in writing the book, and I never deviated from my
Some people have asked me why it is shorter than most of my
works. The only answer that I can offer is that my
character, Desdemona Fortune, had already said and done
everything that she needed to say and do. There was nothing
left to uncover, and anything else would have been
The surprises were very natural. I always knew they were
there, but I chose to withhold the information until the
reader needed to know.
Why do you use protagonists that are based in Canada,
rather than seeking a larger market by basing them
elsewhere, or by obscuring their nationality?
That’s an easy one for me to answer. As an Air Force Brat, I
strongly identify with all regions of Canada. This is a
basic aspect of myself that I cannot hide, nor would I
choose to. As Canadians, we are no less interesting,
cultured, thoughtful or artistic than any other people.
I make no apologies for being Canadian. I hope that my
characters bring a uniquely Canadian understanding to the
page. Furthermore, I believe that our Canadian heritage has
an important contribution to make to the Global society.