Why I Wrote This Book: Issue #11

Featuring Anne Baldo, Ida Linehan Young and Chuck Bowie

Why do your favourite Canadian authors write the books they write? Let’s find out in this exclusive feature here at The Miramichi Reader.

Anne Baldo, Author of Morse Code for Romantics (Porcupine’s Quill Oct. 2022)

Photo of Anne Baldo

For most of my life, I loved the idea of creating stories. Before I could print, my mother sat patiently with me, writing down the words to stories I’d drawn with crayons. Later, I filled notebooks and typed hundreds of pages of pretty terrible stories about vampires, cats, and Nancy Drew knockoffs.   

This was both a love and an escape, through my teen years, into university. I began seeing some of my words actually in print. Seeing what I’d written in real magazines like Lichen and Carousel (after of course, many rejections), amidst the work of other writers, felt incredibly unreal.  

As I moved through my twenties, I began writing and reading less, occupied with different jobs in different fields, and the details of daily life. It wasn’t until I became a mother, at twenty seven, that I really returned to writing.  

Within two and a half years I had two children under three. I found myself awake most nights, and increasingly anxious. My sense of unease led to sleeplessness and insomnia fed my disquietude. For the first time since university, I read extensively again. I watched seven seasons of Mad Men. I started shopping, excessively, on Etsy, accumulating craft materials for art projects I would never begin, let alone finish, and an extensive collection of baby headbands my daughter refused to wear. Looking for a way to cope with isolation and anxiety, and to stay off Etsy, I sat down one night and started writing again. 

Working on these stories, reading the thesaurus to find the perfect word, rewriting a sentence a dozen times, became first an outlet for the lack of control I felt in real life, the strange fears, the loneliness and all my various obsessions, and finally a collection of short fiction, Morse Code for Romantics.  

Ida Linehan Young, author of The Room Upstairs (Flanker Press, April 2023)

Picture of Ida Linehan Young

The Room Upstairs was a fun project to stretch my writing imaginings as I test the waters of the speculative world. What I thought would be fun, certainly was that, but what I thought would be easy, certainly wasn’t.

I must confess, I don’t plot. I write into the abyss waiting for steppingstones to appear when I need to move my pen-footing forward toward the ending I have in mind. In my novels I’d write several scenes and research until something fit my needs to fill the blinking “feed me” with authentic historical pieces that I’d mold for story evolution.

With The Room Upstairs, there was none of that. The story was in my head with no ending waving “over here”. I wrote until the stone didn’t appear, the next leap was missing, and that was scary. The abyss blinked a “what’s next” and I questioned why I’d started it in the first place. But I was determined that “what’s next” would not get the better of me. I reread the story for trigger points and that got me five-hundred words give or take five hundred words repeated many times. Fingers drummed but not on the keyboard.

My aha moment – I was afraid to let my readers down. A wise woman said not everyone liked historical fiction or memoir. I knew that. I love dragons, lore, murders, romance, sci-fi, etc… I listened to the wise. I wasn’t falling on my proverbial sword, I was overcomplicating things. Simple was as fine as the complex. The stone appeared, first a pebble of incite, then another, and I wrote furiously to the end.

Will I do it again? Probably … with dragons maybe.

I love challenges. That’s why and how The Room Upstairs (April 2023) came into being. My brain is exhausted, in a good way. What’s next? Blink. Blink. 

Chuck Bowie (Writing as Alexa Bowie), Author of Death Between the Decks

Picture of Chuck Bowie

There I was, writing suspense-thrillers when an idea came over me. What if I wrote a story about a fish out of water, a big city girl who was obliged by circumstance to return to the East Coast small town she’d been born in, but to which she had never belonged? Could she possibly find her place in such a community, the same town I had grown up in? 

As I started the series, it occurred to me that it would be the community—the greater Miramichi area—that would play a large role in the creation of the character, or the overall feel of the story. I wanted the fictional town of Newcastle to be in essence a character within the novels. The first two novels: Death Between the Walls and Death Between the Tables presented Emma, the eccentric artists inhabiting the Arts and Culture centre, and the quirky crimes swirling around Emma and her circle of new friends.  

It was so much fun, developing the back story and introducing the characters of the town, but there is so much to reveal in the town. Book One, The Walls, spoke to secrets from the past and the fishing camps along the Miramichi. Book Two, the Tables, revealed what happens when people in authority abuse that power. 

In Death Between the Decks, or as I like to call it: Lawyers and Lobster Boats, I took the opportunity to explore how a community of interest: lawyers, could develop a wall of silence in the face of a dark crime. As well, I became excited to offer up a snapshot of the fishing industry. And as an aside, what would a young woman do if a vulnerable teen needed a guardian? 

I had to write the story. 

The truth is, authors can fall in love with their characters. When that happens, the author (and the readers) ask: ‘What next? What is Emma up to now? Who dies next? And…how will Emma solve this next crime? 

Death Between the Decks is now available on Amazon, both as an eBook and in Paperback. 

1 thought on “Why I Wrote This Book: Issue #11”

  1. As an author of thrillers, I suspected it would be challenging to write a cozy mystery. I was correct, in one respect because I was writing a female protagonist (and Thank You, Editor Lois Williams for your support in this regard.) But it was fun and rewarding, and initial reviews have been lovely. Thank you Miramichi Reader, for permitting me to chat about Death Between the Decks.

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