Do you ever read the bio of someone and think, "I just have to ask them some questions?" That's what happened when I read Mary's bio - not only is she the author of Winds of Change, she is also an editor and writer for her day job.
Find out more about her through the interview below and feel free to leave comments, she would love to answer any questions you have.
Hi Mary, thanks so much for doing this interview. Could you please tell us a little about your book?
I wanted to write about a woman in her 50s facing a very uncertain future after the death of her husband and only child in a plane crash. Writing Winds of Change allowed me to explore some of the issues surrounding loss and how people move forward with their lives in the face of such a catastrophic change just when they thought things were going well. At the same time, I explored another loss – the loss of a parent to Alzheimer’s.
The book is set five years after Jennifer loses her husband and daughter and as her father’s Alzheimer’s is slowly taking him away. She isn’t even thinking about dating when she meets Ben Powell, who is the father of one of her social work clients (don’t worry, the conflict of interest is properly resolved). As she gets to know him and sees him dealing with PTSD following many years of covering wars and conflict, she realizes there is room in her heart for new love.
As one reviewer wrote, “this is a love knot waiting to be tied.” And it really is. There are two couples, one older and one younger and a feisty little boy who is hoping for a father. I won’t add any spoilers, but another reviewer warned readers to have a box of tissues handy. It had that effect on me a couple of times but I have to say that, overall, this book is very uplifting and inspiring. I believe in happy ever after endings and strong characters.
Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but yes. My father served in World War II and came home damaged, physically and emotionally. He had what we now know as PTSD – Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. As I researched for the book and wrote it, I realized I was coming to terms with his demons. In my third novel, I also addressed Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), again realizing my father had those too and developed true sympathy for what he had to endure for his short 49 years. It has been very cathartic, I can tell you.
Who is your biggest supporter?
That’s so easy. My beloved husband of 34 years is a one-man fan club. He is so thrilled to tell people both his wife and daughter are published authors. He always gets a chuckle when I tell him something that’s happening to one of my characters, as if I was talking about the neighbor next door.
What cause are you most passionate about and why?
I am passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. I’ve been able to express that through a volunteer group I founded in the city near where I live. It’s called Not Just Tourists – Ottawa (Canada). For the past almost nine years, our group has collected surplus medical supplies and medicines to send to countries in need. We have now sent suitcases of supplies to almost 30 countries around the world through tourists, medical missions and community development groups. We are also helping other groups fill ocean containers with supplies going into conflict zones. It’s my husband’s retirement project and he loves it.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the fourth novel in the Look to the Future series, while promoting the first three: Winds of Change, New Beginnings and Road to Tomorrow. The story will center around a woman whose lawyer son is siphoning off funds to feed his gambling addiction. Meanwhile, her daughter is going through a nasty divorce and her teen granddaughter has issues with “everything.” I think it’s going to be very interesting helping this family deal with its issues!
Do you have any advice for writers?
Go for it! When I look around Goodreads and Twitter, I often see “aspiring writing” or “amateur writer”. Guess what? Now is the time. There are so many wonderful authors out there who are raising their families, working day jobs and still managing to get their books out. If you are healthy and have a book in you – do it. You will be so thrilled when you hold the first copy in your hand with your name on it.
Is there an author who inspired you to write?
I’ve always enjoyed Nora Roberts. Her characters are full and rich; her stories are always enjoyable. But, it was only after reading Stephen King: On Writing, that I realized there was nothing to stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a novelist. So, I took out the opening chapters and plot line of what would become Winds of Change, dusted it off, threw out the plot outline and got to work. Stephen King showed me that life doesn’t follow a script and neither should my novels. Once I threw the script away and started letting my characters act and interact on the basis of their principles and values, the manuscript gained a life of its own and I finished the initial draft in less than two months. Then, I re-wrote it three times with a critique partner.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?
If you have a dream, you need to go after it while your health is good and your mind is strong, particularly if that dream involves writing. Recently, I have been profoundly humbled by the journey of a friend who has terminal cancer. She decided that, rather than submit to chemo that would only prolong her life but never cure her, she was going to go through her bucket list. And she did: Two months in Greece, a couple of weeks on the gorgeous coast of British Columbia, a week in Jamaica with her sister. She’s home now. Her travels are over. She is completely at peace. I am in complete awe of her spirit and hope I can be as gracious when my time comes.