||Born in Cranbrook, British
Columbia, in 1956, I grew up the second oldest of
five siblings, with two incredible parents and a multitude
of lifelong friends. It was a Norman Rockwell-ish
upbringing, filled with books, family camping trips,
paper routes, yard and street hockey, sleepovers,
and all the other signposts of a small town childhood.
A month after high school graduation in July '74,
I joined the Canadian Armed Forces. Having never been
further than my own province, I was promptly sent
to the other side of the country and spent ten weeks
in Nova Scotia doing basic training. Much to my amazement,
I loved it...except for those 0500 runs. Nothing like
racing through a thick Atlantic fog in the company
of thirty other young women to wake a person up every
Assigned to air traffic control, my first posting
was Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I was there for two years,
having a blast, but left the Forces when my best friend
did. We had grand plans for our future, but economic
circumstances-like barely having two pennies to rub
together-saw me back in my parents' house in Cranbrook.
I spent two years working for the Canadian Pacific
Railroad as a train order operator (sort of an air
traffic controller for the rail set) on straight midnight
shifts in the middle of the Crowsnest Pass, before
I saw the light and rejoined the Forces in '78. This
time I was posted to Ottawa. I began taking university
courses on my own time, and in '79 applied for officer
training. My dream was to be one of the CAF's first
female pilots, but unfortunately my less than perfect
eyesight burst that bubble. However I was selected
for Officer Training and sent to Royal Military College
in Kingston for three years where I completed an Honours
Degree in History, switched from ATC to Intelligence,
and commuted on weekends back to Ottawa where my husband,
Husband? Yup, having spectacularly failed to connect
my own dots, I met a man of profound courage, great
good humour, and quick intelligence. Being highly
susceptible to all those things, not to mention his
gentle blue eyes, I fell in love. BJ was my best friend,
and remained so for the 22 years that we would spend
together, even after I finally admitted to us both,
at the ripe old age of thirty, that I was gay. He
became progressively more disabled with multiple sclerosis,
and in '90, when he retired from the Forces, I left
my own military career to care for him full time.
Three years later, my husband, grown son and I moved
to Calgary to be closer to my B.C. based family.
|In retirement, BJ and I
traveled, entertained, and generally enjoyed life
until the degree of his disability made all those
things quite difficult. As we became housebound, my
brother-in-law introduced me to the wonderful world
of the Internet.
|When an on-line writer-friend encouraged
me to try writing for myself, I resisted for many
months, insisting that I was a reader, not a writer.
However with BJ's health getting progressively worse
- he was by this time quadriplegic - I eventually
began writing a story about us. It was fictionalized
to a great degree, but explored the conflict between
my love and loyalty to him, and my longing to be who
I truly was-a lesbian. Sadly, over the years BJ's
mental state had deteriorated as severely as his physical
condition, and a form of dementia meant that my best
friend was gone from me; only his physical shell remained.
I spent his last couple of years caring for him around
the clock, writing when I could.
I hadn't planned to show Coming Home to anyone
else, but my mentor/friend arranged for it to be posted
in Aug '00. I was amazed by the response and even
more surprised when I was approached to publish it
with RAP. What had started as a simple effort to exorcize
the pain of events in my own life had taken me in
completely unforeseen directions. Writing was only
meant to be my own personal escape, but it swiftly
became intoxicating to reach other people through
my words, and I began a second novel. In the meantime,
the process of getting Coming Home published
continued, and eventually I was assigned an editor
in January '01.
Little did I know that my life was about to take
another huge turn. That editor became a friend,
then, shocking both of us, we fell in love. It was
the age old story: girl meets girl on-line, and
through the power of words, they fall madly, hopelessly
|It did indeed seem hopeless, as we both
knew I'd never leave BJ. Back when I finally told
him I was gay, a fact which he had already gleaned,
I also promised him I would care for him for the rest
of his life. I simply couldn't break that promise,
even if my best friend had already been taken from
me by a treacherous, insidious disease.
In May '01, Coming Home was published.
The cover art includes a photo of BJ as an RCAF
fighter pilot in the early Sixties.
I was able to show him 'his' book,
and in a rare moment of clarity he recognized
'his' story even though I never read it to him.
The character of Rob was BJ in a nutshell, with
his courage, sense of humour, and the non-exaggerated
tales of his rowdy exploits as a young NATO pilot
in Europe. One of the greatest compliments I've
ever received on the story was when our son told
me that I'd captured his dad perfectly.
The book was my tribute to a splendid human being,
caught in an impossible situation in which he simply
couldn't triumph. I deliberately wrote all three
lead characters as good people trapped in circumstances
beyond their control, simply trying to be honourable
even as their hearts tore them in different directions.
Though I hadn't met Day until after I finished Coming
Home, that was exactly the scenario that developed
in the spring of '01 as I balanced my love and responsibility
for BJ with my new love for this woman who had turned
my life upside down.
In early July of that year, I had to take BJ to
the hospital for irregular breathing. When he was
admitted, I went home thinking it would simply be
one more of the innumerable times he'd had to stay
in the hospital, and that I would bring him home
again in a week or two when he had recovered. However,
it wasn't to be. He pulled through one major crisis
and appeared to respond to treatment, but by mid-July
he slid into a coma. BJ passed away Wednesday July
18th, and those of us who loved him, mourned for
a truly special human being. Not a day goes by that
I don't remember BJ, but I rejoice that I got to
spend so many years with him, even as I marvel at
the timing of Day coming into my life just as BJ
was leaving it.
I was always grateful that BJ lived long enough
to see Coming Home in book form. Though no
one lucky enough to know him in real life could
ever forget him, the book was my way of expressing
how fortunate I felt to have met him and been part
of his life, despite our obvious difficulties. Once
I had written that story, I felt free to move on
to things much more removed from my own life, and
Broken Faith was the result. Marika, one
of the leads in Broken Faith, had been a
small, but vital part of Coming Home. She
was originally intended to be the villainess of
the story, but she stubbornly went in a completely
different direction and turned out to be not only
a sympathetic character, but also one that I wanted
to know more about...so I gave Marika her own story.
Having failed to write a credible villain in Coming
Home, I took it as a personal challenge to write
one for Broken Faith and ended up with two,
Gao and Cass. Whereas Coming Home had been
both a learning and cathartic experience, Broken
Faith was pure fun to write. Creating a believable,
well rounded cast, in a plot with enough twists
and turns to keep a reader's interest fascinated
me. I still consider myself more of a reader than
a writer. I go into withdrawal if I don't consume
at least two or three newspapers a day, but writing
fills a very real need to create.
Since my first tentative foray into writing, I've
enjoyed writing both short and novel length stories.
My fourth novel, Walking the Labyrinth, will
be published by Ylva Publishing in print and e-versions
in the summer of 2013. Revised editions of my older
novels, Coming Home, Broken Faith and Kicker's
Journey will also be issued in both print and
electronic formats in 2013-14. As for future projects,
Madeleine L'Engle wrote "You have to write
the book that wants to be written." I've found
that true with all of my work. I can't force a short
story or a novel, so I will await the understanding
of what wants to be written next. In the meantime,
if the rest of my life wasn't so filled with my
wonderful wife, family, and friends, reading, travel,
kayaking, gardening, and another passion - home
improvements - I'd probably be much more productive
in the writing field. But I really wouldn't change
|In the midst of an unexpectedly late snowstorm,
Day and I married at the country home of BJ's
family in Southern Ontario in April, '07.
These days I travel regularly between my southern
home with Day in Georgia, and my northern home in
Calgary, Alberta. Though I look forward to the time
when Day moves north permanently, I appreciate both
countries. I could do without March tornadoes in Atlanta
and May snowfalls in Calgary, but how can anyone not
enjoy having two springs every year? Though Atlanta
has theirs in March, and in Calgary, we occasionally
wait until June for ours.
Still, there is much compensation
for our erratic weather in my northern home...
|These days, whether I'm in Georgia or Alberta,
you'll usually find me at my laptop, or with
a paintbrush in hand. Either way, I'm a very
fortunate and contented woman.