Without further ado, I wish to thank Cathy for a most wonderful Q and A, for taking the time out of her busy schedule and welcome her to my blog!
1. What is your most treasured possession?
I’m going to pick the wall of black and white photos I’ve got up at home as my most treasured possession. Three generations of family history are there─my father looking like a Latino heartthrob in his graduation gown; my mother like a cherub at three; my in-laws pensive and determined in their engagement shot; my husband smirking at five; me hightailing it up a snowy church walkway in my wedding gown; my too tiny, too early eldest son blissfully unaware of the technology and staff monitoring his every breath; my next in line feeding blueberries to his Pops; my baby smiling big in a firefighter’s hat.
2. Who are your heroes in real life?
My mom. I come from a family of moderate means. My dad was a teacher and my mom stayed at home. There were five kids. Still, we had piano and ballet and swimming lessons, outings to theatres and museums and galleries. There was summer camp and vacations like no one else’s. By my early teens, I’d seen most every province in Canada, most every state in America. I’d swum in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The seven of us drove in a VW campervan, camping along the way, from Niagara Falls to the tip of Mexico and then on into Belize. This richness I credit to my mom, to her resourcefulness and sheer will.
3. What is your most marked characteristic?
It could be that I’ll jump into whatever task is at hand, assuming I’ll figure it out. Examples might include tackling a cardigan as my first knitting project at twelve, sewing my own and all my sisters’ wedding gowns, baking strawberry shortcake for two hundred, designing a cottage, laying a mosaic floor or writing a novel. I must add, though, that such boldness does not apply to tasks involving spelling (without spell-check), driving, finding my way around or using a PVR.
4. When and where were you happiest?
I hate to be so clichéd, but on the question of happiness, my wedding reception in Niagara-on-the-Lake comes to mind. It doesn’t get much better than being surrounded by and receiving best wishes from most every person you love in the world.
5. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness generally involves the outdoors and the people I love best─biking the length of the Niagara River with my husband, reaching Lake Garibaldi with my family after a grueling hike, watching my youngest get up on water-skis, running a cottage road with my girlfriends, a glass of red wine in the setting sun among either of my extended families.
6. With you and I both being from the Niagara Region, what was it, or gave you the idea of writing a book based loosely on Niagara Falls?
Niagara lore is endless─the Maid of the Mist and her canoe, Sir Isaac Brock and the War of 1812, Blondin and his tightrope, Annie Taylor and her barrel, William “Red” Hill and his daring rescues, Sir Adam Beck and hydroelectricity, Roger Woodward and the miracle at Niagara… With such a storied past and the staggering beauty of the falls themselves, setting was where I started. Not character. Not plot. Growing up in Niagara Falls, I don’t think a different setting was ever a possibility.
7. What would be the most outlandish / craziest story that you heard or read about while researching about Niagara Falls, in your book?
In 1920 Charles Stephens went over the falls in a barrel with an anvil as ballast. To minimize the thrashing he would surely take inside the barrel, he tied his feet to the anvil and strapped his arms to the sides of the barrel. After his disastrous plunge, only his severed arm was recovered, tattooed with the words “Forget me not, Annie.” I couldn’t resist including this bit of lore in The Day the Falls Stood Still.
8. What was it that intrigued you most about that time and what was happening in Niagara Falls?
To help me decide on time period, I read books surveying the history of Niagara Falls. The story of William “Red” Hill, Niagara’s most famous riverman, came up time and again, and with each telling I became more intrigued, more certain my main male characters would be loosely based on him. The character I came up with was Tom Cole. Like Tom Cole, Red Hill was born with a caul and had an uncanny knowledge of the river, a knowledge he would pass on to his sons. It was said that he could predict the weather simply by listening to the roar of the falls, also that he would wake in the night knowing he would find a body tossing in the river the following day. In his lifetime (1888-1942) he hauled 177 bodies from the river, rescued 29 people, and assisted a handful of stunters. Red Hill was also a daredevil, shooting the Whirlpool Rapids in a barrel three times, an aspect I would not incorporate into Tom Cole. His reverence for the river would run too high.
9. What was the first feeling when hearing that you had garnered a lot of buzz about your book? Do you feel like a rock star yet ?
Two days after sending out my manuscript, my agent called with the wonderful news that Ellen Archer and Pamela Dorman at Voice had made a preemptive offer. Of course, there was screaming and dancing around the office and a hysterical telephone call to my husband. Then reality set in. I had twenty minutes to get to the store and buy my son’s pal a birthday gift and get to my son’s school to pick him up. I glanced from the office window to the driveway. My husband had taken the car to work. I set out in boots and a jacket, trudging through mounds of snow. As I broke into a sweat, it occurred to me that, book deal or not, nothing much had changed. All these months later I am still mowing the lawn, getting my kids packed up for camp and picking up the dirty socks. Ten minutes ago, I took a load of garbage to the dump. Rock star? I’m not so sure.
10. Which talent (besides writing) would you most like to have and why?
I’m pretty sure my friends and family would say I am an able cook. But as someone who likes to be creative and who takes great joy in serving a wonderful meal, I’d like to be an excellent cook. I have a brother-in-law who comes up with unexpected wonders like asparagus in blueberry sauce and a sister-in-law who bakes without recipes. I watch the two of them in the kitchen with envious eyes.