Q: How long does it take to write a book? 

A: For me, it varies. I feel like it takes me about 3 months to write the first draft, and then after that it can be a year of revising or totally restructuring, because my first drafts are often a dog's breakfast, but I need to get something out to start. 

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: I stare out a lot of windows and they flit around my head until I grab them or they settle down. I remember hearing Stuart McLean say that ideas are a dime a dozen; it's getting them into books that is the work, and boy, is that true!

Photo credit: Kat Keenan Photography

Q: Are there book ideas that haven't worked out?

A: Oh yes. The sacrificial lamb, the ideas that I just couldn't work through. It doesn't happen much anymore, as I know more now about what works and what doesn't, and why.

Q: When do you write? Where?

A: I like best to write in the morning, and usually at my local cafe on days I'm not at Ryerson for classes or meetings, in which case there is a cafe there I go to before my classes or meetings. I try and write whenever I can. Sometimes it's just re-reading what I wrote, sometimes it's outline/brainstorming or fiddling with a paragraph, and sometimes it's full-on. 

Q: How do you fit writing in with being a full-time professor?

A: There is no job like the one I have, and I am so fortunate to have it. It allows me so much flexibility, and Ryerson supports my writing with great gusto. Plus, I absolutely love teaching. My students give me energy, they inspire me, and my job is constantly changing. Ultimately, I love to write, and so I find the time to work it in. 

Q: Was Sister of Mine based on anyone you know? 

A: No. As a writer, I like to observe people, to absorb anecdotes and attributes. But no character can ever be someone else for me. They have to be themselves. 

Q: Do you have a sister?

A: Nope! But I am a sister. :) I have a brother, and we have a relationship nothing like that of Penny and Hattie, thank goodness!

Q: What kind of books do you like to read?

A: I'm a book junkie, a fanatic. I read all different kinds of novels, but I love literary fiction and historical fiction.

My Notorious Life, Transcription, Education, Evergreen Greetings from the Baumgartens, The Alice Network, So Much Life Left Over, The Dust that Falls from Dreams, Washington Black, The Underground Railroad, The Space Between Us, Everything I Never Told you