Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello, Fiona. I’m Scott Bury, and 112 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the east-west centre of Canada, but moved with my family to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where I grew up. I live now in Ottawa, capital of Canada.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I got my degree in Mass Communications from Carleton University and soon after that became a business journalist, a job I did for another 30 years or so. I live with my two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a beautiful wife who puts up with a lot.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest book, Echoes, will be out on May 12. It’s my fourth Lei Crime Kindle World mystery, and I think it’s my best.
But that’s not all: I published another Sydney Rye Kindle World novella, The Three-Way, on April 25. And the final volume in my Eastern Front trilogy, which is a true-life war memoir, was published on February 22: Walking Out of War.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I think I started writing — making up stories and writing them down in longhand — in the first grade. Gradually, I had more and more fun with “composition” class in grade school, and by the time I was in high school, I was writing stories, the beginnings of terrible novels, and outlines for comic books.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess in high school, when I started writing science fiction and fantasy stories and comics. I worked with friends who could draw on our own comic book ideas. We managed to get several pages done of a few different ideas, but nothing complete.
But I did write a lot of stories, and outlines and first chapters of a few books. I still have those, somewhere in my house.
As a teenager, I also published three editions of my own magazine, which I called The Outer Fringe. I had agreements with a few bookstores to sell it. It included some fan ravings about science fiction books, stories by me and my friends, drawings by others, and even an interview with science-fiction author Samuel R. “Chip” Delany.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your latest book?
It it grew out of several sources, like a major river gets fed by many different tributaries.
For years, there have been songs that told stories so rich, I knew they could be made into books. When I learned that there would be another major launch of Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World titles in May, I realized I could combine two of them into a Hawaii crime novel.
One isJungleland, the operatic closing song from Bruce Sprinsteen’sBorn to Run album. Like so many Springsteen songs, it’s populated with captivating characters: the Magic Rat, the Barefoot Girl, the Local Cop, the Maximum Lawman, the Midnight Gang and the Poet. And I was haunted by the lines:
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light.
The Guns of Brixton, written by Paul Simonon of The Clash, is also haunting. It tells the story of men opposed to the police. Here are the most powerful lines, the ones that really inspired part of Echoes:
You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you’ll have to answer to
Oh, the guns of Brixton
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It took a long time, and I went through a lot. But I hit on Echoes because part of the story happens in 1999, and most of it in 2014. Events in 1999, when my main character, Vanessa Storm, was 17, have consequences 15 years later — like echoes.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I always try to be as clear as possible, use active sentences all the time, and include enough description to bring the reader right into the setting, without slowing down the story.
Another thing I try to stay conscious of is showing the setting through one main character’s senses at a time. I have to be careful not to describe events or situations that my character could not possibly know. If the reader needs information that the character cannot see, then I’ll write from another character’s point of view in another chapter.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have a habit of basing my characters on people that I know well. That way, I can write realistic reactions to situations and events. But beyond that, the story is fiction.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
For the Hawaii stories, I found it necessary. There was another plot idea I had been noodling over for a long time, but I could never make it work in a Canadian setting. Then when Toby invited me to participate in the initial launch of the Lei Crime Kindle World, I realized that a Hawaiian setting would make the plot work.
However, my main character was a geologist: Sam Boyko, based on my younger son, Nicolas. And as I started writing the outline, I realized that I knew nothing about Hawaiian geology, and I wasn’t finding the information I needed on the Web. So my wife and I booked a Hawaiian vacation and I got the details I needed.
Beyond that, I got real experiences and sensations on Maui that I could incorporate into the book.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
All my book covers, except for The Bones of the Earth, were designed by David C. Cassidy of Ontario. I think he’s a terrific designer as well as author.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That there is a danger to society when it selects only bullies in its police forces.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I can’t narrow it down to one favourite writer. I realized some time ago that I am drawn to magical realism, and one of my favourites is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
For new authors, I have to say I am most impressed with today’s independent writers, the people who dare to go beyond the conventions and tropes of so much commercial fiction these days: David C. Cassidy, of course, Toby Neal, Elise Stokes, Samreen Ahsan, Seb Kirby, Benjamin Wretlind, Emily Kimelman, Fred Brooke, Roger Eschbacher, Alan McDermott and Caleb Pirtle III, to name just a few.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I have to give a lot of credit to Toby Neal for inviting me among a few other writers to join her Kindle World, and for consistently supporting me since.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I’ve been writing for a living for over 30 years, as a journalist, editor and now a novelist. I also write various products for my employer.
Writing fiction is a career for some, but I haven’t gotten there, yet.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would remember to add the full list of my other books.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
In the research, I learned some details about the weaponry, organization and activities of the Honolulu Police Department, and also how delighted fellow Lei Crime authors are to lend their names to characters in my books.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Jessica Chastain — from what I’ve seen, she can evoke the strength as well as the vulnerability of Vanessa Storm.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
While it’s important to make your characters realistic and to bring them to life for the reader, and to put the reader into the situation, don’t go overboard with details. Every word should drive the story forward.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you like my books, tell your friends. If you can, write a review on Amazon — even if you did not like the book.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Sugar for Sugar by Seb Kirby.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember bits of readers from Grade 1, but one book that I remember quite well from my childhood, when I was probably 8, was My Father’s Dragon.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Absurdity makes me laugh. My family has a great time around the dinner table, taking an innocuous situation and stretching it until it’s ridiculous.
I sometimes cry over people who defy cruelty and evil, even when it endangers them.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Bruce Springsteen, so that I could tell him how his songs have been an inspiration for me.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Writing fiction is my hobby, although maybe it will one day be a paying career.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like smaller movies about ordinary people.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
It’s a bit of a running joke, but my favourite food is steak. I love the colour blue, and I love a lot of different styles of music: baroque, classical, blues, rock’n’roll and much more.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would probably be hunting and living off the land after the apocalypse.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
That’s up to someone else. I have enough writing to do before I die.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes — http://writtenword.ca