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?
Greetings all! I’m Joanna Kafarowski, aged 55.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada of English/Polish heritage. I’ve spent a lot of time in British Columbia on the beautiful West Coast. Currently, I live part-time in Ontario and part-time in Cheshire, England.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a Bachelors degree in English, a Masters degree in Geography and a PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies. I’ve worked extensively in the North which stood me in good stead during the researching and writing of my upcoming biography of a female polar explorer. I’m married with two children and have three helpful office assistants- my elder cats Tilly and Sirri and Golden Lab named Poppy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m delighted that my new biography of a female explorer entitled, “The Polar Adventures of a Rich American Dame A Life of Louise Arner Boyd” will be published by Dundurn Press this November.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing poetry very early on and then did freelance writing and book reviewing as an adult. I did a lot of scholarly writing when I was a university lecturer but only turned to biography in my forties.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It takes courage to claim this title. Although I always wanted to be a writer, I didn’t honour writing as my true path until recently.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Louise Arner Boyd (1887-1972) – the remarkable subject of my upcoming biography inspired me when I first heard about her accomplishments. She was a wealthy socialite who defied societal expectations and decided to become an explorer. How wild is that?
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Miss Boyd was a tough, gutsy woman who was passionate about the Arctic and followed her dreams. There was no other title I considered!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write from the heart- I try to be honest about my subject matter and with my readers.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My book is a biography so everything is real!
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’m a biographer so for me, lots of travelling is involved during the lengthy research process. This is the first comprehensive biography of explorer Louise Arner Boyd so it was important to do it right. She worked in Scandinavia so I travelled to this region frequently visiting places associated with her life. I also criss-crossed North America visiting archives and libraries.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher, Dundurn Press in Toronto.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My biographical subject Louise Arner Boyd didn’t particularly care what anyone thought about her. She figured out what she wanted from life and just went ahead and did it. She took huge risks and suffered as a result. She dared to dream big and I think she would recommend this to others.
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?
Not surprisingly, I love reading books by and about explorers. I’ve just read Kira Salak’s books and am looking forward to reading Jacki Hill-Murphy’s biography about Kate Marsden.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My publisher Dundurn Press has been an awesome partner to work with.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes indeed! It’s one I’ve adopted now.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I wouldn’t take ten years to write it! I’m more disciplined now in the way that I work so my research gathering stage would focus more on what I needed to tell the story instead of trying to learn every single detail of Miss Boyd’s life.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
How committed I was to telling the story of Louise Arner Boyd. How much I loved doing researching and writing. How much stamina I had to continue the process for ten years. And finally, I learned that I was a writer and could claim that lofty title.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Someone with grace and grit. Frances McDormand or Toni Collette.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Do it now. Follow your heart. Don’t take no for an answer. Find people who support your writerly journey.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Tell other people about the fabulous Louise Arner Boyd. Learn about other women explorers- Annie Smith Peck, Phyllis Munday, Gertrude Bell, Alexandra David-Néel, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. The list goes on and on. There are so many women’s lives that have been forgotten over time.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“The Walkabout Chronicles” by Siffy and Tor Torkildson.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I was an early fan of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Love John Candy movies! He was such a talented actor.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Just one? Elizabeth I, Charlotte Bronte, Emmeline Pankhurst, Isadora Duncan, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, St. Hilda of Whitby, … These were bold women who had a dream and took action.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, travelling, yoga, hiking, family history, birding, visiting all places bookish,
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m hooked on British shows- BBC period dramas and mysteries. Not surprisingly, I enjoy films with a strong female lead.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Like my biographical subject, my favourite colour is blue. I have eclectic tastes in music including ‘80s pop music, Gregorian chant, Indigenous throat-singing, New Country and Saami yoiking. Favorite food group is chocolate. Isn’t everyone’s?
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Travel around Central America. Escape to an island in British Columbia. Hide away in a cottage in the Shetland Islands.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Live well. Do good. Seek joy.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My brand spanking new website www.joannakafarowski.com
I can also be followed at
I’m also “joannakafarowski” on Instagram and can be found on Goodreads, Amazon Author Central and Pinterest.
Wonerful interview. I already have your book on my “to-read” list.
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