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?

 My name is Joan Donaldson-Yarmey and I am 68 years old.

Fiona: Where are you from?

Right now I live on an acreage on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I was born in New Westminster, B.C. Canada, and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. I married soon after graduation and moved to a farm where I had two children. Over the years I worked as a bartender, hotel maid, cashier, bank teller, bookkeeper, printing press operator, meat wrapper, gold prospector, warehouse shipper, house renovator, and nursing attendant. During that time I raised my two children and helped raise my three step-children.Since I love change, I have moved over thirty times in my life, living on acreages and farms and in small towns and cities throughout Alberta and B.C.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, my publisher, Books We Love, Ltd is publishing the Canadian Brides Historical Series. There will be a total of twelve books, one for each of the ten provinces and three territories (the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are combined in one book). My novel Romancing the Klondike was released in May, 2017, and takes place in 1896, the year before the great Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began my writing career with a short article about an injured hawk that my son and I found that was published in a small magazine. This inspired me to write more and I progressed to travel and historical articles, and then on to travel books, which I called my Backroads series. To research the seven booksI travelled the back roads of British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon, and Alaska and described what there is to see and do along them. I have now switched to fiction writing four mystery novels, Illegally Dead, The Only Shadow In The House, and Whistler’s Murder,and Gold Fever, two young adult novels about Canadian history West to the BayandWest to Grande Portage a Christmas romance, Twelve Dates of Christmas with my sister, Gwen Donaldson and a contemporary young adult novel titled Crazy Cat Kid.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It took a while for me to tell people I was an author. I think it was after my third travel book was published that I began to answer “writer” when asked what I did.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

I like to travel and came up with an idea about books that described what there wasto see and do in Alberta, the province I lived in.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

When I pitched the idea to the publisher at Lone Pine Publishing in Edmonton, he said he had always wanted to do a book about the backroads of Alberta. By the time I had finished travelling through the whole province and wrote the book it was too long for one book so it was divided into Backroads of Northern Alberta, and Backroads of Southern Alberta. The four on British Columbia areBackroads of Southwestern British Columbia, Backroads of Vancouver Island, Backroads of Southern Interior British Columbia, and Backroads of Central and Northern British Columbiaand the last was theBackroads of the Yukon and Alaska. I sure saw a lot of beautiful country while working on these books.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

 I’m not sure what my writing style is since I write in different genres. The challenge I have in writing my historical novels is making sure that I have my historical facts correct. Even when I am writing my other novels I want to make sure when I describe a place or put in a fact that they are right.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Three of my mystery novels have the same main character and she is a travel writer. I call them my Travelling Detective series. My fourth mystery novel is set in the mountains of southern B.C. where I spent a year prospecting for gold with my husband. The main characters of my novel, Romancing the Klondike are fictional but there are minor characters who actually lived there are the time.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

 I travelled to all the places mentioned in my travel books and my mystery novels. For my historical novels I relied mainly on history books with pictures or drawings to give me a feel for the place and time. I have been to the Yukon twice and hiked the Chilkoot Trail, so knew much of the region for writing Romancing the Klondike.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

Both my publishers have their own cover designers.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Not really. I come up with an idea and write about it. I don’t think about any message or making a statement.

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 don’t really have a favourite writer. I love reading mysteries so they are the ones I pick to read. I judge the story by how much I am surprised by the ending.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

The woman who taught the first writing course that I took. She was the one who encouraged me to send in my article about the hawk to the magazine.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I have just retired by my job as a nursing attendant so I can now call writing my career.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. I am happy with the way it turned out.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

I thought I knew a lot about the Yukon and the Klondike Gold Rush before I started the book. Once I started researching the year before the gold rush I was surprised at how many people lived the towns in the north at the time and that the towns had libraries, dance halls, theatres and many of the amenities of southern towns.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Since this is a Canadian novel I would want a Canadian actress and actor to play the female and male leads. I think Ellen Page would be a wonderful as Pearl Owens and Ryan Reynolds would be a great Sam Owens.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

Take a few courses to understand the technique of writing and to get feedback on what you have written. Then start writing.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I hope if you like my books that you will leave a review on whatever site you purchase it from. If you don’t like it please let me know what it is that didn’t appeal to you.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

I don’t specifically remember the first book I read but I remember receiving a Trixie Beldon mystery novel from my aunt and uncle for one Christmas. I spent the day reading and finished it before night. I guess that set me on my mystery reading.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

My cats and their antics make me laugh. Thinking of my late parents makes me cry.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

 Since mysteries are my favourite genre and I’ve read most of Agatha Christie’s novels, I would like to have a chat with her.

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

I like to paint, sew, and knit.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I like to watch comedies, mysteries, thrillers and documentaries about writers.

Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?

I love chocolate, the colour red, and rock and roll from the sixties.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

 If I couldn’t write any more I would carry on with one of my hobbies.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

I plan on being cremated but in case there is a mistake then I would like ‘lived a great life’ written on my headstone.

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

 My Amazon author page is: https://www.amazon.com/Joan%20Donaldson-Yarmey/e/B005G7BRLI/ref=la_B005G7BRLI_pg_2?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB005G7BRLI&page=2&sort=author-pages-popularity-rank&ie=UTF8&qid=1510952510

 My publisher’s author page is: http://bookswelove.net/authors/donaldson-yarmey-joan/

 My website is: http://www.joandonaldsonyarmey.com/

 My blog is: http://thetravellingdetectiveseries.blogspot.ca/