My name is Lee Bice-Matheson and my coauthor, our son, is J.R. Matheson.
There are 33 years between us making J.R. 23 and I’m 56. I was told by a Specialist that I wouldn’t live past the age of 40 so I wear the badge of 56 proudly.
Tell us about yourselves:
Lee: I began my writing career as a storyteller, often weaving tales for our son, J.R. Matheson. My stories parlayed into a writing career that was united with J.R.’s creative imagination, as a mom-son writing team. It is my dream come true! I am proud to say we have coauthored Destiny’s Gate, Book Two, and Shine Your Light, Book Three. I am also the author of Wake Me Up Inside, Book One, in the Paige Maddison Series. It was the recipient of the Literacy Award from the Readers’ Advisory Panel, Orillia Public Library, and the Paige Maddison Series continues to be included in the Battle of the Books, Simcoe County. I am passionate about spirituality, and all it encompasses. I love spending time in nature, and canoeing and portaging into Algonquin Park with my husband. My degrees are in Honours History, Master of Library & Information Science, both from Western University. I’ve worked in public, medical, and corporate libraries, and now I work proudly with my husband, Kevin, in our Chiropractic Clinic.
J.R.: I’ve been writing fantasy and horror since I was old enough to hold a pen. Collaborating on the Paige Maddison Series has reignited my passion for creative writing. When I’m not weaving tales with mom and coauthor, Lee Bice-Matheson, I can be found drowning in scientific publications and talking incessantly about my research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Ontario, where I’m a pharmacology PhD student. Some may claim that science and the creative arts are at odds, but I feel they are one and the same.
Tell us your latest news:
Lee & J.R.: We are over-the-moon happy with the reception of our new release Shine Your Light, Book Three, Paige Maddison Series. It is still on the Amazon.com Top 100 Best Sellers (1 month now) for our paperback edition, and just moved up to #2 HOT NEW RELEASES for Teen and Young Adult ghost stories. We couldn’t be happier. We have a Christmas book signing at Manticore Books, in Orillia, Canada, coming up on Saturday, December 17th, and many upcoming interviews and blog talk radio shows. We also have a book signing in our hometown at The Book Keeper, Sarnia, ON, on Saturday, January 28th, 2017, and then we kick off our book tour in Indigo/Chapters in February. All events are updated on our BkSigning / Events Page on our website.
J.R.’s latest news: Well, since I’ve become a PhD student in clinical pharmacology at the University of Toronto, I have officially stepped down as my mom’s coauthor on the Paige Maddison Series. Shine Your Light was our last book together for some time but I hope to continue writing with Mom again someday. I conduct my research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, which is one of the largest mental health and addictions hospitals in North America. My lab studies the effects of cannabis and alcohol on driver behaviour using a driving simulator. We also do a lot of population-level research, like tracking drug use patterns in Canada and studying the association between drug use and motor vehicle collisions. My personal research interests lie in understanding how cannabis affects brain functions like memory, attention, reaction time, and motor skills. There are a lot of misconceptions about cannabis use – many people don’t believe that cannabis actually affects driving. I think if we can show very clearly in the lab how cannabis interrupts normal brain function, we can help dispel this myth and reduce the impact of cannabis use on traffic fatalities.
When & why did you begin writing?
Lee: I read three books at a time as a young child and loved entering the magical worlds that the authors created. I especially enjoyed Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and the Nancy Drew series. My passion for books transformed into storytelling for J.R. and my husband, Kevin, and then I began writing novels in 2008.
J.R.: My Mom recently reminded me that I wrote short stories as a very young child for my English classes. I wrote my first book when I was ten years old, 2002. I’d been having a recurring dream, and it compelled me to find a way to dispel the dreams. Finally, I decided it was best to weave it into a story. I never had that book published, but I still consider it my first work, and it’s what helped me hone my writing skills early on.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Lee: In 2008, I completed the Institute of Children’s Literature course on writing for children and teens. My instructor, Cheryl Zach, informed me that I could go straight into writing novels. I was absolutely shocked and thrilled. I am grateful to this day for her support and encouragement.
J.R.: The day I saw my name printed on the cover of Destiny’s Gate, Book Two, was the day I considered myself a writer. It was a game-changer for me.
Do you have a specific writing style?
We both write passionately from the heart. If this is considered a writing style, then here it is. The passion translates into lively dialogue, action-packed scenes, and truth and honesty in our characters’ portrayals.
How did you come up with the title?
Several titles came to mind all in one day and I shared them with J.R. Thankfully, he picked Shine Your Light. As J.R. pointed out – Paige Maddison is always trying to ‘shine her light’ helping others, ahead of herself.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
One of our Amazon Reviewers exemplifies our message in the novel:
“This inspiring story highlights how easy it can be to feel overwhelmed and succumb to negativity when we feel alone. The authors gracefully remind us that asking for guidance and support is not a weakness, but more importantly, takes courage and can help us stay grounded and truly let our LIGHT SHINE. I highly recommend this read!” 5*
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
We’ve been told that many parts of the novel seem realistic. We are happy to hear this as we want our readers to experience Paige’s life, her journey. We believe all writers include parts of themselves in their writing … as did we.
What books have most influence your life? A mentor?
Lee: Books that have influenced me are the Nancy Drew series, the Hardy Boys, and many of Stephen King’s early works such as It, Carrie, and The Shining. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story really captured my imagination and I passed the novel along to J.R. My mentor is John Robert Colombo, Canada’s Master Gatherer, and his lovely wife, Ruth. They have published many books between them and they were professors at York University. They taught me to believe in myself. I believe the success we are seeing is a direct result of their nurturing guidance.
J.R.: The Harry Potter books were probably the first books to get me really excited about reading. The “horror side” of me was definitely influenced by reading Stephen King and Peter Straub when I was in elementary school. Pet Sematary and Ghost Story are the two novels that stand out. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is probably the novel that most influenced my life, or at least the way I see the world. It made me realize how much I romanticize things in my life, and it helped me get in touch with a deeper emotional side of my personality.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favourite author and what is it that strikes you about their work?
We have to apologize for being so wrapped up in the Paige Maddison Series. It is a full-time job writing, publishing, and marketing three novels. We haven’t looked around for new authors and their works but we’ll be able to soon do this in the next year. Our book was just released November 15, 2016 so it takes precedence in marketing, especially at Christmas time, the biggest book buying season of the year.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
In the past few years, our Facebook community has been our biggest driving force. We have a community of over 9,300 supporters and our FB friends Like, Comment, Direct Message us giving feedback on our series. It keeps pushing us forward. Our Super Fan in 2015, Siobhan Quinlan, has motivated us more than she knows. Thank you, Siobhan!
Do you see writing as a career?
Lee: I absolutely see writing as a career.
J.R.: I have currently put writing on hold as I’m committed to my PhD. Eventually I want to join my mom again and write more novels. I’d also like to write horror so maybe one day…
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
We wouldn’t change a thing in Shine Your Light. The feedback from readers has been supportive and encouraging.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Lee: Two things: While hiking along many Ontario trails, there was always the concern of wild animals, namely bears. I would make up stories for J.R. and Kevin as we walked along. J.R. and Kevin insisted that I start writing the stories down and to share them with the world. And, I work with my husband in his Chiropractic Clinic, and one day he said to me, “For all of the years that you have worked with me and supported our clinic, and raised our son, I wish you would find something you love to do. You deserve this because you’ve done so much for J.R. and me.” J.R. and Kevin are my inspiration for writing. They are my cheerleaders.
J.R.: I started writing to have an outlet to engage with my dreams. I have very vivid dreams and I just feel the need to write them down sometimes.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Excerpt from Shine Your Light, Chapter One, First paragraph:
Snowflakes danced and swirled beyond the windowpane, capturing the sun’s rays, glistening like diamonds as they drifted, mesmerizing me as I stood by and watched without a care in
the world. Mother Nature had trapped me tight within her grasp. I was drawn into her beauty and magnetic, overpowering energy. Snowflakes accumulated, forming small mounds
and snow drifts, and I viewed the scene as if through the lens of time-lapse photography. I sensed danger was near, yet felt warm and peaceful inside. And then I sensed nothing at all.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Once the manuscript is completed, we edit and re-edit it until the last possible moment before it goes to print. It is the most difficult phase of writing for us. We have often changed the ending at this time, and fine-tune the details.
Do you have to travel much concerning your books?
J.R. and I do a lot of book signings but luckily they are in the Toronto, and surrounding GTA, and our hometown of Sarnia, ON, Canada. However, for research purposes, we have travelled to New York, Boston, and parts of the Florida Keys for information specific to our series. Recently, and closer to home, we have done research on wolves with the help of the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve at their Wolf Center.
Book Cover designer:
Nancy Batra, Illustrator/Designer, created our book cover. We love it and we hope the readers do too. My sister, Cindy Slipacoff, designed the two sketches of the O’Brien Estate and surrounding area which are new in Book Three. Thank you to these very talented artists!
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Lee: The hardest part for me was dealing with a new character J.R. created. Her name is Annie Ariana Booker. She is scary even for me.
J.R.: My pursuit of research and becoming a professor keeps me very busy so probably finding time to write together. We did this via Skype, emails, and using Dropbox. However, on many family holidays, mom and I were off by ourselves writing Paige’s journey.
Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
The best thing we’ve learned during the writing process is listening to each other with respect and knowing how rare it is to be part of a Mom-Son writing team. We were warned that it often turns into resentment and bitterness. Writing two novels together has brought us closer which we did not think was possible. We’ve always been close and happy to say, we will remain so.
If any of your books was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
We have had many companies that have approached us about putting the Paige Maddison Series on TV or as a movie since the first novel was released in 2010. We have so far said no to this idea. However, if someone was to play Paige Maddison it might be Ariel Workman from the sitcom Modern Family. She’s smart and funny and could play Paige hands down.
Do you have any advice for writers?
Lee: If you’re going to be a writer and eventually an author (selling books), be passionate, stay true to your calling, and don’t sacrifice your words or your messages to please others. An honest work written from the heart is the key to writing a novel readers will want to buy. Do your research. Even in fiction, a lot of the information is based loosely in fact.
J.R.: Write a little bit each day. Don’t take too long of a break from your story, or it will slip away from you!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to our supporters and book buying readers of the Paige Maddison Series. We wouldn’t be continuing this journey if it wasn’t for you. Also to our new readers, we hope you enjoy Paige’s spiritual awakening. We want people to ‘shine their light’ in the world we live in and we’ve been told our books help many to see ‘the light.’ Please leave honest and constructive reviews for any of your favourite authors on Goodreads, Amazon, Google Play, Barnes and Noble, or any online bookstore. It is one of the main ways to give feedback to help authors understand how their work is being received or how it could be tweaked to make it better.
What book are you reading now?
Lee: I mainly read non-fiction books as a part of my research for the Paige Maddison Series. I do not read fiction while I’m writing for fear I might take someone else’s idea(s).
J.R.: Many, many research papers.
Do you remember the 1st book you read?
Lee: I’m positive it was Cinderella. And, I’m not sure of the title, but I’m pretty sure alongside of Cinderella were a couple of books with ghost stories.
J.R.: I remember reading all of the Dr. Seuss books. But my first recollection of reading on my own was probably Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
What makes you laugh/cry?
Lee: Watching my husband laugh so hard he’s crying, makes me very happy and laugh loudly. What makes me happy-cry are the reality shows, like The Voice, or Survivor, when someone wins and their dream comes true, or they sing that high note they didn’t think they could make, or a loner becomes a team player and overcomes their anxiety and fear like David on Survivor. I cry when I witness or read articles on poverty and how it effects children and stunts their growth both physically and mentally.
J.R.: I laugh a lot. I even happy-cry somtimes. It’s usually at something very random, out of the ordinary. News of bullying makes me cry.
Is there one person, past or present you would like to meet?
Lee: For me it would be Albert Einstein. I love reading his scientific vs spiritual philosophy in his articles.
J.R.: I still would love to meet Emma Watson aka Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter movies. I felt like I could relate to her geekiness. Emma is very academically inclined, herself, and I really respect that. She also started #HeForShe encouraging ‘men and boys to take action against negative inequalities women and girls may face.’ It’s something Paige Maddison would love to have done.
What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Lee: On my tombstone it would read: Herein lays a loving wife & mom that believed in ‘family first’ & inspiring people to shine their light (I love my family so much, I hope I’ve been the best mom & wife I could be supporting and loving J.R. and Kevin. And I love to inspire people to be their best selves, and that in turn effects the world positively.)
J.R.: I’m too young to think of this idea. J
Other than writing, do you have any Hobbies?
Lee: I love to sail with my husband, dance, hike, canoe and portage into Algonquin Park, Canada.
J.R.: I don’t have time for hobbies right now but I love to walk my dog, Abby.
What TV shows or films do you enjoy watching?
Lee: I love Grimm, sitcoms like Mom, dramas like Saving Hope, and the comedic Castle. I am sorry they cancelled the show. He was an author and I loved his sense of humour and watching his family interact with one another. I still enjoy Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies, Aliens with Sigourney Weaver. And pretty much anything Roma Downey is involved with.
J.R.: I’m a huge fan of horror movies. The past few years in particular have seen a number of amazing new horror movies – It Follows, The Witch, You’re Next, and so on. It’s a great time to be a horror fan. I’m much more varied with my TV shows; I like to watch a lot of light sitcoms like The Office and Modern Family, but I’m also a sucker for good HBO shows like Game of Thrones, and more recently, Westworld.
Lee: My favourite foods are: guacamole, shrimp cocktail, veggies & dip, salmon, pickerel … fish of any kind. My favourite colour is royal blue. My favourite music is pop music like ‘This Girl’ by Cookin on 3 Burners (Australia), Evanescence, Adele, Michelle Qureshi’s New Age music … great for meditating, Maroon Five, and classical music.
J.R.: I love international cuisine such as Korean dishes, Chicken Masala, authentic Chinese food. I love hummus, stir frys, and I make a tasty caesar salad. My favourite colour is red. I don’t usually have favorite artists. I listen to a broad range of music, from house music and electronica to classical music. One of my favourite singers is a Danish songwriter named Agnes Obel. I’ve seen her in concert twice, and she has an absolutely beautiful voice.
If you weren’t a writer what else would you have like to have done?
Lee: I absolutely wish I could sing. I would love to make people happy singing to them.
J.R.: I would have loved to be a chef. I’m told by my friends and family, especially my mom, I’m a great Amateur Chef. Thanks, Mom!
Social Media: We are at: http://leebicematheson.ca/
Twitter is: @BiceMatheson @justinrmatheson
Media inquiries: please email email@example.com
Thank you so much, Fiona, for having us back on your blog Authors’ Interviews. We are delighted to share our news with you and your book lovers. J.R. and I wish you, your family, and your readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Happy Holidays! Best in health, Lee & J.R. Watch out for those ghosts!
Coauthor with J.R. Matheson
Shine Your Light, Paige Maddison Series, FriesenPress
Amazon Best Selling Author Teens & YA Ghost Stories
Amazon Hot New Releases #2 Paperback Edition