I'm delighted that Canadian author Pam Robertson has taken time out of her busy day to be the guest on my blog today.
Pam has worked as a teacher, soldier, and celebrity chutney chef. She gets her kicks writing about fearless characters, some with supernatural tendencies, despite being afraid of walking through the woods in the dark. Pam has had short stories, several chapters in best-selling self help books, magazine articles, a series of three journals, and books published. If she disappears from the internet occasionally, it’s probably because she is making a mess of the kitchen, or working on a large number of partially completed quilt projects.
Pam's latest novel, Border Pieces - a Morgan Winfield Novella is due for release on the 30th October and if the synopsis is anything to go by, it is definitely one to add to your 'to be read list.'
"As a 40ish Canadian Spy, Morgan may not be exactly what people expect, but she is who she wants to be and doing work she is good at. From her beautiful apartment in Halifax, she is assigned to work with an Irish spy she hasn’t seen in a few years, Jake Rory. Morgan is attracted to Jake, there is no question about it, and she has to remind herself more than once to stop looking at him so closely.
They set to work, putting a stop to assassins in Nova Scotia, and then heading to Fort McMurray to find that there are more than just embers of discontent after the raging fire of 2016.
Morgan is not a movie style spy. She doesn’t show up for work in 4-inch heels or Spandex. She prefers jeans and t-shirts. She’s a good shot in a firefight. She is serious about getting the job done, and doesn’t do well when there is a lot of down time, especially when she is forced to rest after a serious incident.
While Morgan is recovering, she visits Wales and her cousin to explore her family tree and uncovers the source of her uncanny intuition. She is just getting the hang of being back at work when a terrible shock sends her into a tailspin and she suddenly retires, with plans to write a book. But, with her publisher saying her book is not quite ready, an unexpected offer for her apartment and a call from the agency pleading for her to return, she soon finds herself in a renovated bunker in London, England ready to help covert operators around the world.
This is the first book of Morgan’s adventures with two more stories currently planned."
Pam was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing process and offer some advice to budding writers.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Depends on the day, honestly! When I first started writing Border Pieces, the novella introducing Morgan Winfeld, it just came out of me like crazy. I wrote 10,000 words over a long weekend and it really set the foundation for the book, and that level of progress also spurred me on to keep going. However, writing is cognitively demanding to me, too so I can feel physically drained after a long session, or several sessions over several days in a row.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
There are lots. Thinking that your friends will buy your book, and that they are the only people you need at a book launch…people posing as publishers or agents when they are in no position to claim that and have no experience in the industry…writers thinking they can edit their own work…and being convinced that writing a book can be done for free.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes. My first novel and short stories were published under a pseudonym because I thought I needed to keep my writing separate from the other work I do. It’s much more difficult, of course, to be an indie author writing under a pseudonym because you’ve got to build a brand under that name and absolutely nobody knows who that person is.
Do you aim to be original or deliver a story that readers want?
It’s an interesting balance. Certainly when you are writing fiction and want a large readership, an author better deliver what readers want. At the same time, I’m not interested in recreating what other authors have done…so my goal is to be original, and create a story that once readers hear about it, they can’t wait to get their hands on.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Without giving something away here, the hardest scene was a turning point with Jake. I wrote it, and then took it out of the book because I felt like it took away too much from Morgan’s story to leave it in there, but I needed it available as a reference and part of the backstory. So, the scene is on my computer and firmly implanted in my head, but it’s not in the book.
Finally, do you believe in writer's block?
I know people who are absolutely convinced they have writer’s block, and yet when you dig down there are usually one of two things going on: either they aren’t clear on what they want to write about (they’ll write to a certain point and then not know what should happen next), or they start to doubt their abilities as a writer. The first is remedied by getting clear on the message, and deciding where the book should go. To help, you can try writing from a different character’s perspective; or write about the end and then work backward to the middle; or “interview” the characters and get them to help you as a writer. These exercises don’t necessarily make it into the book; they are simply meant to get the writer writing again.
If a writer is stuck because they are doubt their abilities then there are lots of things they can do, but they’ve got to apply discipline to make it happen. They might need to address issues around self-esteem, or they might need to confront the fear that is cropping up (fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of being publicly acknowledged as a writer). Or, maybe it’s true that their writing really is not up to snuff. Joining writing groups and associations can help a writer assess their own writing and see what others are doing. Those groups can also be a safe place to test your writing, though you’ve got to find the right group. I’ve seen groups try to totally change the way someone writes because they have this “ideal” about what writing is, even though not everyone wants to sound like, say, Margaret Atwood.
Border Pieces - A Morgan Winfield Novella is available from Amazon in both print and ebook formats.