I Chose My Career at an Early Age
When I was seven, I made the decision to write mystery stories after struggling to read my first Nancy Drew mystery, plowing my way past a whole lot of words I didn’t understand or even recognize. Emerging from the unbearably boring readers in school, I couldn’t believe a story could be so exciting as The Mystery in the Old Attic, and no one else could be as brave and as clever as Nancy.
My future was settled. I would write mystery stories for children when I grew up and give them the same thrill I had when I discovered Nancy Drew. I was resolute until a few years later when my father gave me an Agatha Christie murder mystery – I was riveted. Murder was the hook. Yes. Forget the kids, I decided, since they wouldn’t be able to read about anything as terrifying as murder; I would write murder mysteries for adults instead. I was ten years old at the time.
Earning a Living Was the First Priority
I was born in Rossland and grew up in Castlegar, both small towns in the Kootenay Valley in British Columbia. After high school, I enrolled in Fine Arts at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, planning on a major in commercial art. I wanted to write but needed to earn a living as well.
My strength was English and I would eventually take a degree in it, but at the time, I was afraid an English major would land me in a classroom, teaching, like all the other women in my family. I brilliantly escaped into the art world, and two years later, landed in a classroom, teaching, like all the other women in my family. I had run out of money, had to leave university, and teaching was my fate – there was no escape.
Teaching Was a Welcome Haven
Much to my surprise, I loved the children and the teaching and stayed in the profession both before my marriage and part-time afterwards, between the births of my three children, two daughters and a son.
We moved east to the little town of Kanata, near Ottawa and, for a while, I was content raising children, vegetables, and flowers and, in my spare time, writing, painting, and sometimes teaching. I sold my paintings, and a couple of the many short stories I wrote, but produced no books, mystery or otherwise.
My children were born close together when I was still very young and, in those days, mothers stayed home with their children if they could and if I had to do it all over again, I would do it all over again. We had very little money, but I felt lucky to have that happy life.
My Favorite Jobs Combined My Favorite Pastimes
When my children were raised and heading off to university, I began a new career, working for a small town newspaper in the production department: layout, paste-up, and design. I drew the weekly editorial cartoons and signed them with the pseudonym “E.G.O.” meaning exactly what it spells: “ego,” something you need in abundance if you draw editorial cartoons. I wrote when I could find the time.
A few years later, a friend and I started a magazine with national distribution for the 55 + crowd called Meridian for the 55 Plus. I wrote, edited, drew cartoons, and designed and constructed ads. It was fun, but although it paid for itself, there was very little left over for the principals, meaning the two of us. I was pleased when a larger magazine was willing to buy out Meridian and so it was sold and we moved on.
About that time, I finished off my degree by correspondence from the University of Waterloo, and graduated the same year that my youngest child did. He beat me by a month, which made me the last one in the family to earn a degree.
I was finally qualified for the perfect job for me – publications manager for the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. I was able to write, edit, design, and even draw, and I remained there happily for 10 years, the longest I had ever stayed in any job.
I Took My Favorite Pastimes and Escaped to the Ocean
Eventually, however, my children married, my grandchildren started arriving, and I fled to the mild BC coast to escape the icy winters and the hot, humid summers of eastern Canada. I now live in Tsawwassen, a small town near Vancouver, with the ocean a few blocks away.
I have a free-lance writing and editing career, and some research jobs, which gives me time to write my mystery stories. I’ve finished several and finalized two – a mystery for children, which I’ve illustrated, and a murder mystery for adults – and I’m working on another.
It’s all coming together. At last.