I visited The Hidden Village in 2005, 2007 and decided, after reading the history at the site, that children in North America had to know the story. The man I interviewed was the boy in the Village and he inspired me as well.
How did you come up with the title?
My publisher chose the title and I liked it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want them to proclaim “Never Again” – that inhumanity and evil will not be repeated against anyone anymore, especially children!
How much of the book is realistic?
It is all realistic; most of it really happened, and the few fictionalized parts could have happened. It is not fantasy.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The characters are based on the boy and his family upon whose stories the novel is based. I met “Walter” when I interviewed him about his life in the Hidden Village.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Readers can and have found me on Facebook. I am also on Twitter and I have a blog.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
This novel is a stand alone book. I have no present plans for another novel, but I have written two children’s books that could be picture books, but I have to “finesse” them before I submit to publishers.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
My favourite is Walter of course. I met him as an adult and after listening to his stories, I could see the little boy he may have been – intelligent, precocious, sensitive and devoted to family. I heard his voice in my head as I wrote the book.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
This is my first book, so this genre is presently my favourite. But if I were to pick a genre, it would be books for children – historical or historical fiction.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Sometimes I sit down and just write and forget to eat and pretty soon it’s dark. The next day I have to review what I wrote. I plan in my head, but I am more a seat of the pants author I would think. During this process, in my revisions, I would go back to previous chapters and add something I thought about. I was constantly re-reading and changing. But with this book, I did have a plan and it was somewhat sequential because it was based on real life. I don’t know what I would do if I had to write fiction. Not sure I could do fiction; I need some facts.
What is your best marketing tip?
The best marketing items were the bookmarks from the publisher. I have handed out/mailed/presented over 1000 bookmarks since April. They have the title, author and contacts for ordering. For a “tip”, I would say to be consistent and approach bookstores in person to offer your time to do signings/readings. If this is your first book, lead with something that your publisher might have published in the past that would be known to a bookseller. They seem to worry about risking their time on a first-time, unknown author.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
My publisher wanted me to have Facebook and Twitter (both public) and a blog. What I find hindering is keeping up, and not overwhelming or underwhelming readers. I am not a fan of social media and I’ve resisted Instagram mainly because it involves photos and most of the exciting photos from the launches are old now. Not getting feedback from any social media posts is disconcerting; I get likes etc from friends, but nobody new has really seemed to read or respond. I did get messages from students in Belgium and The Netherlands. They were doing book reports on the book and wanted information about the author. They communicated through Facebook.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being an abstract random thinker, writing forces me to focus and let the ideas flow, blocking out any other distractions. What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I was probably 9 years old. Poems came later – in university when I was in love; it just promoted poetry all over the place!
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
The first stories I wrote were based on pictures from magazines. It was fiction back then.
What genre are you currently reading?
Currently I am reading biography – In My Own Words (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
Pleasure and escapism
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
Where is your favorite writing space?
I only have one writing space – my den. If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Geraldine Brooks, because she wrote a book about penpals and I’d love to swap stories with her.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Terschelling, an island in the North Sea, in Holland…or… Vancouver (if I could afford it).
Do you see writing as a career?
I am retired so no career for me.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
I actually forget to eat when I am in the throes of writing.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
I don’t set deadlines; being retired there are no deadlines. It took me from September 2008 until April 2018 to get the book written, edited, revised and published, in between substitute teaching part-time, traveling, volunteering, reading and daily living.
Born in Winnipeg, raised in a Saskatchewan village, with no running water or TV until she was 12, Janet Wees was a voracious reader. She borrowed books through the mail from the lending library in Regina to quench her curiosity about the world. Radio and Eaton’s Xmas catalogue were sources of entertainment. Being a precocious child, her mother sent her, at age 5, to grade 1 every Friday afternoon. In Grade 8 the principal would ask Janet to “sub” for a Grade 1 teacher who was late for school, occasionally. Thus began a passion for teaching and learning.
Janet attended the Universities of Saskatchewan, Calgary, and Oregon gaining her B.Ed in Special Education, and an M.Ed in Gifted and Talented Education. During her tenure she was involved in professional committees, was a volunteer for the Calgary Youth Science Fair and set up pen pal, environmental, Young Olympians, running, and debate clubs where she was a debate coach and a judge at local and international levels. In her off-times, Janet was a semi-professional photographer for the Calgary Sun, taking photos of Sunshine Boys. It was the 80’s!
In 1959 Janet began writing a pen pal in Holland. It was while on vacation in Holland, with the family, that she discovered The Hidden Villlage and the seed for her book took root.
Now retired, Janet lives in Calgary where her daughter also resides. She is a volunteer greeter at the Calgary Airport, and enjoys reading (favourites are Jhumpa Lahiri, Rona Altrows and Geraldine Brooks) writing letters (400 a year!), travel, snowshoeing, old movies, writing stories, and photography.
What inspired your latest novel? – I have written a trilogy and two children’s books. My trilogy, Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairy tale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy. My published children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, comes from my experiences as a professional Nanny. My soon-to-be published, children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, comes from my childhood fantasies.
How did you come up with the title? The real name of the cottage in my trilogy was Scotland Lodge. I didn’t want to use that name so I changed it to Merryweather Lodge. I thought it sounded cozy and quaint and a tad mysterious.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My protagonist, Emily Fletcher, has a message. She is an attractive, strong-willed young woman, who struggles with her self-image, volatile temper and bad habits. She’s a vegetarian and a progressive thinker. Like me, she likes her own space and often wanders into the country to ponder and seek solace from Mother Nature. She has always dreamt of living a simple life, in her aunts enchanting little cottage, with her gorgeous prince charming. Slowly, she learns how to conquer her fears, get in touch with her intuition, overcome her struggles, tame her temper and enhance her self-esteem.
How much of the book is realistic? My books are fiction, with an element of truth.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? My characters are bits and pieces of the personalities and characteristics of myself, friends, relatives, acquaintances, the woman behind the counter, etc. And yes, they are based on events in my own life.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I do not have a blog anymore. Here is my website paulineholyoak.com You will find links to my social media sites on there.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a standalone? I am working on a standalone, paranormal, suspense novel. And, I have a middle grade book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, due to be released this spring.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? My reader’s favorite Merryweather Lodge character was my protagonist’s aunt, Auntie Em. She was, not only in her appearance but in her personality and idiosyncrasies, a mixture of my mother and grandmother. All their good parts blended into one.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? Actually, I write in a lot of different genres. My short stories range from, political lit to romance. My trilogy is paranormal suspense. I am now in the process of writing a paranormal romance. My children’s books cover a wide range of genres.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Seat of the pants, for sure.
What is your best marketing tip? Keep a consistent online presence. And, hand out as many bookmarks, promo cards etc. as you can afford.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I think the internet, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote ones book, some are free and some are very costly. I blog, tweet, do online interviews, reviews, facebook and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but I know it’s an important element in establishing my writing career.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. LOL
Has your genre changed or stayed the same? I have always like to cover a wide range of genres.
What genre are you currently reading? Suspense.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Pleasure.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? My muse.
Where is your favorite writing space? My office. It is my private domain, my retreat, with my favorite quotes, family pics and art work, created by my granddaughters, on the walls. No one is allowed in there but me! LOL
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? No, but I’m thinking of starting one.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? Probably Steven King. I love his books and he always has such great advice. There are so many…
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I would love to live part of the year in England. I was born and grew up there. I adore the English countryside. It is a smorgasbord for the artistically inclined.. I would have moved back there years ago, if it weren’t for my children and now, grandchildren.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Oh yes. Dark chocolate and red wine. Yummy!!!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? Dark chocolate and red wine..LOL
About me – I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” Go to my website, click on ‘Articles’ and find out why. I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life. I currently live in Alberta with my adorable sheltie dog. I am the proud mother of two grown children and three adorable granddaughters’.
As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. I remember writing a story in school; I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me, I kept writing whatever, just, came out of my head. In my teen years my journal became my confident, revealing all my hidden secrets, private fantasies and wild, wild, notions within its pages. Later I started to write poems, articles and short stories, and pondered the thought of becoming a writer.
After I settled in Canada, I buried my dreams under layers of real life clutter. I chose a safe and practical career in child care, married and raised a family. But my creative spirit kept trying to dig its way out. I was asked to write articles and editorials for our local church. I taught a story time class at our local school, which lead me to writing a children’s book. I wrote an article about my husbands’ prestigious grandfather and sent it to our local newspaper. They printed it. I kept sending them articles, they kept printing them. I was surprised at the compliments I received from the editor and readers. It was evident to me then, that I had excavated my creative spirit.
I decided to take a comprehensive writing course to improve my technique. With help from a proficient and supportive tutor, who told me I had a gift, I began to cultivate my skill. My articles started to sell and I received an assignment from a major Canadian magazine. I have spent the past 25 years writing, articles, short stories and books.
About my trilogy – Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairytale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy.
The first book in my Merryweather Lodge trilogy Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge, was the Readers Favorite 2011 Silver Award Winner for paranormal fiction. Book two, Merryweather Lodge – Malevolent Spirit, was a Readers Favorite finalist. My first children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, is about a strong willed young girl with a wild and wacky imagination. It is published by, Wee Creek Press. I have just sighed a publishing contract for my second children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream.. Yay! Twenty five of my articles have been published.