- Does writing energize or exhaust you? Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get started but once ‘in’ the time flies. I leave this world and am immersed in the work. I love that feeling when the heart starts to race a little; there’s a fullness to the breath; a hum in the muscles.
- What is your writing Kryptonite? Procrastination in all its wily disguises.
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I have enough challenges figuring out who I am on any given day with the names I DO have. I generally go by Laurel Deedrick-Mayne. How can you tell I got married in the eighties when everyone was double-barrelling their names? A pseudonym would only confuse the issue.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I’m friends with a number of other authors and I am always simultaneously inspired, intimidated and encouraged by them. Some have such tremendous self-discipline. Others are such Smarty Pants I whither in their presence. But all of them remind me of the endlessly vast stories that are worthy of being told.
- Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I definitely want each book to stand alone. A Wake For The Dreamland was Canadian Historical Fiction spanning 1939-1979 and somewhat male-centric, taking place during WWII and the aftermath. The new project is about an intrepid nurse in the Yukon from 1949-1958. There is some crossover in time period and sexual orientation of protagonists. Ironically, the published memoir of said nurse was titled: No Man Stands Alone.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Every penny I’ve spent has been worth it but the highlight greatest honour was touring the battlefields of Sicily and Italy with very elderly Veterans who were paying homage to their fallen friends, comrades and their own youth.
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? In the 60’s when I was very young the Jello company changed all their boxes to the same colour with the differing flavours merely spelled out on the box but no associated colour; ie: No yellow on the lemon, purple on the grape etc. My mother fired off a letter to the company and in no time flat we received a great parcel of – you guessed it – JELLO – in ALL the appropriate colours. But seriously, the power of words was bred in my bones: my forebears being great correspondents, my grandfather- a broadcaster and journalist. I grew up to the tap of the typewriter and texture of imprint on the page.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? I don’t actually have one.
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? I spent a considerable amount of time writing at the Banff Centre in the Rocky Mountains and would often be visited by deer outside my studio window. They would stand stock still, always listening, alert, responsive, agile and swift. I took cues from them. As a writer I watch, listen carefully and when struck with an idea, run with it.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? There are three on the stove but only one on the burner.
- What does literary success look like to you? Touching, connecting with readers. For example, at one of over 50 book clubs, a woman said she’d always had a problematic relationship with her father and not much sympathy or respect or even love for him but she knew he had been in the Italian campaign during WWII. While reading my book she felt like she began to understand what he had gone through, and she felt more compassion. She cried as she told this story because he had passed away and she could never tell him. That’s pretty powerful stuff. The book seems to inspire people to think about that generation which has largely passed on now and share their own stories. I’d call that success. Of course being 67 times on Edmonton’s Best Seller List means people are still buying and reading and talking about the book and that is hugely satisfying. Winning the Alberta Readers Choice Award and being a Finalist for the Whistler Independent Book Prize are both great honours, but somehow it still feels like I just got lucky. Many people want to write but never do. Success is in the process and completing the project to the best of one’s ability. Anyone who has climbed that mountain and finished a book has already achieved something extraordinary and should be celebrated. Literary success is probably subjective and certainly fleeting and hardly the most important thing in life.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? My method was to write the heart of each scene and honour the story first and foremost, at least in early drafts. I conduct my research concurrently, strengthening and supporting the story as I delve deeper into the well and wormholes of research. Some authors get so excited about what they have learned that they wear their research on their sleeve and it can get in the way of the story. It’s easy to fall into that trap because the learning is tremendously rewarding and exciting and we kind of want to shout our discoveries from the rooftops. I have read every page of the Regimental diary, hordes of newspapers (British, Canadian and Local) from the war years, dozens of books, listened to audio recordings and read countless diaries and letters and collected hours of interviews BUT that should not be blatantly evident to a reader. I have read books where all the clever and obvious research overshadowed the characters and their drama. I have followed in the footsteps of the Canadians in Sicily and Italy with Veterans who were revisiting. I have to know all those gory details and all of that research is the bedrock of the book but what appears on the page must be more lively and transparent and leave some room for the reader to connect and use their own imagination.
- How many hours a day/week do you write? I still only have one designated day but much of my life revolved around child and elder care with my last book. My mother died the week my book went to press and my father 444 days later and I have been working through the process of grieving, settling estates, etc. etc. Life can get in the way and that isn’t a ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse. It is the way the world turns. I should soon be able to add at least one more day/week.
- How do you select the names of your characters? Oh, I know it sounds corny but they kind of introduced themselves to me. I made a couple subtle changes as I went along. Part of my editing process includes reading aloud and recording and if a name (or anything for that matter) doesn’t sound right, then it isn’t right and needs to be tweaked a little.
- What was your hardest scene to write? Some of the war scenes nearly broke my heart but were also the most satisfying. It wasn’t a technical challenge but an emotional one. Some of the love scenes had me in hysterics and gave me a whole new appreciation for writers who can pull them off.
- Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? Writing is like being an explorer and it is great fun for me to try different genres on for size: Goldie Locks-ing my way around the story finding what feels right, challenging myself, flexing my writing muscles. Even if I trip and fall, success is the quality of the journey. Quick! Call the Cliché Police.
- How long have you been writing? Since I could hold a pencil
- What inspires you? Oh—simply this crazy thing called life.
- How do you find or make time to write? It’s my biggest challenge. And fear. Because I think there is so much to write about I’m afraid I’d never stop. But there’s a great deal of living to do as well and I don’t want to miss that.
- What projects are you working on at the present? The work-in-progress is looking like a combustible and controversial biography. It’s about Amy Wilson, a Nurse In the Yukon. You can even Google her. It’s scary as hell, for many cultural and political reasons.
- What do your plans for future projects include? There’s a Prisoner of War, WWI era play (or maybe musical) on a back burner. It’s not as ridiculous as that sounds.
- Share a link to your author website. awakeforthedreamland.com
Once an Arts Administrator, Laurel Deedrick-Mayne has been a dance publicist, concert promoter, ad copywriter and box office bunny. She has served on multiple arts boards while maintaining her ‘day job’ as a massage therapist. Her independently published debut novel, A Wake For The Dreamland won the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award in 2016 and has been on Edmonton’s Best Seller List for 67 weeks. She has been a guest at over 60 book clubs and other book-related events. A late bloomer to publishing but a life-long third generation letter and story writer, Laurel celebrates the ‘love that dared not speak it’s name’ while paying tribute to the generation who took the time to hang on to family letters, clippings, stories and poetry — all those ‘treasures’ that inspired A Wake For The Dreamland.
Find Laurel at Words in the Park, Spark Gallery, Premier Way, Sherwood Park, Alberta on 29th September 2018