I was invited to join the Writing Process blog tour by Victoria children’s author Jenny Watson. I first met Jenny when she came riding up on her bike to help put together goodie bags for Bloody Words 2011. She was a hard working volunteer throughout the conference. Since then our paths have crossed at many writing events, and I was delighted to attend the launch of her first book, Prove It, Josh. She’s also given me valuable tips on cycling for my current project. You can find out more about Jenny on her website and read her Blog Hop post at
1) What am I working on?
I write a series of police procedurals featuring RCMP Constable (now Corporal) Danutia Dranchuk, who works out of Island District headquarters in Victoria, Vancouver Island. I’m now working on the fourth book in the series, tentatively titled Tour de Mort. It’s a fictional version of the first Tour de Rock, a 1000-kilometre bike ride down Vancouver Island by a team of police officers and media people to raise money for pediatric cancer research and to fund Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp for children affected by cancer.
My husband Chris Bullock, who is co-author on two of the three previous books, hadn’t intended to join me for this one, but I’ve recently roped him in so that I can enjoy our trip to England with our granddaughter and still finish the manuscript on time. We began the research several years ago, when we visited northern communities during the Tour; we’ve also spoken with many riders from various years. It’s a demanding book because I’m linking the Tour with a subplot involving environmental causes of cancer.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My answer to this question is like Jenny Watson’s: My work reflects the way I see the world, and therefore differs from the work of other writers, who each have unique ways of seeing. More precisely, Danutia Dranchuk is not the jaded, hard-drinking male cop so often portrayed in police procedurals. Rather she is a young woman in a non-traditional occupation, trying to come to terms with her past and achieve some balance between work and personal life.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I spent many years teaching literature and writing courses in university, as did Chris, and we collaborated on academic articles and textbooks. When we decided to do a writing project together that would be fun, we naturally turned to mysteries, which we both enjoyed as leisure reading. I don’t consider mysteries merely escapist reading, however; the best crime fiction, to my mind, tackles social issues that seldom appear in mainstream fiction. I’m interested in the social and psychological roots of poverty, addiction, and violence, for example. Crime fiction gives me an opportunity to explore these and other issues through characters’ lives.
4) How does my writing process work?
Left to myself, I work slowly and organically. The idea of setting a book around the Tour de Rock came to me years before I began it, for example, and Chris and I did our initial research while we were writing Unholy Rites. I like to do a lot of research and then let the plot and characters emerge from what I’ve discovered. This method of working drives Chris crazy, however, and so when we work together, we start by developing a plot outline, though the outline changes as we go along. I like creating a character and then discovering that some tiny and seemingly arbitrary detail takes on resonance as the story develops. I revise a lot, both as I go and after I have a draft, building up the story in layers. If I worked out a detailed synopsis before I began, as some writers do, I would find writing the book boring.
Now I’d like to introduce you to two writers who will join the Writing Process Blog Hop tour on June 30, Garry Ryan and Cathy Ace.
Chris and I met Garry, along with other Vancouver Island crime novelists, when we shared a panel promoting our first novel, A Deadly Little List, and Garry’s second, The Lucky Elephant Restaurant. We also shared a bookmark, courtesy of our publisher, NeWest Press. The bookmark became an anomaly as years passed and we changed publishers. However, I’ve known Garry best through his work on the Crime Writers of Canada Board of Directors, where his was a calm voice of reason in difficult times.
The Lucky Elephant Restaurant went on to win a 2007 Lambda Literary Award and in 2009, Garry was awarded Calgary’s Freedom of Expression Award. He has now published eight novels with NeWest Press, six Detective Lane mysteries and two historical novels featuring a woman transport pilot in the Second World War. You can find out more about Garry at www.garryryan.ca and on Facebook at
Cathy is another crime writer I met through a joint event, though one much more recent. Cathy writes the bestselling Cait Morgan Mysteries featuring her foodie professor of criminal psychology who seems to trip over a corpse whenever she leaves home on her travels around the world. Cathy has brought a whirlwind of energy to her new writing career, serving on the Crime Writers of Canada board and organizing events in Vancouver and Victoria. Find her Blog Hop post on Facebook at Cathy Ace - Author.