Saturday, August 05, 2006

Going North

Vicki here,

Tomorrow I'm heading North for my annual weekend with my old high school crowd. Sorry, that's not 'old', it should read 'friends of long acquaintance'. Six of us – Karen, Jackie, Leslie, Christine, Pat and me - still keep in touch and once a year we get together at Pat and Roy’s cottage on Lake Muskoka. We lie in the sun, we read, we swim, we talk, we play board games, we eat exceptionally well, and we might even have a drink or two out on the deck. I’ve been appointed chef tomorrow, so for dinner I’ll be making vegetable pate, served with small pitas, then planked oriental salmon done on the barbeque, grilled baby potatoes, fresh tomatoes sprinked with herbs from my garden, maple and cranberry salad, and my home-made (all the way from scratch – pastry and all) blueberry pie. Wanna come?

Then I’ll lie back for the rest of the week and let other people cook for me.

These days the time at Pat and Roy’s cottage is just a nice few days of relaxing and catching up with good friends. But for a few years, back in the days of teenage children, job troubles, not-much money, stress and worry, I really believe that my week at the cottage was what got me through the rest of the year. And I’ve always been grateful to Pat and Roy for giving me that.

What does all this have to do with murder, in the fictional sense? As well as providing a nice holiday every year, Muskoka has given me great settings for my books. Roy loves to take people out in his boat and show off the fabulous Muskoka lakes. Many times we’d tour what they call ‘Millionaires Row’ looking at the wonderful old cottages dotting the landscape. Most of Muskoka could now be called Millionaires’ Row, what with the price of property up there, but there is still something very special about the grand old places, some of which are close to a century old. “I wonder what it’s like,” I thought, “to belong to a family that owns one of those historic cottages.” And so the germ of an idea that would grow into Burden of Memory began to take shape. Scare the Light Away is set in the same general area, but in a much less fashionable home. For behind the narrow strip of multi-million-dollar cottages on the best lakes, there is a much less affluent demographic, struggling to get enough work in the short summer season to see them through the winter when the snow settles in and all the cottagers have gone back to the city.

After we go our separate ways for another year, I’ll keep going north. I’m planning to quit my job early next year (gulp). As well as writing, I’m hoping to get some work as a freelance editor (copy editing, manuscript evaluations, substantive editing – if you’re looking for an editor, drop me a line. Now back to our regular programming. ) I’m looking forward to having all the time I want to attend conferences and go on book tours. As part of the grand plan, I’m going to sell my house in Oakville and move up North. So next week I’m going to have a casual look around. See what’s available, what looks nice, what areas are reasonable.

And while I’m at it, I might come across an idea for a great book.

Vicki

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