Monday, June 28, 2010

A Look Back at Scare the Light Away

Last weeks’ blog post about my second novel, Burden of Memory, was such fun, I thought I’d recall the first book, Scare the Light Away.

The books were actually written in the opposite order. When I finished Burden of Memory, Poisoned Pen Press was not accepting submissions. I sent it into a few other publishers, got enthusiastic but negative responses. As every writer should do, I dove straight into the next book and when it was ready, PPP’s doors were again open. I learned a lot from reviews and reactions to Scare the Light Away, so I made some major changes to Burden of Memory and off it went, and was accepted.

Scare the Light Away is also a standalone, similar in tone to Burden of Memory in that it is a contemporary psychological suspense with a back story of something that happened in World War II that is affecting events of today. No ghost story though.

In this case Rebecca McKenzie, a Vancouver investment banker, returns to her home and the family from whom she has been long estranged for her mother’s funeral. Down in the basement, buried in old wooden tea chests, she finds her mother’s diaries of her experiences in England during the War and then of coming to Canada as a war bride. She discovers a HUGE skeleton in the family closet.

Meanwhile, a young woman has disappeared and the small Northern Ontario town in an uproar. Rebecca’s brother, whom she has hated her whole life, is suspected of the crime. She must decide if she can put ancient animosities aside, with help from her mother’s dairies, and believe in her brother’s innocence.

(Incidentally, the town in the book is Huntsville, Ontario, much in the news this week as the site of Friday’s G8 meeting.)

Perhaps the character I most enjoyed looking back at is Samson, the dog, who plays an important part in the book. One reviewer said that Samson was the best and most realistic dog character to appear in a mystery novel in years. (In interests of being fair – another said the book suffered by the Timmy’s-fallen-into-a-well dog).

I did a lot of research into war brides, and got some lovely letters from readers telling me about their experiences. What I found most interesting was the unpleasant lives a lot of women came to in Canada. In many cases their young man had either lied to them about what his life was like in Canada or had simply made up a story and then didn’t know how to retract it. Vast ranch spreads turned out to be hardscrabble farms, and wealthy families to be labouring working-class. Women from close-knit English villages or the pleasant countryside found themselves stuck in the Canadian wilderness, sometimes hundreds of miles from the neighbours. Remember that even sixty years ago, when someone left England for a life in Canada or the U.S., unless they were fairly wealthy there was an expectation that they would never be able to return for a visit. Never see their families again.

The world is changing so fast that even the lives of our own parents can seem so very different than our own.

But of course when it comes to love and hate and redemption and revenge, nothing every changes.

NOTE: Both Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory are now available for Kindle and most other e-book formats.

1 comment:

Charlotte Hinger said...

Sounds like a terrific book,Vicki.
As a Kansas historian, I know how many women were desperately lonely on the prairie