Pursuing a crazy dream

When people discover that I’m a published author as well as a journalist, one of the first questions they tend to ask...

When people discover that I’m a published author as well as a journalist, one of the first questions they tend to ask (after the query about money, to which the answer always greatly disappoints) is about rejection. When, they ask, should you give up on your dream?

The answer obviously depends on exactly what your dream is, but if it falls into the realm of possibility, such as climbing Mt. Everest or having a book accepted by a publisher, then the answer is never. Apart from a dab of talent, the one thing any writer needs is perserverance.

My latest mystery, Angel With A Bullet (read the opening chapters on Page 27 in a special four-part serialization) is a case in point. I wrote the first draft of this novel 22 years ago. Yep, you read that right, over two decades. I was a young journalist at the time and working for the Calgary Herald. Although I loved my career, I felt that I had let myself down by not continuing my pursuit and love of fiction. I was newly married, had my first mortgage, and my wife and I were talking about starting a family — yet I still had this burning need to see if I could turn this idea I had into a full-length novel.

I’ve been writing all my life for as far back as I can remember, but never received any particular praise or outside encouragement for it. I wasn’t the star student in English class or a stand-out in drama, but I’ve always burned with the need to be a storyteller. Journalism has allowed me to hone my word skills, but it’s fiction that lights up my imagination.

So 20-odd years ago, I sat down and began to write a novel about a young journalist in San Francisco who becomes suspicious about the death of a famous local artist. It took me close to a year to write and edit and rewrite and edit, and then I sent it out into the publishing world to find a home.

It didn’t. The rejections piled up from agents and publishers. Most of them were generic, but enough small words of encouragement snuck through to let me know that maybe I wasn’t completely useless.

Over the next two decades I continued to work for newspapers, raised my family and moved mortgages around to different homes and different provinces. I also managed to find the time to write a few more novels that have been published in Canada, the UK, Germany, Taiwan and Russia. Then, I decided that I should rewrite that first novel as I still loved the ideas and characters contained within. Three weeks after I finished the rewrite, a U.S. publisher snapped it up and will be releasing it in Canada and the U.S. on Sept. 8 as the first in a new mystery series.

I hope you enjoy the excerpts that Monday will be running over the next four weeks, and I really hope many of you will join me at Chapters Victoria for the long-awaited launch on Sat., Sept. 8, at 2pm. M

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