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Juggling two worlds

When journalist Olivia Glauberzon asked to interview me for a Toronto Star article on people coping with two jobs, I agreed readily. I had plenty to say on the subject. I’ve earned my living as a journalist since I was in my early twenties because I loved words and I wanted to work with them. Sadly, fiction writing couldn’t guarantee an income, which I needed, so I found work with a newspaper, first as a reporter and later as a reviewer and an editor. The newspaper jobs took me across Canada, as far west as the Calgary Herald.

Somewhere along the way, I started writing fiction. At the beginning, I gave myself permission to write on Sundays, after five days of paid work and a sixth day attending to housework and grocery shopping. Note that I used the word permission. I felt I could only spend time creating fiction when all my other bases had been covered.

I found that my journalism background helped a great deal. I’d been trained to write tight, punchy prose for newspapers, and this kind of writing translates well into the crime fiction genre. I’d also spent years interviewing people for articles, and my ear was attuned to the nuances of the spoken word and to idiosyncratic speech patterns. And when I started writing the Pat Tierney mysteries, my work as a financial journalist came into play. Pat is a financial advisor and knows that money is a great motive for all sorts of crime, even murder. As a journalist, I’ve written about money laundering, fraud, unscrupulous financial professionals and the need for better investor protection. Pat dealt with all these issues in her stories.

A number of years ago, I started working as a freelance journalist in order to have more control over my time. I freed up my summers to write fiction exclusively. Now I have three mystery novels (the third will be released later this spring) and a number of published short stories. And I’m spending a lot of time on book marketing—joining other writers in panel discussions at libraries and other venues, and hunkering over my computer with online marketing.

I refuse to give up my two worlds. I like creating fiction. I like keeping abreast of what goes on in the real world of finances. Sometimes it’s stranger than fiction.

My worlds have actually expanded to three. I’ve just finished 12 weeks of teaching novel writing at George Brown College, and I look forward to continue teaching this course when student enrolment permits.

It can be stressful when deadlines collide: when proofreading a book, finishing up an article, and marking students’ writing assignments all have to be done in the same week. Stressful, but exhilarating too when these tasks are all completed.

But then I’m a glutton for punishment.

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