Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.
JE (Jayne) Barnard is a Calgary-based crime writer with 25 years of award-winning short fiction and children’s literature behind her. Author of the popular Maddie Hatter Adventures (Tyche Books), and now The Falls Mysteries (Dundurn Press), she’s won the Dundurn Unhanged Arthur, the Bony Pete, and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award. Her works were shortlisted for the Prix Aurora (twice), the UK Debut Dagger, the Book Publishing in Alberta Award (twice), and three Great Canadian Story prizes. Jayne is a past VP of Crime Writers of Canada, a founder of Calgary Crime Writers, and a member of Sisters In Crime. Her most recent book is When the Flood Falls, a small-town psychological thriller set in the Alberta foothills west of Calgary, and her upcoming one is the sequel, Where the Ice Falls (Dundurn, July 2019), set at Christmas in those wild lands.
Wolf: Glad you could come by. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Jayne: I give my characters – most of them – other characters who love them and genuinely want what’s best for their lives. That’s not to say there aren’t miscommunications and occasional disappointments, but that underpinning the characters’ lives are other characters who support them the way I would love to be backstopped by friends and family.
Wolf: What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Jayne: Just one mean thing?
Wolf: Yes, Sorry, just one please.
Jayne: I routinely cost them their jobs and financial security. I’ve made one homeless. I threaten their loved ones with danger and death. I dangle them off cliffs, punt them into flooding rivers, lock them into burning buildings. But the worst thing I’ve ever done (and it was so heart-wrenching that I had to do it off-page) was letting the dog die. Don’t ask. It was so traumatic that I still weep whenever I see a Golden Retriever.
Wolf: I hear you. I’m a huge dog person. How about you? Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
Jayne: For all that I adore Goldens (and solicit donations for Golden Rescue Canada whenever I can although I’m in no way affiliated with the group; see www.goldenrescue.ca for more information), I’ve been a cat-slave since my earliest years and am never happier than when there’s one or more feline treating me like comfy furniture to nap on in the sunshine.
Wolf: Cats can be sweet. Some of them. While walking in the woods you come across…
Jayne: Funny you should ask. Lacey McCrae, my urbanite ex-cop in The Falls Mysteries, spends a lot of time walking in the woods. And jogging in them, x-country skiing, hunting for missing people…. I’ve done all those things too, in a past stage of life. Never found a dead body but I’ve searched for a few. What I’d most like to find is a lamppost. Or a wardrobe and then a lamppost. I’d give that White Witch a taste of her own Turkish Delight. Seriously – any portal to another dimension. It comes up often in my fantasy writing.
Wolf: Cool. There is a door at the end of a dark, damp corridor. You hear rumbling. What do you do?
Jayne: Hey, I’ve read Jane Eyre. I’d get a fire extinguisher and a tranquilizer gun before I ever opened that door. But because I also found Wide Sargasso Sea compelling and highly possible, I’d bring along some chocolate and a hug. And a good lawyer for that locked-up wife, because she’d damn sure have a lawsuit worth pursuing in today’s world.
Wolf: Smart choices. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Jayne: Depending on mood and weather, I might be answering this question differently every time I’m asked. Today my favourite is Maddie Hatter, runaway daughter of Britain’s Third Steamlord, who’s making a precarious living as a fashion reporter when the story of a lifetime falls into her lace-gloved hands, carrying her by airship from Egypt to England and onward in search of batty Baron Bodmin and his legendary Bloodstained Diamond (see Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond, Tyche Books, 2015). She’s had three zany Adventures and my agent & I are discussing a further trilogy.
Wolf: What is your favorite body of water and why? (river, ocean, waterfall, puddle, bottle…)
Jayne: Definitely the Pacific Ocean. I lived on the west side of Vancouver Island as a child and ever since then have gotten dehydration of the spirit if I’m too far inland for too long. Now that I’m past my workforce years and my children are adults, I spend half the winter on Vancouver Island, rarely more than a mile from the sea. On fine afternoons I take my coffee to the shore to sit with the waves and the sea birds, listening to the seals bark, watching for whales, petting the dogs and chatting to their walkers.
Wolf: Sounds very peaceful. What story are you working on now?
Jayne: This winter I’m editing Where the Ice Falls, the second in The Falls Mystery trilogy. It’s a contemporary suspense involving people going missing in the frozen Alberta foothills, and a psychologically demanding book to edit because it also involves a terminally-ill mother and her daughter grappling with the question of whether to apply for medically assisted dying (MAID, now legal in Canada but unevenly available across jurisdictions). My father went out via that route last winter, a whole year after I had planned this book, and the storms of emotions I survived during his journey opened my eyes – and maybe my veins – to that fictional daughter.
Wolf: Sound interesting. Thanks for visiting. Connect with Jayne through these links:
Eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population. Her power to heal may be overshadowed by more destructive abilities. Fleeing the persecution of those like her, Tatiana seeks refuge in a small town she once visited. But this civil haven, in a world where society has broken down, is beginning to crumble. Will Tatiana flee or stay and fight for the new life she has built? Only by harnessing the very forces that haunt her can Tatiana save her friends…and herself.