Dear Summer…

I think it’s time for us to say good-bye.

Don’t think I don’t still love everything you had to offer. You were full of surprises. It was fun. Every single day was a new adventure, and I never knew quite what to expect. Sometimes we were lazy and spent the whole afternoon reading fantasy novels in the hammock under the apple tree. Sometimes we worked hard at making beautiful things. We explored new trails together, wrote beautiful poetry, and made all our friends jealous. You kept me on my toes. It was glorious. You were so full of hope and optimism, and a little bit crazy. Not really crazy, of course. Just a comfortable amount of crazy.

But everything has an end, and I think this is ours.

I respect you, so I’ll be honest. I’m seeing someone new.

Autumn has been hanging around my back door, making promises, and I’m intrigued. Cool nights? Changing leaves? Even a pumpkin spice latte? Yeah, I’ve been seduced.

But I hope we can still be friends, Summer. Maybe it’s time for us to explore new places and discover new things about ourselves. Maybe you could head south of the equator for a few months — I hear Australia is beautiful this time of year.

Love and kisses,



Big Wide World vs. Little Island

I live on an island, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a huge beautiful world on the other side of the strait, bustling with people and things and ideas. I know that sounds terribly isolationist. I grew up on the island and so my childhood was defined by water; if we went on a vacation, we had to take a ferry, so boat rides became synonymous with venturing into the great unknown.

When I was a teenager, I knew the farthest I could drive was two hours (either north or south), and then I’d hit water, and if it was after 10:30, no ferries would be running and there’d be no option to go any farther. I had a friend who’d never left the island – ever – and she didn’t exhibit any great desire to leave. Maybe we just knew we couldn’t afford to take the ferry, so we convinced ourselves that the island was enough. Or maybe we liked the sense of security that those ocean boundaries gave us, even if they were an illusion. (When a particular serial killer was stalking Vancouver’s children in the 1980s, I remember some of the adults talking openly about how we were safe here on the island, as if the Georgia Strait was a weird wall with the magical ability to keep out murderers. Not true, of course. Even as a kid, I sensed that was a strange level of bullshit to calm terrified minds. People are so good at lying to themselves, aren’t they?)

When I lived in Vancouver, I shed this sense of borders and boundaries, but not quickly. For a long time after moving to the mainland, I would wake in the middle of the night with thoughts like, “If I got in my car right now and drove east, I could go all the way to New York! Right now!” That sounds silly, now that I’ve written it down, but it’s true. It gradually lessened. Eventually I lost that insular sense of disconnection, and I became part of the larger world without the need to consciously remind myself that I was part of the larger world.

But when I came back to the island, I fell easily and effortlessly into the island mindset again. My environment became clearly bounded. Travelling anywhere becomes a financial consideration and a scheduling hassle — I can not simply pick-up-and-go, but must make sure I can (a) afford the cost of the ferry and (b) work to their timetable. There is a strong sense of who is an islander and who is a mainlander, because mainlanders have a capriciousness to their travel plans that seems so very innocent. They haven’t had to spend 8 hours in a ferry line under a hot August sun with two unhappy children. They do not seem to recognize the importance of packing snacks, juice, and comic books.

That friend who never left the island? She left. I think she lives in the prairies now, where the widest stretch of water is a river you can throw a rock across. I like to imagine she got to the other side of the strait, pointed her truck east, and just kept driving until she ran out of gas. Late at night, I wake and wonder what it must be like, to live in a place where you can see forever, and know that if you wanted to go in any direction, there’s nothing that nature can do to stop you: no cliffs, no ocean, no mountains, no jungles.

Y’know what? I think it’s time for a road trip.

Fare thee well, 2015

I’m a day early, but tomorrow will be busy, so forgive me if I sneak my best wishes for a healthy, hearty, happy New Year in a little earlier than everyone else. Over the past two weeks, I’ve discovered a couple of things. I’d like to share them with you, here at the close of 2015.

(1) Saga – oh my! How did I miss this remarkable graphic novel? My sister-in-law gave me two of the five issues, and I think that’s just cruel, getting a girl hooked on a fantastic story and then leaving her hanging! What have I done, to deserve such torture? The art is superb, the characters are compelling, and as a 40-something mom, I love the way they’ve incorporated children – historically an underrepresented demographic in comic books – into the tale. Graphic novel readers are getting older. We’ve left our carefree youth behind, taken on new and exciting responsibilites. It’s kind of cool to have a story that reflects those experiences.

(2) Podcasts – I love podcasts. I’ve been listening to a ton of ’em. I want to make one of my own and I have stories to tell. That’s all I’m going to say about that at the present time.

(3) The Third Book – the third novel is underway, following Bucket of Blood and Mark of the Magpie. I’m planning to release it in the autumn of 2016, but we’ll have to see what the year ahead holds. I love being back in 1898, hanging out with Lizzie. She’s probably the craziest of all my imaginary friends.

(4) Spine – I am in really bad physical shape. That has to change. I mean, I know everyone starts their new year with vague resolutions to lose weight or jog more, but I’m serious, I need to change my habits. Since November, I’ve spent a couple of weeks flat on my back, nursing an old injury to my lower spine that I incurred in a tragic bed-related accident over 15 years ago. Basically, the act of sitting for too long in a poor chair flings me into apoplectic fits of agony – if I want to continue to write books, then I need to be active, too. So watch out, 2016. I’m going to be outdoors more. Doing what, you might ask?

(5) Detecting – While flat on my back, I did a lot of crochet and started watching a British television show call ‘Detectorists’. I didn’t tell my extended family that I loved the show, so I’m confused by how they knew to buy me a metal detector for Christmas, but I can honestly say it was the BEST GIFT IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.  I actually squeaked when opening it. Of course, it’s December in Canada and there’s snow on the ground outside, so I haven’t taken it out of the box yet, but I CAN’T WAIT for spring. By all the goats of Thor, it’s going to be EPIC.


So on that note, let me take this opportunity to wish you and all you hold dear a very Happy New Year, and may we cross paths again in 2016. Can you believe it? 2016! We’re living in the future, with casual space travel and talking robots and face transplants and bacon-flavoured seaweed. That’s pretty awesome. Let’s live a little longer and see what else turns up!

Filming Perseverance: Part Four

The fourth day dawns, and the children will have no more of our shenanigans. They refuse to leave the comforts of couch and computer for the wild adventures of the woods. We must buy their cooperation with promises of treats – donuts, to be exact. I suppose the technical term in the film industry is ‘craft services’. Or, in other circles, ‘bribery’.

But when we discovered our first abandoned vehicle in the underbrush, their enthusiasm returned by the bucketful.


Cumberland is an old coal mining town, and our trek along the creek now took us towards the ruins of No. 4 Mine, along an old railway track that bypassed fern hollows and mossy ravines. History surrounds us. We found three old cars, railway tracks, concrete bunkers and old trails. In 1924, two separate explosions rocked No. 4 mine, and it was never a very safe or pleasant place to work – stretching out under Comox Lake, the slopes were filled with gas and the whole network was very damp and dangerous. No. 4 Mine closed circa 1935, but it left behind ruins, holes, and plenty of twisted metal artifacts.

We filmed along the creek, then took a detour through the coal heaps left behind by No. 4. These large hills provide a great place to bike and hike, and they have a strange, otherworldly quality to them: long, man-made lumps of detritus, studded with trees. Coal mining left a long legacy in the area, not only of family history and quirky buildings but also plenty of torn mountains, pitted earthworks and environmental damage, and the scars still mark the landscape.


After a bit of bush whacking and cross-country stumbling*, we finally made it out to Comox Lake to film the final scene, and the sun was dipping low into the west by the time we wrapped up our last shot. We needed donuts, STAT, all of us.


So back home we went, and instead of following the trail over the mountain and along the logging road, we decided to take the fast route home. Who needs a bridge when you’ve become one with the creek?


If you’re in the Comox Valley, you can watch ‘Perseverance’ at the Cumberland Mountain Film Festival on April 10th, and at the Cumberland Community Forest Society’s Spring Trivia Event on April 17th.  For everyone else, I’ll be posting it here after I recover from trivia night!


*during which we discovered a three-story tree house and a rope swing that required ten rungs to climb and boasts an arc that would turn your hair white. I can’t wait for summer!