How much did you say that cost?

During the first January blast, our daughters invited my lovely wife Nancy and I to join them and their children, at River Valley Tube Slide just off Highway 7 / Elginfield Road, close to St. Mary’s. My first reaction was negative. Saying no can come almost as naturally to a senior as it does to […]

So you want to write the great Canadian novel

You’re retired, and your friends have been telling you for years that you should write a book about the uproariously funny situations only a klutz like you could fall into, or the tales that have haunted your family for generations. Or you want to write the great Canadian novel, and isn’t it about time somebody […]

Tips to avoid slip sliding away

Now that OI’ Man Winter is technically just around the corner, here are some tips for us ol’ humans who are drivin’ in the sleet, snow and slush. Drive the lane you’re in. In St. Thomas, it’s astonishing to see how many seniors decide to pull an awkward move to the right to get out […]

Rewriting a manuscript

In early summer, my nephew Brennan Carroll and his wife Erin read the manuscript of a book with two possible titles. It’s a Carl North novel, a sequel to Snow Candy, which seems to be selling better than any of my other books.This new novel had been critiqued (hope that’s acceptable as a verb) by […]

Why Ross is out of favour

I’ve had the mixed blessing of reading a late Ross MacDonald mystery THE GOODBYE LOOK. It has all the trademark touches . . . a plot so complicated there should be a chart, beautiful metaphors interspersed with descriptive writing that’s occasionally a stretch, plot lines and relationships that go back and back and back. While […]

Location, location

I set my first two mystery novels in fictional small towns, one in Alberta and one in Ontario. These settings have the advantage that you can do whatever you want with the layout of the town and the countryside. The downside is the not inconsiderable work involved in mapping and keeping straight the geography. Two […]

MacDonald vs. McDonald

Within the last couple of years, I read a piece on why John D. McDonald is still in print and Ross MacDonald is not. Something to do with the hipness of John D.’s Travis McGee outlasting the psychological depths and family secrets unearthed by Ross’s Lew Archer. But the world has turned again. I see […]

Why do readers seem to know more?

Volunteer readers have been responding to the manuscript for a new Carl North novel, an unpublished sequel to SNOW CANDY. I’m working in the noir tradition but setting these books in modern times. It’s a tricky road sometimes, easier to avoid cliches like shamus and patsy and rum-runner than to deal with the changes in […]

Second printing

It looks like my third mystery novel SNOW CANDY from Mercury Press has sold out its initial press run of about 750 copies. This is extremely small potatoes, in the great scheme of things, but gains a little more traction when you realize that the vast majority of books in North America do not sell […]