About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Q & A with Janice MacDonald on Another Margaret

Earlier this week I reviewed Another Margaret by Janice MacDonald as part of a blogger tour organized by Turnstone Press. Today I return to the tour posting Questions and Answers with Janice.

Thank you for the opportunity to ask a few questions.

Randy Craig, in analyzing Margaret Ahlers, wants to learn about the author so that she can better understand the books of Ahlers. Before reading a new author, I prefer not to know about the personal life of a writer. I chose that approach after reading an unflattering magazine article on Patricia Cornwell that adversely affected how I read her books. Consequently, I have not read any articles about you personally before reading Another Margaret and I am interested in knowing:

1.) Do you think it would have been better for me to have read about you before I read Another Margaret?

No, I don’t think it would be necessary. And of course, Randy is moved to want to know more about Ahlers only after having read her first book. So, if you want to know more about me now, you could check out www.janicemacdonald.net, which is a lovely website maintained by my very supportive husband.
2.) Do you like to read about an author before you have read their work?

Not usually. However, when I fall in love with a writer, reading everything they’ve written, I often move toward reading biographies of them, and I do tend to go see them when they’re in town, to hear them talk. I prefer to turn the people I revere into celebrities, rather than just people famous for being famous.

Randy easily distracts herself even 20 years after graduating with her M.A. She will clean and shop and organize so that she has no reason not to focus when she starts her academic work. I am familiar with the issue. I studied in the basement of a United Church at university to minimize, effectively eliminate, distractions. My sons preferred to study with music playing and are not bothered by noise around them. In writing your fiction:

1.) Do you need a private place free of disturbances?

Yes. I am not one of those people who can sit in a cafĂ©, writing. I cannot write with music that has lyrics to it, either, as I tend to get carried off on someone else’s words.

2.) If you do where is that spot and how do you make it distraction free?

I keep my alarm set to its weekday work time on weekends (5:43am) and I get up Saturday and Sunday mornings and work on my own stuff…until my husband wakes up and the rest of the world gets started.

In reading about the literary theft of Randy’s thesis on Margaret Ahlers I was reminded of the literary theft perpetuated by H.G. Wells of the work of Canadian Florence Deeks. He barely bothered to disguise his plagiarism of the world history she wrote during WW I. I was fascinated and saddened by the story and her unsuccessful lawsuit in The Spinster and the Prophet by A.B. McKillop. When developing that aspect of the plot of Another Margaret:

 1.) Did you happen to be inspired by her story?

No, I never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing that. It is such fun to hear about where my fiction takes people.

 2.) If not, was there another source of inspiration?

My original inspiration was Chatterton and Ossian, and how we read those works as just odd freakish bits of evidence, rather than actual poetry now, though they were revered when they first arrived on scene.

As for the later plagiarism, most of it is based on situations I’d heard of anecdotally happening several years ago. I hope that our credibility on the world academic stages has risen enough that American publishing houses would do a Library of Congress search before publishing someone’s text.

Thanks so much for having me on your site.



Thank you for considering my questions.


Bill Selnes
I thank Janice for her thoughtful answers. Another Margaret is a fine book.
Another Margaret by Janice MacDonald


  1. Thank you, Bill, for sharing this interview. And thanks to Janice for consenting to it. It's always really interesting to hear how authors work, what inspires them, where they get their ideas and so on. It's a terrific way to learn.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I had not heard of Chatterton and Ossian before getting the answers from Janice.

  3. I had already ordered the book before reading this, and now am looking forward to it even more.