I purchased When the Flood Falls at Chapters in Regina just over a week ago and have enjoyed the book. I will be posting a review tomorrow.
If you have the time I have a few questions.
I have been wondering how close a character Jan is to you. On your website you refer to your ME/CFS and how it has deeply impacted your life. Jan also has ME/CFS. Are her health problems also your experiences?
I’ve had ME/CFS for more than 25 years. It’s a relapsing/remitting neuro-immune illness that, for about 25% of us, never gets around to remitting. I’ve had some of the same struggles as the character Jan, notably resisting getting a wheelchair for several years after I knew I needed one. Others of her experiences are based on those of people I have read through online support groups.
You chose striking women as your major characters are women. The men are the secondary characters. I would be interested in knowing why women lead and men support the plot in your book.
I would also be interested in knowing whether you had reached the decision to make the lead characters women before starting the book or during the writing of the book.
I did appreciate that your strong women were neither all good nor all bad characters.
There was never a question for me about writing the lead characters as women. Conventional wisdom is ‘write what you know’. Well, I know women. My early thirties, like those of my female characters, were filled with struggle: career, relationships, and health issues. Single women are vulnerable to disruptions in all these arenas; we support each other as best we can in a world that is still predominantly governed by men’s rituals and hierarchies.
I wanted to write fiction that – apart from the act of murder which fortunately touches most of us less often than crime fiction would imply – reflected real women’s lives. One part of that reality is that women are at far greater risk of violence and murder from the men in their lives than they are from strangers. The statistics on domestic violence and murder have not significantly changed in the thirty years I have been watching them. That experience of domestic violence is an aspect of Lacey’s PTSD that she will continue to cope with in future books.
I realized as I was reading When the Flood Falls how rarely Canadian crime fiction authors use NHL players in their books. Hockey is our national passion. Money and sex are in abundance around the NHL. What took you to including a group of NHLers in the book? Do you have some personal connections to professional hockey?
I have a spiderweb of interactions with the world of hockey, beginning many years ago when my co-worker married a minor-league scout and started billeting young players. Some of those young players struggled with homesickness and some were caught up directly or peripherally in abusive situations that only came to light years later. Some of them abused the teenage girls who treated them like royalty. As I was studying adolescent psychology at that time, my co-worker and I had many discussions about the factors shaping those young players, how she could mitigate possible damage to them, and the ways in which those influences might play out in their adulthood.
Throughout the decades, I’ve followed the careers of some of those players – yes, into the NHL as well as to international teams – watching some of them grow into great players, strong and compassionate humans, while others flamed out early in self-destructive spirals. The novel is not primarily about hockey players or the people around them, but I hope I have stated some of the sacrifices that the players and their families must make, and the price they pay, in their quest for a professional hockey career.
Thank you for considering my questions. If you are willing I will post your answers with the questions in a followup post to the review.
I am looking forward to your next mystery.
With both of our sons residing in Calgary Sharon and I are in Calgary fairly often. Perhaps we can get together on one of our visits.
Jayne’s website is www.jaynebarnard.ca. She also provided biographical information:
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. She is represented by Olga Filina of The Rights Agency.
Her most recent book is When the Flood Falls, a small-town psychological thriller set in the Alberta foothills west of Calgary.