The perfect day

A chat about why I wrote Thirst and which authors and real life heroes inspire me…

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Up early to watch the sunrise and a morning of effortless writing with a cat or two for company. After that, a walk on the beach or a hike in the mountains followed by a glass of wine in front of a fireplace. I’d finish the day with good conversation over dinner with friends and then head to the airport for a flight to some exotic locale!

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?

“How hard can it be?” is a question I ask far too often. And of course I usually discover that whatever new challenge I’m tackling is MUCH harder than I thought!

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

Without a doubt, Michael Crichton because he showed me that science could be woven into fascinating suspense stories. Once I figured out that I could combine my passion for science with writing, I knew where I was going.

Do you listen to music when you write?

I have a playlist of dark music that I use when I’m writing tense scenes. Typically, songs that leave me a little on edge or those that have a somber tone.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

Dark chocolate with cranberries because the plot for Thirst is dark and rich with more than a few surprising bits.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

Nothing ignites a story in me like science and politics. Water knows no boundaries and I was intrigued by the politics of the Columbia River Treaty, a unique agreement between the U.S. and Canada that manages the shared Columbia River. Even more intrigued when I discovered that 3 dams were built in Canada for the U.S. and those dams are considered critical infrastructure to the U.S. government. Add in newly signed agreements that allow the two countries to combine their security response and controversy over terms as the treaty heads into its final years, and I was hooked.

What themes do you regularly visit in your writing?

A common thread for me is the psychology behind crime.  What would cause an average person to commit murder, set off a bomb or steal?

Tell us about your main character

Alex Graham followed in her dad’s footsteps to become a mining geologist. Not a typical choice for a woman and she’s out to prove herself, especially to her dad. She’s smart and independent but her relationships are complicated.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Diane Sawyer, the investigative journalist, for her curiosity, intellect, political savvy and sense of humor. She has said that her curiosity has made for a most interesting life and I believe Alex, who’s in her early thirties, is on the same track.

Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian astronaut in space, for her scientific passion and bravery – I can’t imagine what courage it takes to strap yourself into a NASA shuttle and blast off! She and Alex share the challenge of working in male-dominated professions and the desire for discovery.

Peter Hillary, mountaineer, for his adventurous spirit, determination, generosity and resilience in the face of tragedy. Like Alex, he’s led a complicated life in the shadow of his famous father, Sir Edmund Hillary, despite his own accomplishments on Everest and beyond.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

Michael Crichton, Patricia Cornwell, Elizabeth George, Daniel Silva, Steve Berry and Tom Clancy. Science, politics, espionage, conspiracy and murder investigation all in one evening!

What’s next for you?

I’m working on the next Alex Graham novel.