My writing life

I answer the question of whether geologist Alex Graham reflects my real life experiences…

Did you incorporate any real life experiences or settings into the story?

I’m a geologist and I spent much of my career in the international petroleum industry, but I also worked for a mining company one summer. For four months, I lived in a tent, hiked mountains and rode helicopters to/from work sites in the Canadian north. It was an experience like no other and through geologist Alex Graham, I try to share it with readers.


If you’re writing a series, what are the pros and cons? If you’ve written a stand-alone what are the pros and cons?

I didn’t set out to write a series but I came to really like Alex Graham and she fit well into other stories I had in mind. With a series, it’s much easier to deliver a rich personality because I have room to develop Alex over several novels. But it also means that I have to pace her journey carefully because I want readers to get to know her a little better in each story. And I always have to remember that every action she takes affects future novels!

What is the most satisfying character and/or story line you’ve ever written?

You might think that it’s Alex, but it’s my ER doctor, Eric Keenan. THIRST required a key medical scene that I struggled with for many weeks, but when it finally came together I was thrilled with the results. It wasn’t just the scene itself, but Eric’s character as well, and I found myself expanding the role of this very complex doctor and adding more medical scenes.


Name your top three how-to writing books, and/or the best novels you’ve ever read.

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is my go-to reference when I’m trying to convey emotion through character movement or expression.

I also like The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass because it goes beyond the nuts-and-bolts of writing to deliver solid practical advice on how to develop compelling scenes.

And when I need to review the basics, it’s Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale.

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