Friday, March 6, 2015
SCHMOOZING WITH JANICE MACDONALD
1. Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?
My influences have been myriad. Every mystery I read for my thesis years ago, books I read throughout my time as the Edmonton Journal’s mystery reviewer, and the works of John Cawelti and George Grella. My sense is that popular genre writing has the capacity to include social commentary and act as a beacon two or three steps before mainstream fiction.
2. What are you working on now?
My next Randy Craig mystery, a university reunion story called at present Another Margaret, is in the editing process now. I am putting together the foundation of the next one while also working on a creative non-fiction piece that requires some research. I also have two or three short pieces that have been commissioned and need polishing.
3. In what ways is your main protagonist like you? If at all?
Randy Craig is like me in that she is a graduate from the University of Alberta. She too loves the thought of teaching at the university level and is not able to capture it as a livelihood. She lives in an apartment that I once lived in quite happily.
On the other hand, I am married with grown children, I have moved into a profession where I can achieve a pension and some security. And we own a car, though it spends loads of time in its parking stall.
4. Are you character driven or plot driven?
I think I am situation-driven. As with all series, the character and the locale is what brings readers back; I hope to find new aspects to the university/academic world for Randy to explore.
5. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
Well, aside from the fact that I deplore that term just because of its vulgarity, I do like to write without being sure of the ending. I usually know my way about forty pages ahead of wherever I am in the draft. It makes the getting up early on weekend mornings worth doing. I’m not in a bracket where I am paid enough for the writing not to be the fun part.
6. What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I want them to enjoy themselves, laugh out loud once or twice, and find out elements of Edmonton and the university world. There is usually some social or philosophical argument woven into the plot, as well.
7. Where do you see yourself as a writer in 10 years?
With any luck, I will be able to retire and devote more time to my writing…or vegetable marrows. There are a couple of non-mystery works I have in mind, as well.
8. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Oh gosh, my life is an open book, it seems. Maybe they might be surprised to know I work for the government now. In the same way that Murakami once said he felt he could write more clearly about Japan when he was living in the USA, perhaps I can write about academe from outside the ivory tower.
9. What do you like to read for pleasure?
I read mystery novels voraciously – Canadian, English and Scottish especially. I also read Canadian fiction, Commonwealth fiction, and I support local and Alberta writers.
10. Give us a summary of your latest book in a Tweet.
The Roar of the Crowd @RandyCraigBooks explores murder amidst Edmonton’s theatrical crowd, experts at prevarication. Can Randy keep the murderer from striking again?
Janice MacDonald is the creator of the Randy Craig Mysteries. She is a dyed-in-the-wool Edmontonian, and makes no apologies for setting her novels in a recognizable Edmonton and celebrating the things that make this northern metropolis so vibrant and unique. Miranda "Randy" Craig finds work in various aspects of academe and walks the not-quite-so-mean streets of Alberta’s capital, finding herself enmeshed in puzzling murders and drinking lots of coffee. Janice herself lives with a lovely husband who is not in law enforcement, works for the government, and drinks copious pots of tea.