Please help me welcome Ann Harvey! Thanks so much for stopping by, Ann!
Tell us Ann, what was the inspiration for Timeout ?
Timeout is the story of a rather eccentric young newspaper reporter whose solution to getting rid of a deadbeat husband is the underground economy. Bartering her skills – mainly for investigation—she ends up solving a historical crime. Having been a gypsy journalist who met many different people, I used my experiences to create a book intended to be amusing and fun.
Gypsy Journalist? You’ll have to come back another time and talk about that! InTimeout, who is your favorite character and why?
Iphigenia, the young reporter (who shortens her name to Iffy), appeals to me because I admire her combination of eccentricity and kindness.
Iphigenia sure is a different name – don’t think I’ve ever heard it before actually! Who in Timeout is your least favorite character and why?
Iffy’s husband, Norm, is also eccentric but in a totally selfish and narcissistic way. He defends his insistence on being supported by Iffy, by saying he is more sensitive and creative than others.
Tell us an interesting or fun fact – or a few – about Timeout.
Timeout describes a contemporary small town in central Canada. For city dwellers – most people in Canada and the U.S. – this is an entirely different world.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you work through that?
I have experienced excessive employment hours preventing me from writing, some procrastination, and occasional bouts of laziness, but writer’s block is foreign to me. That may be because, having earned my living as a newspaper journalist for about 30 years, I got in the habit of courting ideas and economics required me to follow through by writing . Instead of blaming blockage for the stories I have not written, I am sometimes saddened by the inspirations I have not have time to use.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? I love asking this question!
I’d say I am a combination of the two. I have written four novels and for all of them I wrote the first three chapters without a plot. Then I plotted. Until I wrote novels, the longest item I ever wrote was 5,000 words. With such short items, it is easy to keep track of things. Novels become confusing. I find plotting is essential for avoiding continuity errors.
So what are your ambitions for your writing career?
The first goal is always to craft a story that fascinates the reader. A second wish is to make people think, make them step out of their preconceived notions about life and how to live it. Ideally I would like to create a body of work that adds some new ideas to the world.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
Just keep at it and have fun too. Try contests and got to conventions to meet fans, writers and publishers and learn.
Can you share an excerpt of your current work? Why did you select this particular section to share?
I have selected the first chapter because the events show the young reporter’s character and how she deals with life.
By Ann Harvey
Climbing a power line pylon probably isn’t smart.
But it is fun. Right until you slip. Then it’s just scary. I know.
I deal with stress in my own way, and it’s not always dignified. That figures. I’m a small town
, newspaper reporter. Not exactly the acme of journalism. It’s hard to look respectable and important while crouching at the front of a school gymnasium trying to get decent school concert photos or, even more absurdly, while shooting this season’s potato that looks like the prime minister.
It’s harder when you’ve just been caught hanging upside down from one of the struts of one of those Lego-like steel pylons that power companies use to transmit electricity.
Not only do I lack the basic survival instinct that would tell anyone else to stay off a structure carrying enough electricity to fry them, but I also managed to slip and barely kept aloft by hanging with my legs draped over a horizontal beam. My right leg was hooked around a vertical corner strut and my right hand gripped the same strut slightly higher. Definitely not dignified.
It was typical of my life. A mess.
Straining to twist up my chest and head
, while hoping my sweat-slicked right hand wouldn’t slip and thinking I should have kept doing those abdominal crunches, I finally got a left hand grip on the oblique strut in the centre of the horizontal, and pulled myself to a sitting position. Saved again. Whoopty do dah. Now should I keep going up or do the sensible thing and get off this eggsucking deathtrap?
“Hi, how are you doing today?” A pleasant and easy tenor wafted up from below. The man effortlessly achieved the required volume. The tone was casual, so I looked down without apprehension and, at the base of the pylon, saw a bulky man wearing familiar navy slacks and pale blue shirt, a uniform which I knew features a yellow stripe down the outside seam of each leg of the slacks. The final touch, a Kevlar soft body armor vest, added to his girth. A white SUV, with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police crest and zigzagging red, yellow and blue stripes, was parked on the paved grid road behind my elderly, decrepit, green Honda Civic.
Oh crap. I was in trouble.
Still, being up here and seeing the world from this angle was worth the flak coming my way. Looking down I’d felt that click in my head that always happened when things started to make sense to me, when my notes stopped seeming like a big muddle and became a story I could write. For the first time in months, maybe years, I felt good–back to my old optimistic self before marriage and years of constant criticism. I could handle this.
The RCMP officer’s relaxed tone was infectious so my answer matched it. “You’re the new constable. When did you show up?”
“Just got into town last Monday. Today’s my first day on duty here.”
“Well, welcome to Tolstoy. I hope you like it. I’m a reporter for the Tolstoy Herald. You guys are one of my beats.”
I was responding automatically. Covering crime is critical to any newspaper so I like to establish a good relationship with all the constantly changing members of our RCMP detachment–a sergeant, two corporals, six constables and the less-likely-to-leave three civilian stenos plus a miscellaneous collection of part-time prisoner guards and three auxiliary officers–a farm machinery shop manager, a public works employee and a businesswoman. That way the officers are more relaxed when I come around asking questions about events or taking photos of motor vehicle collisions, fires and whatever else happens. It’s not difficult. I’ve often suspected that police take a unit on being charming in their training. Or maybe it’s just that I’m particularly susceptible to being charmed by anyone caring about my safety.
Of course, I also wanted to buy a little time and figured I’d use the officer’s natural impulse to be pleasant combined with his obvious reluctance to upset me while I was perched so high. Experience suggested the ploy. There is a reason I call Canada the nation of polite police.
Despite the distance, I could see the white glint of exposed teeth in a tanned face that told me I’d received a smile in response.
“Thanks. Seems like a nice place.”
Thanks so much for stopping by Ann!
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