Interviewed a Bletchley Park historian!

Had a great interview with Bletchley Park chief historian, David Kenyon for about an hour and a half. I had seen much of the park before talking to him, and he pointed me to some other places in the park as must-see. In addition to answering my questions, he had cool anecdotes to relate, such as the fact that the gardeners for the Commonwealth War Graves caring for the cemeteries after WWI were British. Some let their garden sheds be used as safe houses on the route to ferrying downed allied air men back to Britain. Cool, eh?

I also picked up some replicas of WWI literature issued to soldiers at the time, as well as a newspaper about the Dam Busters. Really interesting detail about life at the time.

Two week residency at Annaghmakerrig

Almost finished my two-week residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland. It has been glorious. I’ve met tons of new people, talked about art and writing, had a couple of readings and one tour of the artists’ studios, and even went to a local rural pub—one of the oldest in Ireland. I’ve amalgamated most of my research, finished my outline and written a few scenes, and I love the way the book is progressing. I’ve learned a lot about my characters and how to bring out their stories. Highly recommended!

And the Sunburst!

“The Beautiful Gears of Dying,” by Sandra Kasturi, one of the stories in Aurora-winning The Sum of Us, won the Sunburst for Best Short Story. The jury commented: “In a strong field with many outstanding stories, Sandra Kasturi’s “The Beautiful Gears of Dying” did for the jury what speculative writing does best, by using a fantastic/technological trope to explore the complexity of human relations and the texture of human life. Kasturi’s story is linguistically complex, economical, emotionally intense, and yet accessible, and it provokes recurring thoughts about our human predicaments.”

The Sum of Us Won the Aurora!

Spent last weekend at V-Con to attend the Aurora Awards, and The Sum of Us won for Best Related Work! Two years in a row! AND, one of our short stories, “Gone Flying” by Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, won in the short fiction category! YAY! Finally the wins are sweeter because the fields were very strong.

Talking to another author, David O’Keefe

Got in touch with author, David O’Keefe about his research into conditions underlying Canada’s raid on Dieppe. His book was a gold mine of information and inspiring for my novel, but what I wanted more on was the living conditions for the French in Occupied France—again, the tips he gave me were amazing. Little things like looking up the 1939 Yellow Pages from the archive at the hotel de ville in Dieppe to find out the addresses of all the local businesses. Even if the businesses aren’t there now, I can walk the streets where my characters would have visited the baker, the butcher, and so forth. Wonderful!

Background research close to home

So I thought I’d interview my sister and brother-in-law for their memories and past research (both are non-fiction writers) about early Alberta, and came up with another gold mine. I was interested in RCMP investigative procedures for a missing person in 1942, and of course, both having been National Park Wardens their entire careers, my sister and her husband had worked a lot with the RCMP. I’ll want to do further follow up (just learned through another source that the RCMP were also Canada’ spy agency in those years, and so infiltrated Communist and fascist groups), but its amazing where you can get information!

Research at the University

This week I interviewed Dr. David Bercuson, professor of history at the University of Calgary. Wow. What a ton of knowledge he has, and he was able to quickly grasp the intent of my questions and narrow his vast understandings to a comprehensive background and clear answers. AND he gave me some perfect resources to follow up, and invited me to come back for a longer interview. Wow. Just, wow.

Research at the Rodeo

Today I went to a rodeo to get a sense of western culture in support of my next novel, and I managed to get into a conversation with a couple of contestants about what it was like “in the old days.” One told me about a fellow who was born and raised (3rd generation) on a ranch nearby who might have stories to tell me. She was willing to take my card and pass my request on to him. Yay! Not sure if the rancher will be interested in following up, but if so, this could be a wonderful source of primary research!

Productive Writers’ Retreat

Very productive writers’ retreat: in 5 days I outlined 2 novels, to varying levels of detail, and got 2/3 of the way through editing a third. Also, during our writerly discussions, I waylaid the others for a critique of my magic system, and they found lots of holes in it—but provided suggestions for improvement as well. This helps tremendously!