Sep 8, 2015 - Literary

Riding through the Waves like Poseidon Scouting Out Film Locations

IMG_4127IMG_4124IMG_4137On Labour Day Sunday, I rode through the waves like Poseidon with my brother John and the young film makers who are making a film of my last novel, The Western Light. It is set in a tourist town on the Georgian Bay.

We scouted out the lighthouse on Hope Island, part of a trio of huge wooded islands off Cedar Point on the Georgian Bay. The blue watery realm is so isolated that the physical experience of being there feels like drifting into a metaphysical dimension. This atmosphere is partly created by the lack of cottages or homes since the islands belong to the band on Christian Island. The film makers Hannah Cheesman and Mackenzie Donaldson took pictures and tried to imagine filming in such a rugged location. Unfortunately, the original top of the 1881 lighthouse had been replaced by a steel structure and light. Hannah is wearing a captain’s hat; Mackenzie is smiling into the camera.

These are Mackenzie’s photos, a taste, she says, of our afternoon on the water. The trip ended with a visit to the Waypoint Health Centre in Penetang, the old psychiatric hospital that is also in my novel. An old Georgian Bay lighthouse is also in the story.

Hannah and Mackenzie were just named two of the 2015 top five people to watch in Canadian film. Their short Boxing is at TIFF this September. The other producer Lauren Grant was home looking after her month old baby. Her most recent feature Wet Bum, which debuted at TIFF last year, was featured in a recent Globe and Mail article.

Leave a comment!

Jul 5, 2015 - Literary

Film Deal for The Western Light with Upcoming Canadian Women Producers

Three young creative Canadian women film makers have come together to make a feature film based on the prequel to my international bestseller, The Wives of Bath. The prequel is The Western Light about Mouse Bradford, a precocious girl who is pushed to the brink when she mistakenly places her trust in an institutionalized ex-hockey star and convicted murderer, only to flee her small town and discover that goodness is more mysterious than evil.

The three film producers are Mackenzie Donaldson, an associate producer of Orphan Black, the hit television series about a cabal of cloned women and Hannah Cheeseman, script coordinator and an executive assistant on the Orphan Black series who together form Aberrant Pictures; and Lauren Grant of Clique Films who produced Wet Bum, a feature film with rising TIFF star Julia Sarah Stone. The women from top down in the photos inserted in my blog are Hannah Cheeseman; Mackenzie Donaldson and Laurie Grant.

Hannah will write the screenplay for The Western Light and play the part of Little Louie, Mouse’s aunt. Hannah also wrote the script and acted in “Whatever, Linda”, her newly released web series made with Orphan Black producer Mackenzie Donaldson. “Whatever, Linda” is an Internet Odyssey about an alleged secretary who is the mastermind behind Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Lauren Grant was recently named one of 15 talents to watch by the Hollywood Reporter. I’m currently finishing my new novel, The Dead Celebrities Club.

The novel The Western Light was published by Cormorant Books in 2012 and The Wives of Bath (published in 1993) was made into the 2001 feature film “Lost and Delirious” shown in 32 countries and starring Jessica Pare, Mischa Barton and Piper Parabo.

hannah cheeseman headshotmackenzie donaldson headshotlauren grant headshotKim Witherspoon of Inkwell Management handled the deal in association with Samantha Haywood of Transatlantic Agency.

Leave a comment!

Mar 6, 2015 - Literary    1 Comment

As Promised, Stories about Bad Decisions You Don’t Regret

A bad decision you don’t regret comes perilously close to a good decision although there is usually a lot more harrowing side effects than in a simple good decision, like helping the blind person pick up a dropped bag of groceries. And as promised, here are stories from my generous friends about bad decisions they don’t forget:

Good things grow in strange places.


Marrying the Wrong Guy:

Marrying my first husband at 24 was a bad decision because I wanted an interesting life in the arts and he wanted a conservative lifestyle and to hang out with the rich and cynical; yet it gave me my daughter Samantha. Now it’s impossible to imagine life without her. So I don’t regret my bad decision.

Choosing the Wrong Career:

Non-fiction author Bert Archer said choosing to be a writer was a spectacularly bad decision and yet he doesn’t regret it. Makes sense. The writing life is full of thrills and challenges even though the world seems to think that ‘content providers’ should work for nothing or next to nothing these days.

Marrying the Right Guy in the Wrong Career

Anita Dolman: I married another author although everyone said two writers together leads to rivalry and disaster. It’s tough being in a relationship with someone in your field. When that field is as competitive, as grant dependent, as tight for shelf space and spotlight space as writing is, it’s even harder. After lots of trial and error, my husband and I, struck a deal that we will never submit to the same magazine or grant for the same issue or grant cycle. We’ve been together 13 years, and I don’t regret it.

Picking the Wrong High School:

Thereza Dos Santos For me, choosing to leave all my friends behind to go to the more “reputable” high school was a bad decision I don’t regret. Years later I realized that going to high school with my childhood friends would have been more fun and just fine as far as my future was concerned. But going to a new school where I knew very few people probably helped give me the confidence I have now.

1 Comment

  • Virginia, how wisely said! Children let down their mothers a lot–it’s in the nature of growing up.

Leave a comment!

Mar 5, 2015 - Literary    1 Comment

Stories about Bad Decisions You Regret and Bad Decisions You Don’t

Before my talk at Trampoline Hall on Monday, my friends on Facebook generously gave me stories about their bad decisions. The ones I’ve posted here are done with their permission and my thanks. The discussion on Monday night eventually asked the obvious question: what is a good decision? I suggest that a good decision is an act of self assertion that affirms who you are and respects the rights of others to be who they are. Anyway, drum roll–some slightly abbreviated stories about bad decision you regret–as they were told to me. (Tomorrow: stories about bad decisions my friends and myself don’t regret.)


Image by Mitya Ilyinov


Letting Mom Down
Mary Paterson: My mother and I traveled to Toronto by bus from our hometown of Belleville. We spent the day together shopping, eating out, and went to the ballet. When it came time to leave in the early evening, there was only 1 seat left on the bus. I wanted to get back for a party so instead of waiting in Toronto with my mother, I took that 1 seat on the bus and left my mother alone to wait for the next bus which was hours later. My wonderful mother offered to stay back, and told me it was fine for me to go home without her, but she looked extremely sad. I ignored the feeling that I should stay with her instead of leaving for some stupid high school party. Shortly afterwards my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. That selfish act of abandoning my mother to get to some party has stuck with me – I have always regretted it and by the way, said party has disappeared from my memory, which proves how lame it was. Today my mother is no longer alive, and I can describe the exact look of disappointment and sadness on her face as I sat looking at her through the bus window.

Letting Wishful Thinking Get the Best of You
Don Oravec At the age of 34, I decided I had had enough of Toronto and decided to retire and move to Montserrat in the British West Indies. What a great idea to escape the cold and snow and stress of Toronto life! Or so I thought. I bought a lovely oceanfront condo; however, I hadn’t counted on a category five hurricane hitting the island. It took a year of so to recover from the damages and by that time I decided Toronto wasn’t so bad after all and I moved back. A mere four months after selling my West Indian condo the long-dormant volcano erupted on the island.

Renting the Apartment from Hell
Cheryl Runke I took an apartment sight unseen. The former tenant was an animal hoarder. The floors were embedded with animal feces and urine. That was June 2014. I finally get to move out this Friday.

Listening to a Fast Talking Hubby
Natalee Caple My ex believed that he could guess the stock market — could figure out the likely futures of penny stocks. He was an excellent talker and I believed in him even when what he became convinced that investing in a little known stock based on an invention to sort cow sperm by gender would be a huge success. So I took all my money out of GICs and bought the cow sperm stock. It was a bad decision I really regret because the stock plummeted.

Failing to Estimate a Real Estate Risk:
John Oughton My ex and I decided to buy a country house together so our daughter would have a base to support her horse riding. Once she was in university, we intended to sell the house and make a few $$. After viewing many properties, we settled on one on the edge of a village next to a vacant lot. We were going to pay for the smallish mortgage by splitting the costs. A month later, my ex was diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived, but she has never been able to find full-time or well-paying work since. So I’ve been paying all the expenses on the house and its mortgage (which went up because I’d got into debt, and she needed cash due to her illness.) I still need to live in Toronto for work, so I am effectively paying two rents. The vacant lot next to us (which we didn’t bother to check out carefully) is zoned industrial because it was once a petroleum storage facility. No one can build a house there without having the soil all cleaned or replaced. Last year we finally got an offer on our country house, but it fell though because the prospective buyers didn’t want someone else to take over the nearby vacant lot and put up an industrial site, and they didn’t want to spend money fixing the environmental problems. Then, the church across the way doubled in size and developed a bad in-house rock band that rehearses loudly at odd hours…

1 Comment

  • letting mom down.
    I loved this story. It probably aided in giving mom and daughter more closeness later as the lesson was learned before the diagnosis. And don’t feel bad. A moms heart is so filled with the wonderful timse she’s able to share there is little room for the sad ones.

Leave a comment!