I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, a beautiful rainforest with a temperate climate. I love the outdoors where I can walk beside the ocean and, at the same time, see the mountains looming close and powerful, almost within reach.
When my father arrived here from Ireland, after a few years in the United States, he said the west coast reminded him of his birthplace in southern Ireland. I wrote about his journey from Kilkormac to New York in my historical fiction Against the Wind. He, too, was a writer, a newspaperman, and he told wonderful stories as we went on walks through the woods in all weather all year. He had a soft voice and a great sense of humour. I like to think I’ve inherited his gift of storytelling and a little of his funny bone.
My mother came from French stock and was raised in the Kootenay district of British Columbia, north of Idaho, and next door to Alberta. She also had a talent for storytelling. Over the years, I heard what it was like to grow up in a small mining town, where her father and uncles owned a hotel during a time when radio was considered high tech. Those stories of her early years resurfaced when I wrote my first historical fiction Shades of War.
Both my parents loved animals. We always had dogs and cats in our home. I remember, at one time, we had two dogs and three cats. Feeding time was a comical sight as they all lined up around my mother as she prepared their food. Each animal acted as polite as possible and showed restraint as she placed one bowl at a time onto the floor. When I grew up, I had my own dog and cat, Jazz and Misha, and tell the story of my efforts to cohabit with these extraordinary creatures in my book Four Legs And A Tale.
In my twenties, I worked in a law office, and thought I might become a lawyer. I enrolled at the University of British Columbia to begin my undergrad degree before transferring to law school, but I felt completely at home in the English Department where I studied literary history and great European, Canadian, and American literature. In the Classics Department, I read the Greek and Roman works (in English) from Virgil and Horace to Sophocles and Euripides, Plato and Aristotle to Homer and Herodotus.
The more I read, the more I realized that I wanted to be a writer, not a lawyer. So, I took some creative writing courses and carried on beyond my B.A. to get a Masters Degree in English.
Years after I graduated, and quite by accident, I discovered a code that involved symbols, riddles, and anagrams in Jane Eyre.
As I pursued facts interwoven with fiction, I realized I was venturing down a path that would be an unpopular one; nonetheless, my training at university had taught me to be fearless: my profs encouraged questioning the status quo, placing it under the heading of rigorous, intellectual curiosity.
This erudite ideal is lovely in theory but, in reality, most people don’t want their beliefs challenged.
After eight years of research and writing, I finished Charlotte Brontë’s Thunder. The book is for everyone. I include a number of scholarly views as external voices to provide the reader with informed opinions to help better assess my theory. Fortunately, I found two courageous scholars willing to read the book and then write their thoughts. You can read their reviews here.
For readers who find a 500-page book somewhat daunting, I wrote a shorter and less scholarly version.
If you’re interested in reading about the code, and you like murder mysteries, you might enjoy The Brontë Code. This fiction acts as an introduction to elements of the code that are dealt with in more detail in the nonfiction. So, if you’re curious about what Charlotte Brontë was up to all those many years ago, please take a peek behind the veil.
The work involved in writing a book is offset by the fun and unexpected revelations we encounter when we try something creative. But it’s work nonetheless. My university education taught me how to do research and how to structure the books, but my parents taught me how to tell a story. I’m happy to share those stories with you, and look forward to hearing from you.