The Vault

If you poked through the dust here, you’d find the guts of a suspense novel set in Florida and Argentina, and another one set in the Sacramento Valley.


Does every writer have a memoir, or novel, based on her parents’ story? I do – the novel Voluntary Flowers has been in the vault for several years, since midway through my MFA program. The research was interesting (especially when I read some of my father’s letters home and realized my mother was not the first woman he courted in England…)

I’m fairly certain I have enough material for a novel, but when I began writing the story I discovered that I couldn’t give flaws to the characters who were, in my head at least, my parents. Let me clarify – I could give them flaws, but not ones that would actually make the characters something other than cardboard.


London, England

London, England

But it has the potential to be a good historical novel because my mother was one of the many English War Brides who came to Canada after the end of World War II. And for those women who settled in the prairies, the transition was not easy.

On a recent trip to London I noticed this monument – my mother’s WAAC uniform is one of the outfits represented there. Seeing the monument inspired me to rethink the novel. Now, if I can just find the proper flaw to bestow on the character who is based on my mother. That is, not one Mom had but one that will make for great story.