Visiting old characters-Mrs. Dobroski from Grave Secrets

Mrs. Dobroski, sticklady from Grave Secrets

What does my new GPS have to do with my 1999 title Grave Secrets?  Lately I’ve been reading all the books on the Red Maple list so that when I meet the authors May 15th, I will know a little about them, perhaps their voice if nothing else.  So far I’ve read The Tiffin (Mahtab Narsimman) Testify (Valerie Sherrard) The Town that Drowned ( Riel Nasson), This Dark Endeavour (Kenneth Oppel) and most recently The Vampire Stalker (Allison Van Diepen)

In The Vampire Stalker, the characters of a book step into a reader’s real world and I noticed in some of the reviews that many of Allison’s fans love this concept and have imagined it themselves.  I thought “Not me!  I like to keep my characters on some other plane of existence”.  And then I thought about it awhile and realize how they do kind of seep into my real life.  

There is a real dog named after Beauty from my Bringing Up Beauty series for example and she sent me a Christmas card one.  I also have a candle holder wreath made up of black Labs with Santa hats.  A boy named Tom was killed by a car in front of MM Robinson and somehow I knew it was my character Scott.  My research often involves integrating snippits of real people into my story actors.  Somehow Tom had been some part of my character.

The other day, in replacing my stolen GPS Princess Leya, my husband downloaded some voices for me to choose from.  The Hungarian grandmother really grabbed me.  Perhaps because as a kid, all of my friends’ parents were of eastern European descent.  And then it hit me when I named her.  She would be Mrs. Dobroski, the Hungarian sticklady from Grave Secrets   In the book she said about her oriental rug: “Be careful.  Step only on the red parts.  The white parts are so difficult to clean”.

My GPS says:  “Listen to me.  Why don’t you stay in the right lane?  Then you will go onto the highway.  But please, don’t drive too fast.  It makes me nervous.”

None of my characters, to date, have required a place to stay or money from me, thank heavens.  But I know I have written series so that I could revisit them and sometimes I’ll daydream about them and wonder how they’ve grown up and what they’re doing on their own separate plane.  I think Elizabeth from my Beauty series travels the world to rescue people with a search dog for example.  Don’t know if she’ll ever get married and have children though.  She will always miss Kyle…

At least for now, one old character Mrs. Dobroski will lead me in new directions.













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The Making of the Reading Trailer

 This isn’t Hollywood.  We have no production budget.  I created a great script but became too busy to audition actors who would have to fill the roles with no reimbursement.   A publisher I worked with once told me she wanted a Q & A with an author.

Meh.  That sounds dangerously close to a free author visit.

I decided I would read the opening instead.

People have asked me how I made this trailer.  First I drove my son to Confederation College for film studies in Thunderbay some 12 years ago.  Really I owe it all to Craig McNicoll who works for Emotion Pictures in Burlington (  They’re a wonderful small firm that creates great corporate videos at a price no one can beat. If you’re a corporation, not an author. If you’re an author, you probably can’t afford them.

My son doesn’t charge me more than dinner but if I get the GG, or some good grant money, Hon, there’s a new dishwasher in it for you.

Perhaps some of you remember Craig from when he filmed our first mass book launch at Mississauga Public Library.  He worked for days on that one and used to come up from his office quoting some of you. He can still call up a quote when I mention any author who participated.  He especially enjoyed author Claire Mackay emceeing (and then totally edited her out due to space and time constraints)  

First Craig brings a huge expensive high definition camera and films me reading a few times.  We discuss images and collect some from stock art:  the eagle, the solo crow.  Some my husband photographed, the Scrabble tiles, the plastic crows in a line, I shot the clock.  The sound and ominous music Craig inserted from stock.

First draft of the video (yeah, even in video editing we have “re-writes”) went on past a couple of minutes.  Way too long with not enough images.  So last night he brought his immense screen over and together we adjusted images and cut a huge chunk out.  Craig did this, I just ooohed and awed. And held my three month old grandson.  It’s always a pleasure working with my kids and witnessing their talent and skill. And holding their babies.

So thank you Craig.

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