New Release: Tragic Links

Tragic Links, my fourth book in the Canadian disaster series published by Ronsdale Press, has just been released. Featuring Jolene and Michael, this time in Quebec visiting their maternal grandmother while their father delves into the Quebec Bridge collapse of 1907, Tragic Links tells the story of the bridge collapse as well as the Laurier Palace Theatre Fire that changed the laws of Quebec for many years. Tragic Links is available at bookstores throughout Canada and online.

Upcoming Publications

 Tragic Links, the fourth book in my series of Canadian Catastrophes, will be released in the spring of 2009 by Ronsdale Press. Join Jolene and Michael as they visit Montreal and Quebec City, and learn first-hand about two of Quebec’s most fascinating tragedies – the collapse of the Quebec City Bridge in 1907 and the Laurier Palace Theatre Fire in 1927. Stay tuned for more dates and details as they become available.

Upcoming Presentations

I will be presenting two sessions at the North Central Teachers’ Convention in Edmonton on February 6th, 2009. The first session is "Strengthening Student Writing" for grades 4-6, and the second is entitled "The Power of Creative Language" and is intended for teachers of grades 7-9. If you are in attendance, please stop and say hello.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are Offside and One on One supposed to be sequels?

No, but in a funny way, they are related. While writing Offside, I created a goalie who was a minor character. However, he was such a vibrant character that every time he came into a scene, he threatened to take it over. So, I eventually had to write him out of the story. Eventually, I decided he deserved his own story, and that’s how One on One came to be.

Are you a hockey player?

I never actually played hockey, although I spent a lot of time at arenas figure skating and cheering on my brother who was a hockey player. But I’ve always enjoyed the game and my favourite NHL team is the Calgary Flames.

Are the events in your time travel disasters actually true?

Obviously, the time travel element of the books is fictional, but the events associated with the disasters are as historically accurate as I can make them, based on my research. These historical events are fascinating tales.

Do you give workshops for students and teachers?

Do you give workshops for students and teachers?

All the time! Detailed information about writing workshops and teacher inservices, as well as author visits can be found on the website.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

Normally, it takes me approximately two years to write a novel. Sometimes the planning and research can take a good six months and the revision process usually takes about a year.

I heard that the only survivor of the Frank Slide was a baby. Is that true?

No. There were approximately 100 people in the path of the slide; 70 of those people died, but 30 survived. One of the survivors was a baby whom was thrown from her crib and landed unharmed on a hay bale from a nearby stable.

Where can I get your books?

My books are available at local bookstores, or from Amazon or Chapters. Class sets can be ordered from Ronsdale Press.

Where do your characters come from?

My characters come from so many different sources – kids I meet, my imagination, people I know. In my historical novels, the characters are usually composite characters – combinations of the people I’ve come to know in my research. I intentionally don’t use “real” people from the past, as I would hate to misrepresent them in any way.

Why did you decide to write about the Crowsnest Pass in Shadows of Disaster?

As a young girl, I spent most of my summers at my grandparents’ place in the Crowsnest Pass, in the shadow of Frank Slide. I was always fascinated by the slide and loved to climb on the rocks. But I was always fascinated by two things. First, why were the rocks in the slide so enormous? And secondly, how did anybody living in the path of the slide survive? So, I decided to write a story about the Frank Slide and answer those two questions in the process. By the way, there are two questions and just one answer.

About Cathy

Picture of Cathy with her dogAs a child, I never dreamed that I would become an author. I loved to read, almost any book I could find, but I only really wrote when I had to in school. It wasn’t until I became a teacher, after finishing a BA in English and a BEd at the University of Alberta, that I started to write. Although I’d never seen myself as a “writer”, I’d always had a fascination with language and story. My grandparent’s house in the Crowsnest Pass was the hub of their large, Italian families. They hosted dozens of relatives every summer, usually all at the same time. In the evening after we had caught grasshoppers, chased fireflies and let the mountain air run away with our kites, we gathered in their tiny house to hear the stories our relatives told. Every story changed depending on the storyteller, the day, and the response of the audience, and as a young girl, I grew to love these moments. Story fascinated me and words and language mesmerized me. I am still mesmerized by words and story, which is why I write.

When I first started to write, I wrote short stories, primarily because they were short. The thought of writing a novel intimidated me – still does. I have to take it chapter by chapter, and eventually it all comes together in pieces and chunks. I left teaching when my eldest daughter was born and decided to work up some of my unfinished assignments into a short story. That spring, I submitted a story to the Calgary Herald Short Story Contest. My piece got an honorable mention, and I figured, “How hard can this be?” Very! Except I didn’t know that then, so I blissfully continued writing while my three daughters were young. When my youngest was eight months old, we decided to move half way around the world to the Middle East, to a beautiful country called the Sultanate of Oman. It was everything Canada was not. The woman wore black abayahs and, sometimes, burkas over their faces, the men wore long flowing dishdashas, the trumpet flowers perfumed the night air, the outdoor markets smelled of frankincense. We swam with the whale sharks and snorkeled with the sea turtles, and I thought Oman would be the most wonderful place in the world to write about. Instead, I found that I desperately wanted to write about something Canadian, something familiar – home. So when we returned to Calgary after four years in the Middle East, I wrote my first hockey novel, Offside. Hockey was definitely Canadian. There was another place that I also wanted to write about and that was the Frank Slide in the Crowsnest Pass, where my grandparents had lived and I had spent all my summers as a child. And so Shadows of Disaster came about, followed by three other disaster novels and another hockey book.

When I’m not writing, I can often be found at my daughters’ various sporting events, reading or running with my dog. I live in Calgary, Alberta Canada and although I no longer teach full time, I am still involved with the schools, conducting writing workshops for students, giving author talks, and doing professional development presentations on teaching creative writing for teachers.