Joanne’s love of writing began at age four, when she wrote her first “book” of poetry. Five pages of scratch drawings, misspelled words and a poorly formed signature was all it took to trigger the writing obsession.
The origin of Joanne’s first novel began with characters that seemed to unwittingly spring to life within her mind. Joanne allowed those characters to speak to her, their voices growing in volume. Finally, their problems became so compelling they began to haunt Joanne’s dreams at night. She couldn’t escape the constant barrage of her characters’ voices, and in February, 2008, Joanne placed her hands on the keyboard for the first time, to exorcise those voices from her head. In June, 2008, the first draft of her manuscript was complete, and now, nearly three years later, her debut novel, Stealing Breath, has been released.
Joanne lives in the country on the Canadian prairie with her family where her stories are inspired by the dead things that appear at her doorstep on a daily basis. She can be found at the following links online:
Joanne, what was the first scene of Stealing Breath?
The first scene of Stealing Breath was written when I still wanted it to be a Young Adult novel. She was a teenager at high school sitting at her locker. Very boring.
Did you have a scene that you loved but ended up cutting?
I had a scene where Sarah actually dies, and has an out-of-body experience and is looking down at herself, dead on the floor. It was a really cool scene, but it just didn’t work with the story, so it got hacked. I’d love to figure out a way to use it in a future novel!
Oh, please do! I’d love to read that.
I usually have an a-ha moment, where an insignificant detail becomes something really important. Did you have a moment like that? Will it spoil the plot to tell me what it was?
Not really, to be honest. I had a lot of critical feedback that lead to some pretty major insights into plot, character and writing problems, definitely. One of the biggest was when my critique partner told me she really hated the hero, to the point where she really wanted to kick him in the ‘nards. I realized he had to be completely revamped. That earlier character is gone, there is absolutely no semblance between him and Evan. Evan is awesome. I love him.
Me, too. He is an intriguing guy. Are you surprised where the story took you? Or if ended up where you planned, were you surprised how you got there?
This story has been through so many different versions, it is nothing like where I thought it would end up. I’ve re-written it about four times, with major overhauls in between. All of the really big problems in its earlier forms have been resolved. I love where it has ended up!
While reading, I thought of “Slave Lake” as the Spirit Lake, North Dakota, where the Sioux reservation is located? Am I close? And if so, why there? What’s special about North Dakota to you?
Yes, Slave Lake was inspired by Spirit Lake, North Dakota, which used to be called “Devil’s Lake”. My paternal grandmother was born there, and I always thought it was such an awesomely creepy name! I’ve never been to Spirit Lake, so I made up Slave Lake instead.
North Dakota was chosen because geographically, it is the most similar to the setting I had in my mind. I’m from Saskatchewan, Canada, and when I imagined many of these scenes, they were in specific places I’m familiar with in my home province. I wanted to target a broad audience, North America wide, so I went with North Dakota. Because who would want to read about Saskatche-what?
I would! Now, the ending allows for you to walk away, but leaves the door open to come back. Are you planning a sequel?
I’ve already written the sequel, and it is sitting with the Acquisitions Editor at Crescent Moon Press right now! The sequel, currently titled Stealing Skin, is far darker than the first. Sarah goes through some awful situations and has to make some morally difficult decisions. I tortured Sarah and Evan relentlessly!
I also wrote part of it in third person (from a different character’s perspective), but I don’t know if that will stay. I quite like it, but not a single person in the world has read it yet, so I have no idea whether other people will feel the same way about it as me!
There are plans for a third, but I’m waiting until the second one has been picked up.
Crossing my fingers for you, Joanne. And, US readers, you can win a copy of Stealing Breath at Goodreads. The giveaway is open until May 21 and I even snagged her widget.
Next Thursday, Eilis Flynn will be here to tell us about her recent release, Static Shock.