Woohoo, another Canadian author! We’re takin’ over, baby! Kelly Jamieson decided to do something a little different for her guest blogging today. She decided to interview me (go figure!) and compare our experiences of growing up in Canada during the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Kelly is another very busy author. She’s already got six books out – Worth Waiting For from Amber Quill Press, Friends with Benefits and Love Me from Samhain, Dream Girl from Wild Rose Press, All I Want for Christmas from Cobblestone Press, and her free read – Insatiable. But she’s also got 5 more releases scheduled for the next few months! How to Save a Life, comes out on July 26th (gee, that date seems familiar) from Amber Quill Press, Love Me More is being released by Samhain Publishing in October, Ellora’s Cave is releasing her Sexpresso Night in November of this year. She’s also already got a release lined up for next year with Samhain – 2 Hot to Handle.
Like me, Kelly started out reading books like the Bobbsey Twins (does anyone else remember them?) and of course Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Ann of Green Gables. (Come on, we’re Canadian romance writers, did you think we wouldn’t have read them and fallen in love with Ann and Gilbert? Oh, all right, I admit it, I loved Ann, Gilbert – well, I wasn’t so hot for him. I thought he was a bit uppity.)
Oh, and Kelly’s also got a milestone birthday coming up. Can you believe from that photo that we’re the same age? She is one hot looking lady isn’t she?
Anyway, enough of me blathering, I’ll let Kelly take over the interview now …
Kelly: Leah this year we both have BIG birthdays. How do you feel about that?
Leah: I’m divided about it. I’ve never hesitated to tell anyone my age before. I feel like I’ve aged well, and it’s never been an issue – in fact when I was talking about the Birthday Bash at last month’s writers’ group meeting and mentioned my age, several ladies gasped and said “no way.” But lately my body is letting me know it’s getting to ‘that age’ and so for the first time I’m not happy about having this milestone birthday. It didn’t help that last year I had to help make the decision about putting my father in a nursing home. Ever since I’ve been thinking “I’ve only got 30 years left before I’m like him,” which is not a happy thought.
I think seeing our parents age definitely reminds us of our own aging and mortality. Both my parents died pretty young – my dad when he was only 47. When I turned 43 that was a bit difficult because my mom was a widow at that age. It was scary to imagine myself in that situation at that age, since I still feel like a kid in so many ways!
We are also both Canadian and born in the same year. I’m sure we must share some childhood memories. As a child did you watch The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup?
Oh yes, I watched both. In fact I watched Mr. Dressup when it was still known as Butternut Square. I adored The Friendly Giant (except for the musical segments with the cats – even when I was five I thought they were cheesy. I wanted the stories he’d read every day.) When I went to kindergarten, it was standard procedure for the school that half the kids went in the morning, the other half went in the afternoon, then halfway through the year everyone switched. I’d gone afternoon the first part of the year, and I remember being really upset when I had to switch to mornings because I was going to miss The Friendly Giant and Chez Helene and Mr. Dressup. (Remember, this was in the 60s, there were no video recorders or PVR capabilities back then.) I found this clip – OMG does it bring back memories. Especially the “there’s the boot. Now look up. Waaay up.” After the story, my favorite was the section about the chairs by the fireplace and the rocking chair for someone to curl up in. (yeah, it’s a Canadian thing.)
Oh yes, Chez Helene – my first French words! And, in the 60’s we only had one television channel, which is mind boggling when you think of the hundreds we have now.
Tell me some other childhood memories.We drive our kids to school every day, unlike me who as a child walked a good mile there and back twice a day (uphill both ways LOL) and through blizzards.
I didn’t have to walk three miles to school, but I did have two hills-one down and one up- to trudge along as I walked out the 1/2 mile or so to the bus each day. So I guess I did have to walk uphill both ways, LOL. In February 1971 (I think) we had a blizzard where so much snow fell so quickly that the buses couldn’t get through it and they had to be cancelled. A group of parents came on their snow mobiles to ferry us home. By the next day, the snow banks were over ten foot high and we could literally walk over the stop sign at the end of the road. It took them nearly a week to dig us out. The plough got stuck – they had to call in special heavy duty equipment to dig everyone out. We lived in a snow belt area, you could get trapped down your road for weeks – literally – before the ploughs could get to you. So my elementary school gave us snowmobile driving lessons since everyone had a snowmobile to get around in winter.
Now that has to be quintessentially Canadian, snowmobile lessons in school. I do remember one blizzard where people were using snowmobiles in the streets.
Snow forts were normal and although my parents never built a skating rink in our back yard (we lived on a hill, no flat spots around) I would go skating at various neighbors’ places. (The picture to the right is my parents’ backyard and though it looks flat at the bottom of the hill, it’s not, it slopes too much for a skating rink.) Yes I did take figure skating lessons, but not hockey. I lived near a ski resort, and though I did cross-country ski, I saw too many friends breaking limbs and chickened out at doing down-hill. (Our school bus reserved the first couple seats for people with broken legs – it was always filled every winter, especially since we had an option of taking skiing as one of our phys-ed courses.)
LOL that’s funny! My phys. Ed course was figure skating. I wish so much I had continued with it because I love to watch figure skating now. We lived on the prairies so backyard skating rinks were pretty common. My dad wasn’t the best ice maker though!
I remember a lot of beautiful summers too – camping and canoeing around the rivers and lakes in Algonquin Park with black bears swimming in front of you. And the wasp attack on the campsite when my mother pulled out a birthday cake she’d bought that day. I also have to mention camping at Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario – I still love it and took my own sons there when they were little. I don’t think there are sand dunes like it anywhere else in Ontario. Oh, and Fort Henry – I can still feel the reverberation in my chest from when the fifes and drums came through the tunnel into the central courtyard. Magnificent.
I’m glad you mentioned summers, because everyone thinks of Canada as just winter. I have some great memories, too, of Riding Mountain National Park – so beautiful there. And now I live only an hour from one of the best beaches in North America, Grand Beach. It sounds weird that one of the best beaches is smack in the middle of the continent, but check out that powdery white sand.
Whose posters did you have plastered on your bedroom wall as a girl?
I wasn’t allowed to put posters up on the walls (when we had walls – my parents built our house so we went several years with only sheets separating the rooms.) I wasn’t a fan of either Donny Osmond or Michael Jackson who were all the heart throbs in Tiger Beat at the time, though there may have been a few Partridge Family albums around 😉
Oh yeah, the Partridge Family. I clipped many picture of them from Tiger Beat, especially David Cassidy. And my friends and I used to lip synch to their records (vinyl LP natch!!) in our own band. OMG how embarrassing.
Describe one of your favourite outfits in high school…
We didn’t have a lot of money, so my mom made most of my clothes or adjusted old outfits of my sister’s. And girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school back then, so it was only skirts and blouses. However I remember one particular outfit she made for me back in the early 70s – a pair of orange-print hot pants which were really popular. (very similar to the ones worn in this picture.) Trouble is she wouldn’t let me buy the white go-go boots that would have gone perfectly with them. I loved those hot pants, I felt so hip in them. (And since I was underweight at the time, I looked great in them.) I know I used to have pictures of me in them, but they’re all up at my mom’s–I don’t have any copies 🙁
Woo hoo, check out those hot pants! I had something like that too. And my grandma made one of my favourite outfits, too, how about that. It was bell bottom pants with a matching long, knee-length vest over a white shirt with a big collar.
Bell bottoms! I forgot about those. Did your pair have a slit up the side with a different color fabric in them? My DH had a pair that had a Canadian flag inserted in his. He was really proud of them.
How big was your hair in the eighties? Did you wear legwarmers to aerobics class?
I never took an aerobics class, but I did take karate so I wore a gi and bare feet – no leg warmers. My hair was either short and curly (no smart remarks please), or long and straight. I never got into the ‘big hair’ syndrome that attacked most women in the 80s, LOL. Well, okay, I did once – for my sister’s wedding, but right after that I went back to straight hair.
I definitely had big hair (another photo attached). My hair is thick and wavy, I could make it REALLY BIG. The photo was actually 1990, but I kept those 80’s bangs for a long time, probably too long. I looked like I had no head without them. You can’t see it very well in the picture (taken at a wedding by a drunk friend, hence the creative angle) but the shoulder pads were huge too!
When you started writing, did you use a typewriter?
I used an old manual typewriter my parents had – it’s how I learned to type so that when I went into my high school typing class I was already typing at 60 words per minute. (I graduated at 83 w.p.m.)
Hey me too! Typing class just taught me to do it right. I’m still a fast typist/keyboarder.
I think my mom still has that old typewriter. I did a lot of writing on it, though I never kept anything. (Mom may have, but I think I destroyed most of it before I moved out as I was sure it would be criticized.)
My parents bought me a little toy typewriter and I pounded the heck out of that thing writing “my novel”. I don’t have any of those early works, either, I’m sure they’d be hilarious. When did you switch to a computer?
I switched to computers back in 1982 or 1983 when the bank I was working for brought in IBM Displaywriters that used 8 inch floppy disks, and no internal drives. At home, Gizmo Guy and I bought an Apple IIe and I used a word processing program called Gutenberg which is very similar to modern day HTML. We gradually worked through numerous computers until I was teaching DOS, Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect 5.1 at a local college. That was back in the days when you had to relearn the programs every six months as they brought out a new version. We moved to Windows 3.1 in the early 90s and Word and Excel soon after.
Thing is I never kept the stories I saved onto those disks. I let Gizmo Guy drill a hole in the hard drives so no one could get any private information off of them and then we’d toss them. I never figured any of my writing was worth anything – well, except for the birth stories I wrote for my boys.
Sounds like you are very tech savvy which I am so not. But I loved it when it could start writing on a computer (wasn’t until the 90’s) – cutting, pasting, no more White Out!
What do you think was your best decade – (teens, twenties, thirties)
I think I remember my twenties most fondly – pre-children, travelling, being free and easy. Once we had the boys, and bought the house then the priorities changed and things became more of a challenge. However, now the boys are older, even though we’ve still got a mortgage, things are easing up. There are still ‘issues’ since I’ve become a member of the sandwich generation, but I’m not obsessing about things the way I used to either. I’ve learned to stop worrying about things I can’t change. Well, for the most part anyway.
That would probably be the same for me. We got married in 1984 and my husband and I both liked to travel and party a lot, so we had so much fun pre-kids. I had my first baby when I was thirty, so my thirties became all about family, which was definitely an adjustment for a party couple, but I totally threw myself into being a mother and I loved it.
Best decade for fun? My twenties, though now the boys are older, my forties weren’t bad either – I’ve managed to pack a lot of travelling into this decade.
for love? It’s getting better each year. Honestly, it is. I’ve been married 31 years, and I still love my husband and am ‘in love’ with him. We are always hugging and finding ways to touch each other (much to our sons’ disgust) as if we’re still newlyweds. In fact on a trip to Montreal a couple years back, a friend of ours teased us about how we were holding hands as we were walking down Rue St. Catherine.
See I knew we had a lot in common! This is true for my husband and me too. Not only do we both celebrate big birthdays this year but in June it was our 25th wedding anniversary. Yeah, the kids don’t appreciate the parents getting affectionate. I once got an email from my daughter asking us to “keep it down” in the bedroom. Oops.
Yikes! But Go You!
for sex? See above – it’s getting better each year. There were some comments on Twitter yesterday by some powerful people in the industry who said that authors should NEVER talk about their sex life online or ever say anything like how their husbands love to help them do research. So I won’t. (But he does. 😉 )
for career success? Hmm, each decade has seen me in a different career path … but I’d say this past year has seen my most fulfilling career successes.
When I turned 40, I got my dream job in management at an insurance company and I was very career focused. But since I got back into writing, I really don’t care so much about that, I’m more focused on retirement so I can write full time. I get so much enjoyment and fulfillment from my writing, way more than the business world.
for personal growth? That’s gone in fits and starts – but I think I made my biggest personal growth in my fortieth year. I’m a slow child, what can I say?
Yeah, I still feel like I’m growing up. Having some success as a writer has been huge for me. How do you plan to celebrate your birthday?
Do you know, I haven’t decided yet. We’ve been going back and forth about how to celebrate. I’d love to either go back to Banff or fly to England. However, the upstairs bathroom sink/vanity needs replacing before it floods the whole house, the eavestrough at the front of the house was ripped off during an ice storm last winter and needs to be replaced, the fireplace chimney needs to be replaced and … well, you get the drift. I really am having a hard time justifying any expenditures on myself when there’s so much to be done around here. Especially when I’m hoping to get to Lori Foster’s event next year, or at least RT and/or the RWA national conference in Nashville next year. And we’re already planning a trip to New York in 2011 for the national conference that year (Gizmo Guy can’t wait to show me NY city) . All dependent upon that upstairs sink, the eavestrough and the chimney of course. In reality, we’ll probably go out for dinner and a movie.
I know what you mean about the money and justifying those kinds of expenses. We too wanted to celebrate with a big trip, I was hoping Ireland. But the recession has affected my husband’s business over the last year so financially we had to compromise and we went to Santa Barbara, California. We love it there. That was also our 25th anniversary celebration. The kids came, which is okay because they’re actually kind of fun, and we went away ourselves overnight to tour a winery and taste some wines and stay alone in a gorgeous hotel room, which was romantic and perfect.
Thanks for reminiscing with me Leah about our first 50 years and here’s hoping the next 50 will be even better!
Happy birthday Leah!
(photo of Kelly credited to Lance Thompson Photographic)
I admit, I had a hard time deciding what title to use for Kelly’s post. It was either the one I used or “Kelly Jamieson’s Too Hot To Handle” … I figured her picture told that story.