I look forward to a time, in the not so distant future, when we no longer look forward to 'firsts' as milestones women have yet to achieve, but we look back on them as historic events that continue to teach and inspire. Dee Dee Myers

Wayne Kerr Interview Published on: 27, Mar 2018

Tell us a little about your life growing up in Biggar, Saskatchewan. Is it truly as flat as they say?

Growing up in and around a small mid-western place like Biggar was wonderful. There was no traffic to speak of, so for a young boy the whole town was a playground. I’m certain the winters were just as long and cold back then, as they are now, but I remember rushing home after school to grab my hockey stick to play out on the street. If there wasn’t a game on our block there would be one on the next one. I was very fortunate to have tons of friends and lots of family around me when I was young.

Yes, Saskatchewan is as flat as they say. For example, when it was our province’s turn to hold the Canadian Winter Games, we had to build a mountain to hold the alpine skiing events.

How did you and your wife meet? And has she ever made an appearance in any one of your novels?

My wife and I were high school sweethearts. I can’t recall exactly when I met her, we were in the same grade but went to different schools. However, I definitely noticed her in high school and we started dating senior year. By the way, that was the smartest thing I ever did in twelve years of school.

The character, Janet, in Ric-A- Dam-Doo is based on my amazing wife. I took some dramatic license when I added fighting skills, but the passion, intelligence and drive to succeed are based on the woman I am privileged to live with every day.

What got you into writing crime fiction? How were you first introduced to this genre?

Long before I aspired to do any writing, crime fiction was my favorite thing to read. I love the good verses bad dynamic, especially when the odds are stacked against the good guy. It was natural and inevitable that I’d eventually write in this genre.

James Bond was my introduction to crime fiction. I saw the movie ‘Diamonds are Forever’ and subsequently read everything I could get my hands on by Ian Fleming. That was also when I first started a life long love of libraries.

How do you plan out your mysteries when you start writing a book so that all the pieces come together in the end? Which of your books was the hardest to make the pieces come together and finish?

Some call it ‘organic writing’ or ‘flying by the seat of your pants’. Whatever you want to call it, I don’t use outlines. I let the characters drive the story forward. Of course, I know who the antagonist is and how he or she did the crime, but even I don’t know how the protagonist will figure things out and catch the bad guy until near the end of the first draft. The rewrite or second draft fills in a lot of details.

I don’t have an answer for which was the hardest to put the pieces together. Every book has its own challenges and you could tinker with them forever trying to make them perfect, though you never will. ‘Ric-A- Dam-Doo’ took the longest to write and rewrite. I shuffled chapters around a lot during the rewrites. ‘Framed’ was the most intimidating to write, so far. Tackling a murder mystery was intimidating for me, since I love the genre so much. I’m in awe of the writers that do them so well.

What was it like writing from the perspective of a teenage girl in "Dwelf - Guardian of the Realms: Book of Spells"? How did you write this POV to make it believable and realistic?

Loads of fun. I’d already had some practice with the character Yzzie in the ‘X + Y Files series.

I had a lot of help writing in a teenaged girl’s perspective from my daughter. ‘Dwelf’ was a labor of love for me to write. Before I turned it into a book, this was one of my daughter’s favorite bedtime stories when she was young. I used to either read or make up stories and she most often preferred the made-up ones since I would often incorporate her and her friends. If I suggested or said something that a young girl wouldn’t do or say, she would stop the story and correct me. Many years later, I put the story on paper and gave it to her as a Christmas present. I really enjoyed the process, plus, it gave me the courage to attempt writing a real book.

What are some rules a writer always has to follow when writing a book based on the government on military? What is the research involved?

Rule 1: do your homework. I did a lot of research before and during the writing of ‘Ric-A- Dam-Doo’. I had little knowledge of the Canadian military prior to this. These brave men and women put their lives on the line for us and I wouldn’t want to disrespect them or their organization in any way. Rule2: Get help from an expert. Fortunately, in my case, I also have a cousin who served in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry so I had an inside source to help correct any of my blunders. Though the Snow Devils are an entirely mythical special forces team, I did my best to portray the unit as realistically as possible. Rule 3: it is okay to refer to these soldiers as Patricias or Pats for short, but you’d better not call them Princesses more than once.

Reading everything I could find on the Patricias and the history of Canadian Special Forces, which shares its beginnings with American Special Forces. The first special forces teams were called ‘The Black Devils’ or ‘The Devil’s Brigade’ and were made up of both Americans and Canadians.

What are some minor themes in the book "Ric-A- Dam-Doo: The Snow Devils" that are more subtle but you hope your readers will pick up on?

One of the minor themes that I hope resonated with readers is that honor and selflessness is more important than fame and glory. I also wanted to raise the awareness of very serious issues such as slavery and human trafficking which are still happening in the world around us and not just on the other side of the world.

Is your character Reggie Swann based on yourself or anyone you know? Which character of yours is most like you and did you intend for it to be that way when you wrote them?

Reggie Swann is an amalgamation of several of the men and women that I know whose true strength has been revealed when overcoming diversity.

A lot of the characters, good and evil, have aspects of me in them. However, I’d have to say that the character most like myself would be the father in ‘Dwelf’. The Summers family in the story has a mother, father and daughter, just like our family unit but embellished with skills beyond our own for the story’s sake. In this middle earth style fantasy the father was a forest elf(I’ve occasionally been accused of never completely growing up), the mother a mountain dwarf and their teenage daughter a dwelf. Each has strengths and weaknesses, but together they can overcome the greatest adversary.

Who does most of your proof-reading for you? How important is editing for an author?

My wife and my brother do most of the proof-reading for me. At one point in her illustrious career my wife was a contract administrator and is a stickler for errors. My brother was an English major in University and is a fellow writer whose grammar skills greatly outshine my own. After they find an embarrassing number of mistakes, I make the corrections and then forward the manuscript to an editor.

Some of my books were self-published and some have been traditionally published and I can tell you that an editor is paramount to the book publishing process no matter which route you choose. I have learned so much from the editors that I’ve worked with. Their job is to make your book better. Story arcs, pacing, scene additions and deletions are just some of the aspects that will help make your book a better and more satisfying read. Editors, proof-readers and cover designers have all helped make my work into books I’m proud of. As they say it takes a village.

What kind of stories do you tell in the The X+Y Files series? Is there any significance to the names "Xander" and "Yzzie"?

The X + Y Files are paranormal adventures for middle grade readers. They are pretty much television’s ‘The X – Files’ for kids. Are UFOs real? Does a fun-loving family of Sasquatch live under the beautiful red rocks of Sedona? Is a ghost haunting one of their school mates? What secrets are hidden inside Area 51? The truth may surprise you!

In the place of Mulder and Scully we have Xander and Yzzie, who are the X and Y of the series title. These characters originally had different names, however, one of my beta readers didn’t think they suited the characters. He was right. I changed their names and the name of the series.

When did you write your first series and how was it different from writing a standalone? What has been your longest running series so far?

I wrote ‘Monsters and Miracles’ with the idea that it could be a series. I then added two more books, ‘Kristin’s Ghost’ and ‘Escape From Area 51’. I had some ideas for additional books in the series but started to work on a project for young adults and then one for adults. I had a sequel half written for Ric-A- Dam-Doo, but didn’t like where it was going and put it to the side for now. I think most fictional books, unless you kill off the protagonist, could become a series.

So far, three books in a series is the most I’ve done. My recently published novel ‘Framed’ is the first installment in the Black Swann Investigation series. I’m currently beginning the first round of editing on book two and am half finished the first draft of the third installment. After these are done I’m not certain what I’ll work on next.

How do you know you've done a good job after writing a book? What has been the best review you've gotten to date?

You don’t know how good a job you’ve done until you start getting independent reviews from readers. You certainly get feedback from your beta readers, however, most of these people are friends or family (at least in my case) and it is difficult for them to be impartial. Also, if a publisher is willing to produce your book, that is a good indicator but not a certainty that it will be well received. While a bad review may sting a little, critique is a writer’s friend and absolutely necessary if you desire to improve at your craft. On the other hand, a good review can be very encouraging.

The best and most enthusiastic review that one of my books has received came recently for ‘Framed’. Here is the first line from the review: “Wow!! Just Wow!! I loved the plot! I loved the characters!” When I found this review, it made my day.

What are some ways in which you push yourself to continue to grow as a writer? Do you think being stagnant can become a dangerous thing for a writer?

I’m competitive, sports have been the driving force for me since I was a boy. I began writing late in life but feel the same desire to put my best foot forward on the page, as I do on the tennis court. I learn new skills and techniques every time I work with an editor or read a best seller. For me it is a matter of pride. I want readers to be waiting for my next novel.

Writing a book is a daunting task. It takes discipline and hard work. Being stagnant can be a concern. Life happens, priorities can change, writers can lose momentum. I’m a believer in getting the whole story written from beginning to end, before doing any editing. I try to write every day during this period. I’ve met a lot of people at conferences and writing groups that have been working on a manuscript for years and never get to the ending. Finish the first draft as quickly as possible, edit it later. I promise you, it will require editing so save it to the end.

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