Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Mystery Guest

Here we are on a Monday morning. For some of you it is Spring Break, and to that I say -- hurray! I wish you fair weather and clear roads -- time to break out the skateboard. (NOT literally -- just take it out and coast around on it a bit, okay? No breaking involved...)

The first actual party-type launch of the new book A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW, (in which I play a pivotal role, she says modestly) is taking place this Thursday in North Vancouver, British Columbia. For details, check out leftwriter, the blog of author kc dyer.

She handles all my press.

I'm too busy interviewing authors, and today is no exception.

Check out this mysterious creature. The crown is a bit of a hint, because this author was not actually born in Canada OR the United States. She's recently published her first book for kids and has a second one ready to go, hot on the heels of the first. But this author has had ink-stained fingers for a lot longer than that. Let's unmask her first, and then find out more, shall we?

That's better! Please welcome Lois Peterson to my blog today.

Darby Christopher: Hi Lois! A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW is all about how different people came to live in Canada. Where were you born?

Lois Peterson: I was born in a small market town called Hailsham in Sussex, England. The only thing the town was known for then, was that it housed the factory that made rope for the hangman's noose. Now that hanging is abolished in England, the most interesting about Hailsham is that it still holds a livestock market - as it had done since the Middle Ages.

DC: Ooooo -- the hangman's noose is pretty creepy! So, where do you live now?

LP: I came to Vancouver in 1972 after living in New York for a year. I came to check it out. I never consciously made the decision to stay, but here I am. Now I live near the sea in White Rock, BC. Which is 4,752 miles from Sussex, or 7,647 km.

DC: Since you come from England, you must have heard some cool stories about your family when you were a kid. Can you tell me one?

LP: Because we don't all live close to each other, when we do get together we tell a lot of stories that we've all heard before - I think to reassure each other that we do belong together. My favourites are:

The Day Lois Ran Away from Boarding School in Her Housecoat
(I walked about four miles before I was 'retrieved' by a policeman whose car I tried to outrun - in my slippers. The story has been around so long, and I've made up so many versions of it, that I'm not sure anyone can really be sure what did and did not happen.)

The Day Grandad Was Stopped Going Home from Work By a Policeman.
He not believe Grandad lived in the neighborhood. (My grandfather's family was evacuated in the war from London to a very posh part of Eastbourne in Sussex - the family was a rough lot, so must have looked very suspicious and out of place.)

Why Bill Peterson is Allergic to Pears (that's my dad, and he's not!).

My Family Was So Poor We Could Not Afford to Have Parents - one of my father's many tall tales.

You can see we're a rather boring lot - no great dramas or adventures in our family. But we do love to tell the same stories over and over again, and contradict each other when we change the smallest details. When we're telling stories, our family motto is "All that follows is true. And that that isn't, ought to be."

DC: Well, maybe your adventures are of a more physical kind. Can you ride a skateboard?

LP: Oh, I wish! I was a whizz at roller skating when I was at boarding school - every night after supper about 40 of us would put on our skates and skate around the netball court. There was not much room for fancy footwork, but I could skate backwards really well. But that was a long time ago...

DC: I think skating backwards on roller skates is pretty adventurous! Do you have any other secret skill you’d like to share?

LP: I used to boast that I could knit, drink coffee, watch TV, read and smoke a cigarette all at the same time. I quit smoking years ago, and haven't had a TV since about 1995. But I could still do the other three things at once, I think. If I had to. If I could find my knitting needles.
I am very good at Jacks. Does that count? I can't think of much else.

DC: I played jacks when I was in PEI at my grandparents' house. I also had some other adventures there. If you were like me and had a chance to walk through a window into the past, where would you go?

LP: This sounds very odd, as it was a grim time. But I'd like to go back to the East End of London in Victorian times. I love to know how people lived - not the rich and famous, but working class people. And although they were hard times, there was a lot of community spirit and energy in the streets of terrace houses, street markets, churches and pubs. And working class children had a lot of freedom in those days, so I'd imagine they'd have many interesting adventures, especially around the docks where ships came from all parts of the world carrying exotic cargo.

DC: I'm kinda fond of the grim times, myself. Anyone special you’d like to meet?

LP: Grace Darling was a young Victorian girl whose father was a lighthouse keeper. During a bad storm, she persuaded him to rescue sailors aboard a ship that had run aground, even though the weather was far too dangerous to go out. She went out in the lifeboat with him, everyone on board was saved, and Grace became a heroine - known all over England, sung about in Music Hall songs. Apparently, she didn't do much very interesting after that, and died quite young. So I'd love to have the chance to meet her to find out what life was like after such a huge adventure, and how it might have changed her.

When I was thinking of writing a book based on Grace's story (there have been three or four already), my research yielded one bit of strange information - everyone on that ship that night were men, except one woman (it was carrying cargo - not passengers). The writer in me would also like to know who that woman was, and what was her story, too.

DC: Whoa -- that sounds really exciting! Can you tell me a bit about your latest project?

LP: I have a bit of a grasshopper mind, so I juggle several stories at once. One is called ELSIE AND THE SILVER RAIN about a young girl whose mother, during the Depression in Vancouver, signs up for a dance marathon for a chance to win some money - which the family badly needs. But as Elsie's grandmother would not have approved, her mother tells her and Elsie that she's going to stay with a sick friend in New Westminster. The story is about how Elsie finds out, and how her mother's deception and desperation changes her, and the rest of her family.

Another is a YA novel about a boy who is stalked by the man who accidentally killed his father.

And another is an adventure story set in the Marshes of Southern Iraq. I was brought up in Iraq, but never got to visit the Marshes. But I've always been fascinated by that part of the world.

My next book comes out in Spring 2010 - right now it's called THE BALLAD OF KNUCKLES MCGRAW but that might change. It's about a boy who mentally adopts the persona of a cowboy called Knuckles McGraw and has a horse called Burlington Northern.

DC: Burlington Northern...that's a good name for a horse, especially an Iron Horse! So, when Gramps throws a little spare change my way, I’m personally pretty fond of red licorice. What’s your favourite treat?

LP: Wine gums. Miss Stella in MEETING MISS 405 likes them, too. I'll send a bag of them to whoever wins the copy of my book.

DC: Yum! I may have to enter the draw, myself! If I want to learn more about you or your books on-line, where can I go check you out?

LP: My website is at and I do write a blog at

DC: Thanks for joining me today, Lois.

Now you heard the lady. If you'd like to win a signed copy of MEETING MISS 405 and a bag of wine gums, just leave a comment, below. I'll do a draw on Friday, March 13th -- here's hoping it's your lucky day!



  1. Please count me in! Lois' family stories remind me of my own!

  2. Please enter me.


  3. I've never even heard of Wine Gums. I think I might look and buy some if I don't win because they sound yummy!

  4. I'd love to enter!

  5. Wow, there is a lot of books planned there!

  6. You know how much I love your author interviews and giveaways, Darby/KC? :)

  7. This is great -- lots of possible winners! And listen -- wine gums do NOT taste of wine, but are really good, anyway. I hope you get to win some!


  8. The Day Lois Ran Away from Boarding School in Her Housecoat sounds like a funny story and i understand why it would keep popping up

  9. Never had wine gums? How is that possible? =) On a completely random note, I love the name Elsie.

  10. H - Elsie is actually the name of one of my closest friends, and was the name of one of my mother's good friends, too. But I chose it because it sounded old fashioned. Lois P

  11. Kayla: Ditto, I've also never heard of wine gums, let alone tasted them.

  12. I don't know anyone called Elsie, it is pretty old-fashioned. I guess to use it, I'll have to start writing historical fiction =)