Author Interview with Barbara Fradkin

Author Interview with Barbara Fradkin thumbnail

Author Interview with Barbara Fradkin

Posted on June 7 by Barbara Fradkin
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Pinterest

Caitlyn: Tell us about your book.

Barbara: THE WHISPER OF LEGENDS is set in the Nahanni National Park Reserve in Canada's Northwest Territories. The Nahanni is a UNESCO world heritage river that wends through stunning mountain ranges, waterfalls and treacherous whitewater. Thrilling and dangerous, it is the perfect backdrop for a desperate search. The story opens when a broken canoe is washed up on the shore and Inspector Michael Green learns that his spirited teenage daughter has gone missing on her canoe trip. Green is terrified. The park has 30,000 square kilometres of wilderness and 600 grizzles, but he has no choice but to go up to search for her.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Barbara: I have had eight outings with Inspector Green, mostly in and around Ottawa. I felt I needed a change of scene and he needed a challenge that would push him to his limits. What better place than perhaps the wildest and most beautiful river in the world? Green is a confirmed inner city boy, comfortable with the urban dangers of both stone mansions and crumbling tenements. But he scrambles to make sense of the wilderness, where his experience and his instincts are little help. There are real human dangers in the book as well, of course, allowing him some toehold on sanity.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the title?

Barbara: The book is about more than just a group of missing canoeists on the trail of an abandoned gem mine. It is about the timeless history of the land, about its secrets and its fascination for those who have looked for riches in its vast silence. It's a place where stories are passed down, embellished, invented, a place of legends whispered by the very hills.

Caitlyn: Describe your ideal writing environment.

Barbara: Curled up in a comfortable chair with a drink at my elbow, surrounded by peace and quiet. This could be by the fire in my living room, on a chaise longue in my backyard, or on a Muskoka chair on my cottage dock. I am a true dinosaur; I write my first drafts longhand on pads of paper. For some reason my creative muse does not visit when I am sitting at the computer. I think I associate pen and paper with creativity and imagination, and computer keyboards with work. The latter is fine for editing but not for the first flow. Writing for me is a very unstructured process that requires lots of open space where the imagination can roam. I do not write from an outline and I may not know what's going to happen next, let alone how it's all going to end. I have tried outlining, because everyone says it's good for you, and sometimes it works but often it feels contraining and contrived when I try to force the story and the characters into the scenes I had planned. They want to say, "But this is a way better story over here!" So my pen and I go with the flow.

Caitlyn: What was the best advice you've ever received as a writer?

Barbara: Once when I despaired of ever getting published, a writer friend said, "You will get published. You just may not have written the book that will get published yet." This told me that writing is a learning process and that some manuscripts are just practice. Keep writing, keep working to hone your craft, and eventually you will write something worthy of publication. Very good advice, especially for those tempted to take shortcuts to get into print.

Barbara Fradkin

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Barbara Fradkin photo

Barbara Fradkin

Barbara Fradkin is a retired psychologist who is fascinated with why people turn bad. She has written numerous short stories and novellas as well as the critically acclaimed Inspector Green novels. Two of these, Fifth Son and Honour Among Men, have won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. She lives in Ottawa.