Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Chat with Vicki Delany

Sandra Parshall

Vicki Delany is the author of two psychological suspense novels and the upcoming first book in a police procedural series. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised mostly in Ontario, she traveled to South Africa in her twenties, married a man she met there and had three daughters. After eleven years, Vicki returned to Canada, where she still lives. Her stay in Africa, she says, gave her “an insight into to the politics of power and oppression that few Canadians get to experience.”

Would you tell us about your path to publication? How long were writing before you published your first book?

Several years at least. When I look back now, I can see that my first efforts weren't really good enough, so I'm not surprised that they were rejected. But then I began taking advice, and criticism, and got Scare the Light Away to the point where Poisoned Pen Press were kind enough to accept it.

Have you found readers in the U.S. receptive to your Canadian settings and characters?

Generally when I meet American readers they seem to enjoy the Canadian elements. Either because they like reading about people in different countries, or because they have some sort of link with Canada and love to read books that reinforce that link.

What attracted you to the World War II era as a background and setting for fiction?

My books Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory are both contemporary stories with flashbacks to World War II. I think that the war years were so tramautic for almost everyone who lived through them, particularly, of course, in places where the bombs were actually falling and shots being fired, that it is easy to imagine that some of the drama, the consequences, of that time can effect families and individuals all these years later. And old secrets are the life-blood of suspense novels. My new novel, In the Shadow of the Glacier, due out in September, is strictly a contemporary setting - some of the drama in that book is influenced by things that happened during the Vietnam War, but there are no flashbacks or remembrances. Glacier, incidently, is the first in a series featuring Constable Molly Smith and Seargant John Winters of the (fictional) Trafalgar City Police.

You lived in South Africa for a number of years. Do you plan to use your experiences there in your fiction?

I would like to, very much. For one thing, I haven't been back to South Africa for more than twenty years, and I'd love to. I thought a bit about having a back story during the Boer War (in which Canadians were involved), but that seems to have been abandoned.
Perhaps some day I'll resurrect the idea.

What attracts you to psychological suspense, as opposed to straight mystery?

I like family dynamics - families are a gold mine for crime writers! Although I hasten to add that there is nothing in my own family that might cause me to think so! I like books that are character driven as much as, or more than, plot driven. For In the Shadow of the Glacier I wanted to write a traditional police procedural, but it has some elements of psychological suspense as well. The setting is a very small town and the police have to deal with their own families, and their own relationships, which may (or may not) have some involvement with the crime they are investigating.

Do you work full-time? How do you fit writing and promotion into your life?

I was fortunate enough to reitre at the end of March. Up until then I had been working full time as a systems analyst at a major bank. And it was tough finding the time for my writing. What suffered was the promotion end of the business. But this year I'm planning to really get out there any promote the books. I'm going to Murder in the Grove in June, to Bouchercon in September, and plan to take In the Shadow of the Glacier on a book tour down the west coast in October/November. I'm spending the summer in the interior of British Columbia, close to where the Constable Molly Smith books are set, and I'll really enjoy writing the next book when I'm right there. I even have a lunch date coming up with the police detective kind enough to help me with In the Shadow of the Glacer.

What aspects of your writing have you consciously tried to improve?

Characters and setting have always been inportant to me, more than plot.
But now that I'm doing a police procedural series, the plot has to be tight and focused. I'm working very hard on that

What writers have influenced you? What qualities attract you in another author's work?

The book about writing that I enjoyed the most was On Writing, by Stephen King. The books I most like to read are the standard British police procedurals -- Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson, the (sadly) late Jill McGown. Books with real depth of character combined with an intricate plot.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

In On Writing, Stephen King says that if you want to be a writer you have to do two things - you have to write and you have to read. Sounds simple but that's about it. There's no point in thinking about how one day you'll start that book. You have to sit down and write it. And if you want to know what people want to read, then you have to read as well.

Learn more about the author and her work at

1 comment:

Julia Buckley said...

Hi again, Vicki! Nice to hear you're getting the most out of retirement--it sounds great.

I hope to see you at some events in the future. And I agree about Jill McGown. I'll miss her.

Nice interview, Sandra.