I live in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. I've heard it referred to as "...the city that fun forgot...", but that's not what I think. A place is what you make of it. I've lived and worked in a lot of cities during my adult life and Ottawa can hold its head up high with any of them. I chose to set the Inspector Armitage mystery series here not because it's a metropolis rife with crime (show me a city anywhere in the world without crime) but because I know the city well and when I need to paint a word picture of a particular area I can step out the door and take a walk to stimulate and exercise my brain as well as my body.
At one point, my wife, Martha and I had a small menagerie of one dog and two cats whose combined ages added up to more than 190, in human years. They were all foundlings and they returned our giving them a place to live, daily victuals and health care with seemingly unqualified love and loyalty over those so many years and we all lived together happily without friction or fuss. It's my belief that if people practiced the best of animal behaviour, the world would be a more humane place. However many choose instead to practice the worst. But you didn't visit this site for a lecture on the appropriate conduct to better the human condition or a screed on philosophy, so I'll say no more about that.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself. I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and grew up on a farm with three siblings, in, I suppose for that time, what would be considered a normal family with a father, mother and grandmother, who lived with us, and whose opinions and actions greatly influenced both my formative years and my later life. Our parents were gentle, wise and tolerant people who led by example and gave us the freedom to be children. It was a great life, filled with love, laughter and a generosity of spirit.
I didn't set out in life with a definitive career path and I've done a number of different things to earn a living. I started out as an electronics technician. After I'd done that for a few years I looked for other challenges. I studied literature and marketing. I worked flying airplanes. I became an executive for a Fortune 500 company. I toiled in the magazine industry as a writer, editor and publisher and then for Southam News in the newspaper business. I served in the Canadian Forces and then worked briefly as a civilian for the federal government. Looking back, all of these things have deepened the well of my life experience, to draw from as a fiction writer.
Along the way, I met a lot of terrific and interesting people, including Martha, the woman who became my wife of now more than thirty extraordinary years. Many before me have commented on the joy of finding love the second time around. I concur that it is magical. Both casualties of previous marriages, Martha and I initially found each other through a mutual interest in aviation. We then discovered we also had other interests in common, including a love of books and reading. When we married, we merged two families. Our three wonderful children, Kelly, William and Keith are now out in the world with families of their own, and give us reason to be proud every day.
Martha reads more than two hundred books a year and also writes mystery fiction. She is my Calliope, my Clio, my Erato. When I set down words on a page, she is the person I turn to first for comments. She is also my most trenchant critic and does not hesitate to stick a pin in my balloon when I get too full of myself. No writer has ever been inspired by a more fair-minded and tolerant muse.
I first knew I wanted to write fiction when I was about eleven or twelve years old. I was lying in our yard on a blanket in my bathing suit, baking in the July sun near the river where we'd been swimming, and I was reading one of my father's novels. My father was a voracious reader and collector and there were hundreds of books in our house. I don't remember which book I was reading now. It may have been one of the Bulldog Drummond adventure series or perhaps something by H. Rider Haggard, one of his favourite authors. What I do remember vividly about that hot July day was that I suddenly became aware that my mind, indeed my self, had been transported off that blanket and far off into another realm, and I marveled at the incredible power of the lines of type on those pages. I was seized at that moment by an overwhelming feeling of well being and aspiration. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to set down words that could cast such a spell and take people off into another dimension. I was instantly smitten by that sense of purpose and I've never gotten over it.
I am now at a point in my life where I can devote time to creating fiction, and that time is like a tonic for me. If something encroaches on it so I can't find a block of hours for a day or two to set down some words, I actually go through a form of withdrawal. It's an interesting phenomenon and I hope I never kick the addiction.
When I set out to write a police procedural mystery series I cut Matt Armitage out of fictional whole cloth or whole cloth fiction, however one wants to define it. Armitage is not a me wannabe in disguise, nor is he based on any single person I know, or have known. He does however embody many of the character traits that I find admirable. He is a humanist first. He is of independent mind. He is a man without artifice, often to his detriment. I was told not long ago by a very successful writer that, in fiction, no one likes a goody-goody. I remain skeptical of this but in case he was right, I want to assure readers that although Armitage is not a conventional bad-boy, he is not without his faults and failings. In fact, some of his behaviour on the job would probably be cause for dismissal from any police force in the world. That said, I would still always want him on my side in a crisis.
If there is anything you wish to know about the Inspector Armitage mystery series, or, for that matter, any of my written work, please feel free to send me an e-mail. I promise to answer every one.