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Self-portrait Space Cadet, "writer for hire", Author

Bio of a space cadet

I started writing when I was eleven or twelve. My first story was about nuclear Armageddon.

Though it wasn't a school assignment, I showed it to my teacher. My mother recieved a note the next day. The story was only slightly less disturbing than the time when, in Grade 5, I told my teacher I was going to see the obstetrician. "Optician," my mother assured him. In any case, I was hooked on writing. If I wasn't writing stories, I was making them up in my head or roleplaying them in my room. Often lost in other worlds, I soon gained the reputation of being the family space cadet.

I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen when I was supposed to be taking notes in class. I lost my manuscript in the second floor women's washroom in the Quad, at Ryerson. (If anyone finds it, please return.) My next work was a short story that would lead to a series of books - or so I envisioned. It was rejected by Isaac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine and Analog. I foolishly gave up trying to get published and gave away my copy of I Robot. I kept writing, but I didn't want to risk rejection again - one of my few regrets in life.

Despite continuing to write stories in the margins of my class notes (or sometimes the other way round) I managed to graduate with an Honours BA in History and Philosophy from the University of Guelph. If I could have afforded post-graduate studies, I might have become a Philosophy professor. Instead, I got a job managing a comic store.

Writing for business started at Collage Card and Comics. I designed ads, wrote and edited newsletter material. The turning point in my career came when I was between jobs and I was asked "What do you write?" At the time, I was wrestling with a couple of stories but I answered, "What do you want written?"

"alison bruce... writer for hire" was born.

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laptop

"writer for hire"

In 1999, having established myself as a copy writer, editor and entrepreneur - not to mention the mother of an active toddler - things fell apart. In one month, my mother was diagnosed with aggressive small-cell lung cance, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and they found a malignant tumor on one of my father's kidneys.

For a while I was busier than ever, taking care of my sister Joanne's business while she took care of her health. This included learning new skills like graphic design and layout. It gave me little time to think about what was happening. My mother died on my sister's birthday. Eight months later, my son was born, my c-section incision fell apart and shortly after that, so did my marriage. I was only just recovering from all that when my sister started to get sick.

Taking care of your family is good for the soul but bad for business. Despite midnight runs to the ER and caregiving four children as well as my sister and father, I managed to meet deadlines and keep my clients happy, but I had little time to seek new business and worse, I had little time to write stories.

Joanne changed that. When I had an idea for a fantasy novel, she organized her care so I'd have a couple of hours a day to write. Then we'd go over it and edit as I read aloud to her.

My sister was forty-two when she died of cancer. Almost to the end she was working at her own business, BelleFare Communication Services, and editing my novel. She made me realize that life's to short not to do what you love.

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Alison Bruce, Author

When Joanne died, I got serious about trying to get published. While I was waiting for rejections, I completed five other novels in three different series. Ironically, my first published novel was neither the one I wrote with Joey nor any of the later ones. It was a story I started fifteen years earlier as a distraction from post-operative pain and my roommates in hospital. The manuscript went through a series of adventures, going from handwritten pages to published novel, which I tell in The Trail to Under A Texas Star.

The characters in Deadly Legacy came to me in a dream, as two of my other novels did. For years they were characters without a plot. They did have a fully realized near-future world, however. The problem was, it was too near-future. Technology kept catching up with me. (I am proud to day I anticipated the Smart Phone by almost a decade.)

When my mother died, I learned things about her that I never realized when she was alive. You're much more open with your sister than your daughters and my aunt was more open with me when mum was gone. The result was an idea for a murder that my mother might have plotted.

I kept submitting both novels, but it was networking and a touch of luck that brought me to Imajin Books. Networking with Crime Writers of Canada members introduced me to Cheryl Kaye Tardif. Luck put me in the right place when she was starting Imajin. I applied for an editing job and became a published author instead. I asked Cheryl whether she wanted my historical western romance or my sf-ish detective mystery. She picked the former and Under A Texas Star became the first Imajin book.

Through Cheryl and Imajin, I met Kat Flannery, another western historical romance writer. Together we wrote the twin novellas under the title Hazardous Unions. Through an advertising contact from Cheryl, I met Joanna D'Angelo, who was also the acquisition editor at Lachesis Publishing. She wondered if I had a book available and I had a romantic suspense, A Bodyguard to Remember.

If you're keeping track, none of those books is in exactly the same genre. I write the kind of books I like to read. Since my tastes are eclectic and tend to cross genre boundaries, my novels do too. My readers have pointed out a few common threads to my work. There is almost always a mystery and a romance in my stories - whatever else is in the mix. My heroes aren't perfect, but they are persistent and they have the ability adapt (sooner or later) to new situations and to learn from adversity - as I did.

They also drink coffee.

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