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Interview with Laurie Wood

Author Laurie Wood, who resides in Canada, made many contributions to her community for several years prior to pursuing a writing career. She writes romance that features courageous women and the strong men who love them, which always results in happily ever after.

Hi Laurie! Thank you for taking some time to chat with us today. You led a life quite different from that of a writer for several years. Tell us what you discovered about yourself and your relationship with God as a police officer in the mid-1980’s in Canada.
I was only the second woman to be hired by my police force. The first woman was off on permanent disability with a back injury. To say I wasn’t accepted as an equal would be an understatement. I was harassed and bullied relentlessly by my male co-workers who didn’t want me there. Two years into my career I was also badly injured in a fight with a suspect and spent three months off getting physio on my own back. I met a Christian woman at that office and her loving support and conversations helped me to open up about what I was going through. She ultimately led me to the Lord.

As far as what I discovered about myself during that time, I knew I wasn’t a quitter so I was determined not to be run out of the job I loved so much. However, I could also see God’s hand in bringing me to this city to be a police officer, and how He brought various people into my life to heal me from my past as well as point me to my future. Being a police officer was the toughest job I’ve ever done, not because of the work, but because of the harassment from my male colleagues. I had a Staff Sergeant who told me I was ten years ahead of my time. But I don’t regret any of it. What I learned about people, how to handle confrontations, how to deal with people, was of inestimable value.

You ran an overnight crisis shelter for youth. What did you learn about the young people of today from that experience?
We were opening that crisis shelter during a time when people thought a) young people should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, find a job, and get on with their lives, and b) domestic abuse on children and teens was much more hidden than it is today. It was an uphill battle to convince people that teenagers ran away because circumstances at home could be so bad they couldn’t stay there. And for teens in foster care who “aged out” and then had zero supports to find housing to stay in school, there was no bridge funding or way for them to succeed.

There were some young people who were indifferent to making their lives better. There are always going to be people like that, but the majority of the kids we helped needed the direction access the services they didn’t even know existed. So, we offered more than just a bed and a hot meal. We gave them lifeskills, got them in to see a doctor who offered to take them on, made appointments for social services, and provided a drop-in community that was a safe environment.

This prevented the vast majority of them from turning to crime to support themselves and also helped them go back to school once we could sort out their family situations with counseling or other supports. I found it extremely rewarding work.

You were awarded the Governor-General of Canada’s 125 Medal for your contribution to your community. Most Americans are not familiar with the award. Tell us about it!
You have to be nominated for any medal given by our Governor-General (who is the Queen’s representative in Canada), and I didn’t even know that our local Member of the Provincial Legislature had nominated me for the Canada 125 Medal until I got the letter from the Governor-General letting me know that I was going to get it in an award ceremony. The Canada 125 Medal was a community service medal given out during the year Canada celebrated 125 years of Confederation. And my MPP nominated me for my work with the crisis shelter because it was the only one of its kind within 200 miles of Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

It's an actual medal which I could’ve worn on my police dress uniform if I was still a police officer, or a military member. My husband surprised me that year at Christmas time by having the medal and the Certificate that came with it framed in a shadow box. It was special to get it because I drew so much on my police experience to deal with all of the parties involved with getting the shelter open, that I felt my bad experiences on the force hadn’t been in vain.

What motivated you to transition into the wonderful world of writing?
I had always wanted to be a writer and had won city-wide writing contests in school. But, like some of my teens at the shelter, I left home at 17 and had to make a living so writing took a back seat for years. And I also didn’t feel I had anything to say or write about, although I was a voracious reader of several genres.

When we had our two children, they both had special needs and by the time my daughter was turning three my child care was becoming difficult to find. I decided to stay home full-time and that’s when writing became more of a focus because I was used to being on the go and multi-tasking at a high level with the shelter. So, I wrote a 110,000 word historical right off the bat – it’s not publishable unless I rewrite it! – but it got me hooked on writing and showed me that at this point in my life maybe I did have something to say and had some stories in me.

Tell us what genre you write in and why.
I started out writing medieval because I love that time period and I read a lot of them. I loved time travel books as well. This was back in the 1990s when my kids were small.

I also wrote two romantic suspense novels which nearly got published and they were based on female police characters. Then the publishing opportunities fell through so I put those books on the back burner. My husband had a mid-life crisis (I say that with love!) and joined the military at the age of 40, so once we started moving around, I stayed active in my RWA writing chapters but my actual writing fell between the cracks.

Now I’m published in romantic suspense because those were the books that were contracted. I’m also writing historical romances but so far haven’t sold them. I love both genres and hope to continue with both, and perhaps do some time-slip stories as well.

What is the setting of your books?
My Heroes of the Tundra series is set in the real town of Churchill, Manitoba which is called the “Polar Bear Capital of the World”. There’s Northern Deception, Northern Hearts,and this newest book is Northern Protector. Churchill sits on the border of the Canadian arctic, on the south shore of Hudson Bay, and about one thousand kilometers north of Winnipeg.

It’s got northern lights for about 320 nights of the year, and the sun doesn’t go down till 11 pm in the summer time. It also doesn’t rise till about 10:30 a.m. in the winter time. The polar bears migration route goes right through the town, so for about five to six months of the year the local people have to be extremely careful to avoid meeting up with one or more of them. There’s a twelve-foot chain link fence around the only school, for instance.

It’s illegal in Churchill to lock your vehicle doors at any time of the year because a bear could appear at any time, even in the “off” season. People leave their keys in their snowmobiles for quick getaways. It’s a totally different way of life but there hasn’t been a bear attack up there since November 2013 and both people were badly mauled, but they did survive.

What is the main message you hope to convey to readers?
My stories always seem to have second chances as their theme. Even the unpublished ones! So I hope I’m conveying the hope that there’s always a second chance in life, or a chance for redemption, if we look for it. We need to learn from our mistakes, realize what we did wrong and work towards healing those relationships. We need to recognize our need for God in our lives. And we can ask for help, and there’s no shame in it. God works through His people and that’s how He’ll heal us. I have first-hand experience of that so I want to let my readers know that it’s true and it can happen.

What does your writing schedule look like?
With my husband and adult children all at home right now, it’s a bit sporadic. I’ve never been able to consistently pound out 3000 words a day so some days are light and some days are heavier than others. I’m an outliner so I know what I’m shooting for and I just try and get as much done as I can.

What is the highest point you have experienced in your writing career to date?
Coming Third in the Novella category this year for the Faith, Hope & Love Readers Choice Award for my second book, Northern Hearts. That was a real thrill. And finishing Northern Protector on deadline this year in the middle of the pandemic lockdown.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
Right now I’m reading Snowbound in Winterberry Falls, a lovely debut by Ann Broduer. Next up is The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark.

Parting advice for novice authors?
Take as many writing classes online as you can afford. I highly recommend Margie Lawson’s Novel Academy for excellent, all-round writing craft courses. They’re expensive but worth it. You can never stop learning so I still take classes, but from judging contests I can always tell the difference between novice authors who’ve studied craft from those who’re just writing what comes into their head.

We’re not born knowing how to put a great story together. Writing can be learned and practiced, so that’s my advice – take classes and write and write and write to practice. Then you’ll “find your voice” and the rest will fall into place.


Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview style blog talk radio show, where she promotes those who share God’s love through writing and other ministry outlets. She hosts writers, published and unpublished, on her two blogs, The Over 50 Writer and Patti’s Porch on her website at Patti is published in two anthologies and local publications and has three western novels in progress. When not writing or reading, she is doing volunteer work for her church or attending her only granddaughter’s sports activities. Patti lives in Colorado with her devoted feline companion, Duncan.

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