The writing bug hit Gwen early. She started off with short stories and little plays for her friends to act out. The curriculum in Canadian schools emphasizes literature so it came as a surprise to her when she’d laugh at the funny bits in Shakespeare’s plays and nobody else could get past the archaic language to get the jokes. After that, she figured she just might have a flair for literature…or archaic languages. Hoping it was the former, she minored in English at university and upon graduation promptly landed a job as a meat cutter in a meat-processing plant. She was so short compared to the guys they had to give her a grate to stand on. To this day she can still sharpen a knife with flair and likes to show off by explaining the difference between a capon and a chicken.

When working in a refrigerated plant got to be too much (she’d step outside in the summer after an eight-hour shift and have to wait for her eyeballs to defog), she left to start work as an admin assistant. That new company had a division that published magazines and she submitted a few news stories. The first ones sold because she’s good enough with a camera to supply her own photographs. Those stories opened the doors to the magazine division and she was hired as, you guessed it, an admin assistant. The job put her in daily contact with editors, graphic designers, sales and distribution folk. She learned the business of writing…how to hunt leads, find opportunities, interview, write to length, tone and audience. Eventually, downsizing caught up with her and she, her cardboard box and severance envelope walked away from her then job as circulation manager.
During that time, she met a tall, blond, pagan love god who for heaven only knows what reasons, asked her to marry him. It’s pushing twenty-five years now and so far, so good.
Somewhere in there she also discovered romance novels. Hot men, hot sex…what’s not to love? Please don’t ask her how many historic, purple prose, rejected manuscripts are collecting dust on her shelf unless you’re prepared to dodge flying objects.
After getting the boot from the magazine industry, Gwen tried her hand at human resources. That worked out well until the economic turndown of the early twenty-first century when the parent company went bankrupt and the manufacturing facility she was working at got sold off like auto parts from a chop shop. She’s not bitter, really, because the sudden return to unemployment gave her a chance to look at her bank book and decide she could take one year off to pursue writing full time. Making a deal with herself, she said that if she made money, she could stay unemployed. If she didn’t make money, she’d go out and find a real job. So far that’s working out pretty good too and Gwen continues to work from home as a full-time writer.
She adores the quirkiness of her eighty-eight pound, rescued dog (he looks like the fruit of a forbidden love affair between a black bear and a black lab) and every now and then pounces on her husband when he steps out of the shower, proclaiming he’d sell a million books if he was her next cover model.

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Q: When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

A: The middle of the night has always been wildly inspirational for me. My muse revs up in the wee hours. Unfortunately, obligations get in the way of hedonism and since my husband’s alarm goes off at half past the crack of way too darn early, I write from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays. Weekends it’s about ten hours a day.

Q: What’s your writing space like? What’s always within reach?

A: I’ve commandeered the smallest bedroom in the house. I’ve got a U-shaped desk that fills most of the room, some book shelves and a lot of clutter. Two dictionaries (different versions and different eras), my thesaurus and a good baby-name book are always on the corner of the desk. To keep myself motivated, I frame my covers and they’re on the walls. Oh and there’s usually a squeaky ball or other dog toy rolling around the floor.

Q: Where did your most unusual plot idea come from?

A: While I was showering. I felt a tickle on my backside, like the cat had jumped into the shower with me and brushed me with her tail. I swiped my behind, twice, but the tickle wouldn’t go away. Turned out it was just a hair from my head but that gave me the idea for a sci-fi story, where the female lead’s in the shower, feels a tickle on her backside only it turns out she’s getting caught in a space-travel bubble.

Q: Plotter or Pantster? Why?

A: Plotter, always. When I made the decision to stay at home and write full time, I was putting my family’s financial future on the line. I just can’t stand sitting in front of the computer, wasting time figuring out what happens next when my husband’s working his hinny off out in the real world, keeping a roof over our heads. I tried writing by the seat of my pants once. It lasted one day before I got so frustrated I wanted to knock my head against the wall.

Q: Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.

A: I’m dull. Really dull. I spend so much time inside my head that when I finally get around real people, I’m a sponge. I’m enthralled by their ideas, interests, the sound of the human voice. Basically, I ask questions, listen, and not much else.

Q: Ever been told, “Um…sweetie, that’s not how it works?”

A: Oh yeah. My first editor, she grilled me on the choreography of one of my sex scenes. I had the hero stretched out on the bed, and the heroine crawling up from the foot of the bed. My editor kept telling me the body positions didn’t work, couldn’t work, and if I’d try it out myself, I’d know that. Well, I HAD tried it out (giggle) and it DID work. Nowadays, I realize it wasn’t the choreography, but my description that was rubbish.

Q: Any tips for aspiring writers?

A: Write. Seriously, just plunk your backside in a chair and write something. Anything’s better than that sentence you DIDN’T write down. Join a local writers’ group. (I recommend Romance Writers of America, for starters.) The fellowship’s terrific, you’ll hear about seminars and courses, you’ll pick up all sorts of cool, insider information from published members.

Q: Do you have a guilty pleasure?

A: Chocolate. But then there’s not really all that much guilt involved.

Q: What kind of books do you read for fun?

A: Steamy romances, horror, suspense…Jan Springer and Barbara Sheridan are two of my favourites. I’m a huge Stephen King fan, Patrick O’Brian too. I re-read the Harry Potter series every other year or so. I adore Pride And Prejudice but (I’m prepared to dodge flaming pitchforks here) Austen wrote from her socio-economic sphere and didn’t tell us anything about the lower or serving classes. Whenever I read one of her books, I make up side stories in my head, about the lives of the servants that she glanced over.

Q: What do you do to unwind and relax?

A: Walk the dog, hang out with my husband in the evening, work in the garden, do laundry. Yes, laundry. Life spins out of control sometimes and being able to clean and fold something that was messy and disorganized, helps center me. Jeesh, does that mean I’m going a bit psycho?

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