Raised in an Air Force family, Raina lived in such diverse places as Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Gander, Newfoundland, before leaving the nest and settling down near Ottawa, Ontario.

Some skepticism about the earning value of an English degree made Raina turn to a career in journalism. While almost two decades in newspapers in Canada's capital has made her revise that opinion, there's still no thrill quite like getting the paper to press on a heavy news day with an early deadline.

At home, when not riding herd on her four children -- two girls and two boys -- or trying to squeeze in some writing time, Raina can most often be found reading the work of her favorite authors, new and old.

Raina is a great believer in happy endings, as anyone who reads her work will attest. After all, what's the point of writing fiction if you can't put a little joy in people's lives?

URL: www.rainajames.com

Q: What comment most appeared on your report cards?

A: "Raina is a quiet child who gets along well with others and always tries her best at any given task. She is the sort of child who is a joy to have in the classroom." (Mwuahaha little did they know what I'd become!)

Q: When you were a kid, what did you most want to be when you grew up?

A: Until I was 13, I most wanted to be a nurse, like my favorite aunt. She was young, fun and beautiful. Then my best friend's mother, who was taking women's courses at university, said, "A nurse? Why be stereotyped? You could be a doctor!" Um, yeah. My grades didn't agree.

Q: And has it all been downhill since then?

A: Well, you see, by the time I reached junior high I was smokin' in anything having to do with reading and writing. However, not being a huge fan of kids, I couldn't see myself having the patience to teach. (Oh, to go back and kick myself in the butt!) And so, I wondered, what else could I do as a paycheck-earning profession that involved reading and writing. Journalism! Of course! It's amusing at least, I'm sure I'll laugh someday how simple it all seems when you're 17.

Q: If you had to start a different career now, what would you like to try?

A: Astronaut. All the way. I am all about la rve d'etoiles ("the dream of stars," from one of the Star Trek novels, although it is very possible the reference comes from loftier beginnings). Of course, I'd have to regress about 20 years and get a couple of doctorates, not to mention lose that nasty habit I have of puking on the merry-go-round at the fair. Can you imagine me on the fabled Vomit Comet? I'd critically dehydrate in 10 nanoseconds!

Q: What was on your bedroom walls when you were a kid?

A: I'm a bit embarrassed to say posters ripped out of Tiger Beat, 16 Magazine, that kind of thing. They were mostly C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders, Secret Admirer, Grandview U.S.A., Red Dawn) and Ralph Macchio (The Outsiders, Karate Kid, My Cousin Vinny), mainly because he had the same birthday as me, but a different year. I mean, I'm talking wallpapered.

Q: What were your favorite books to read when you were a youngster?

A: Basil of Baker Street, written by Eve Titus and illustrated by Paul Galdone. It's a series about a mouse detective and his doctor friend who live in a mouse community, Holmestead, in the basement of Sherlock Holmes' house. From there, I went to the usual dog (White Fang, Call of the Wild) and pony (The Black Stallion) books that appeal to pre-teen girls before finally graduating to the Sweet Dreams series of romances aimed at teens.

Q: What was your first tattoo? What was the story surrounding getting it?

A: Uh, can I say the first tattoo I'd like to have? I'd want it to be a very cool dragon, maybe on my shoulder blade, and be inked in purples, greens and sapphire blue. Not a Chinese-style dragon, something along the lines of Anne McCaffrey's dragons from Pern, or Naomi Novik's Temeraire.

Q: If you were to live inside one novel for a year, which would you choose and why?

A: That is tough, because I'd have to pick just one. Okay, I'll say Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone. I love the idea that we live in a world of magic, we just have to know where to look for it.

Q: If you could be one fictional character for a day, who would it be and why?

A: Easy Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. I'd get to eat junk all day, live in my own apartment with wacky neighbours, mooch off my parents and yuk it up with Lula and Sally Sweet. Plus, I'd have two gorgeous bad boys Morelli and Ranger vying for my affections and willing to do naughty things to my person to win them. *sigh* If only ...

Q: If you could go to dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you choose, and why?

A: Denzel Washington, Shakespeare and Pope John Paul II. Denzel because I think he is a brilliant actor who seems to have escaped the coils of Hollywood to have whatever passes for a "normal" family life away from his job. Shakespeare because, well, he's Shakespeare. He has shaped so much of our modern idioms and the way we see the theatre, not to mention the world around us, that nothing would be the same if he had never existed. What was this incredibly prolific artist really like? And lastly, John Paul. I'm not Catholic, but I would be very interested in meeting someone who was arguably one of the most powerful leaders, period, in the world (that holds true for any Pope). Plus, John Paul just seemed so serene and unflappable, unshakable in his faith and his simple caring.

Q: If you could have 100 pounds of anything, what would you choose?

A: Earl Grey tea I think 100 pounds might just last me a year. Okay, that's just silly. Two years.

Q: What makes you squirm?

A: Snakes and spiders. It's predictable, I know, but true. I never used to mind them. Then one day I was sitting on the couch reading and a spider crawled by on the wall near my head. I gave a girly scream and jumped up. Same thing with snakes. I can look at them behind glass, but if a keeper brings it out or my children excitedly bring a three-inch garter snake into the house to show me ... Eeksville. I'm pretty good at pretending I don't care I don't want to give my kids a complex or something but inside I'm running away very, very fast.

Q: What do you wish you had more time to do?

A: Cook dinner. It's not that I enjoy cooking so much, but I wish I had the kind of job and time that would let me make my children a fabulous meal incorporating all the major food groups in a healthy, yet delicious, way every night. Unfortunately, we do way too many pre-packaged and quick-and-easy meals, and usually my eldest daughter has to make them because I work nights at a newspaper. I always feel guilty that I'm not supermom, who can work outside the home, develop my writing career and make my little darlings fresh cookies and roast chicken whenever they want.

Q: And lastly, what have you never done that you'd like to try?

A: Take sword-fighting lessons. Not fencing. I'm talking broadswords. And while I'm at it, I'd like to go to Renaissance fairs and wear cool costumes and commission someone to make me beautiful weapons and jewelry.  


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