JR: Who would you call your writing heroes, the authors (fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry/lyrics) that sparked your interest in writing?
JS: Wow, this question brought back some fond reading memories, so thank you! Probably Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables, etc.) was the first to inspire the wonder of story and the desire to write when I was young. As an adult, Linda Hall’s Christian suspense showed me where my stories might fit, and Timothy Zahn’s twist endings continue to challenge me to dig deeper in my plotting. Then there are lyrical writers like Amanda Dykes, who inspire me to mine for strong word choices.
JR: Could you tell us about the Green Dory Mystery Series, and in particular the latest installment, "Bitter Truth?" (I'm pretty good at predicting if authors/musicians want to talk about their latest release.)
JS: New releases are like new babies—of course we want to talk about them! (I have a new granddaughter, too, so I’m doubly dangerous to be around these days.) Landon Smith is a 24-year-old survivor of human trafficking as a teen. After years of therapy, counselling, and prayer, she describes herself as, “I’m healed, I’m being healed, I will be healed.” This series brings her back to the seaside town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (Canada) to help a friend in need: Anna Smith, widowed owner of The Green Dory Inn.
Bitter Truth is book 3 in the series. Against all odds, Landon and her ordinary-hero neighbour Bobby Hawke survived a murderous plot six weeks ago. Now, she’s determined to leave solving mysteries to the experts. But when her friend Ciara is nearly killed in a daring daylight attack, Landon can’t sit this out. Not when she knows the anger of being a victim.
Her faith tells her to leave room for God’s vengeance. Her heart says to retaliate. The fight to expose Ciara’s enemy will uncover secrets and betrayal that could cost Landon her life.
JR: I also noticed you've written some devotionals. Would you like to share about them? Also, does your fiction inspire any of the devotionals (or vice versa)?
JS: I blogged a weekly devotional for years, many of which I eventually updated and compiled into daily devotional books: a year-long one and one for December. They came out of my daily quiet time with the Lord, and they’re conversational-style musings on Bible verses that impacted me. So while I can’t say any of them came from my fiction, and my fiction starts with a plot idea rather than theme, I’m sure the devotionals have at times influenced the spiritual threads in my fiction.
JR: With a common language, a neighboring border, shared culture - I remember the Canadian comic For Better and For Worse, and one of my favorite bands is Canadian (The Daniel Band) - and mission groups considering it a home field, I sometimes forget Canada is technically a different country. Are there benefits or frustrations being a Canadian author?
JS: When I was looking for a traditional publisher, they were all US-based. Many a Canadian author was encouraged to relocate their setting from Canada into the Northern States to make it marketable. I guess I could have done that, but there are more differences between Maine and Nova Scotia than I know. I’m sure it would have been obvious to readers. I did find a small publisher who accepted my first novel (mostly Canadian settings), but when that publisher closed and I turned to independent publishing, the first thing I did was reclaim my Canadian spelling to publish a second edition. Most Canadian authors use US spelling to keep things simpler, but it mattered to me. Chief benefit for indie Canadian authors: we get ISBNs for free. Side note: I still read For Better or For Worse in our newspaper.
JR: On your web-site, you have a tab for reviews you've done of fiction, non-fiction, and music/videos. I'd like to focus on one book in particular you've reviewed: Battle for the Soul of Canada by Ed Hird. Could you tell us a little bit about this book, and anything that people in the lower 48 could learn from?
JS: I can’t tell you as much as I’d like, because it’s been years since I read the book! But I’d say readers who are battling in prayer for the United States would find much of the content transferable. Building from 1 and 2 Timothy, Battle for the Soul of Canada emphasizes the importance of raising strong and effective Christian leaders. Rev. Ed Hird’s key point that I quoted in my review is that “the key to renewing the soul of Canada — and the heart of this book — is to be found in raising up Timothys”. That message is relevant for any nation. Ed and his wife Janice have written other books since then, and readers will find more details at edhird.com.
JR: Thank you for your time. Anything else you'd like to update us? How can we keep in touch with you?
JS: Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Jeffrey. You’ve asked some fun questions. My internet home is my website, where I post book reviews and details about my books, and I have an author page on Facebook. Readers who enjoy Christian mystery/suspense fiction are invited to sign up for my author newsletter or to follow me on BookBub for sale and new release alerts.
And speaking of new releases: Bitter Truth releases March 29, 2022. Interested readers might like to know that the ebook versions are currently discounted to $2.99USD for a preorder special, and the print books are (shh…) actually already available through Amazon. Buy links to various online stores are all collected here: books2read.com/bitter-truth.