Wednesday, 26 March 2014

60 Seconds with Francis Guenette

Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. 
Francis blogs over at and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello.

Which work most influenced you when growing up?

What influenced me the most was being encouraged to read widely across multiple genres and age-appropriate levels. Of course that resulted in more than few unpleasant experiences – the cover of A Night to Remember, the sinking of the Titanic, still makes me shiver. By and large, my imagination was set free and I learned early what constituted a good read – well-developed characters who manage to learn something of value by the end of the book.

Where do you write?

I used to write exclusively at the kitchen table. I loved to spread out my laptop, notes, timelines and sketches, all within easy reach. Due to household unrest about the struggle to clear a spot to eat at the table, I have recently moved to a converted office space open to the living room. I have two desks that sit kitty-corner to one another and I never have to move or clear away my stuff. It’s nice to be able to eat at the kitchen table again but, I must say, I still long for the days of writing there.

Who or what had the biggest impact on your creative life?

My mother. She set an ongoing example, early in my life, by being a woman who wrote stories and she introduced all her children to the joys of reading. I have quite wonderful memories of myself and my siblings tucked into our bunk beds while my mom sat on a chair in the middle of the room, reading. These bedtime stories spanned everything from Tarzan of the Apes, to The Jungle Book, to the short stories by Edgar Allen Poe.

How far are you influenced by other media, such as music or fine art?

I am influenced by the way music can elicit emotion. Some of the characters in my books are young adults. By listening to music that was popular when I was young, I tap into how I used to feel about love and loss and life. I also play today’s popular music so I can relate that emotion to present day realities in young people’s lives.

Do you have a phrase that you most overuse?

I drastically overuse certain words that start out phrases, especially in dialogue. Words like well, so, and just are sprinkled far too liberally into my characters’ speech. My editor has been instrumental in helping me find the balance between how I hear a character’s voice and what flows best on the written page.

Which writers do you enjoy?

Being Canadian, I am a huge fan of Canadian novelists who manage to write about this vast country in ways that makes the geographical settings come alive. Alistair MacLeod for his weep-worthy descriptions of Cape Breton, Wayne Johnston for bringing the landscape of Newfoundland to life, Jane Urquhart for her vivid portrayal of rural Ontario, Elizabeth Hay for writing the northern regions of Canada with haunting beauty, Eden Robinson for her mysterious depiction of the Pacific west coast, and Joseph Boyden for heartbreaking prose that juxtaposes wild lands with bitter realities.

Why do you write?

A story worked its way out of me and it had to be told. Once the door was open, more stories came.

What makes you laugh?

My two preschool granddaughters make me laugh on a daily basis. I find the way they approach their world to be both fascinating and endlessly hilarious.

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure?

DragonLance books – the original ones by Weiss and Hickman. I have them all and could go back and read them again and again.

Which book do you wish you’d written?

I wish I had written some of Phillipa Gregory’s books. I am in awe of authors who write historical novels. To do the research necessary to bring another era to life is quite daunting. It’s enough work to set a novel in the here and now. Gregory’s take on women’s history is highly readable and endlessly intriguing.

Which book has impressed you most this year?

Linden MacIntyre’s recent book – Why Men Lie. The book stayed with me long after I had put it away on the shelf. MacIntyre is a journalist on the award-winning CBC show, The Fifth Estate. His investigative skills serve him well as a novelist – his stories make for compelling reading.

Would you share what you’re working on next?

A book of short stories that combine my own work with stories I have edited from my mother’s vast collection of unpublished work and the third novel in the Crater Lake Series – Chasing Down the Night.

Which cocktail best represents your personality?

A lime Margarita. A little bit tangy and sharp, salty but also sweet, intoxicating if you drink too many of them and then stand up suddenly.

By JJ Marshauthor, reader, Triskelite, journalist, Nuancer, reviewer and blogger. Likes: pugs, Werner Herzog and anchovies. Dislikes: meat, chocolate and first drafts. 


  1. Feeling really grateful to see myself in the 60 second slot! Thanks so much for the opportunity.

  2. Great interview! I've read and really enjoyed both Francis's books and highly recommend them!

  3. Excellent interview by a very good author.

  4. So happy to know the Crater Lake series continues! :)