Joan Havelange might live in Russell, MB. but her new book takes place in a Saskatchewan small town.
“I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, in the little town of Corning, Saskatchewan. Then married, moved to Windthorst before moving up to Northern Manitoba for 22 years,” related Havelange, adding “I now live in Russell Manitoba, but still a Rider fan, once a Rider fan always a Rider fan.”
The new book Havelange’s first is titled ‘Wayward Shot’ a mystery that came about after the budding author watched a classic mystery tale.
“I watched an Agatha Christie movie and thought what if the protagonist wasn’t as genteel as Miss Marple, and had an attitude. I like comedy with my mystery,” she said.
Havelange noted she has no formal training in terms of writing, having worked for a mining company in Lynn Lake Manitoba, and in the banking industry.
“I dabbled writing Romance books, but I’m not romantic enough,” she related, adding she has learned “murder and mystery is my interest.”
But why take on writing a book in the first place?
“I like puzzles,” she said. “I think people want to try and solve the mystery right along with the characters, and if they can get there before the characters do, they are happy, and if they don’t guess right then, I think they are still pleased.”
And that was Havelange’s challenge, one she said she seems to have hit.
“The publishing editor did tell me she didn’t know ‘whodunnit’ until the last chapter, so I did my job, which made happy,” she said.
The writing process for Havelange was one of developing the story on the go.
“It’s all about what if. For instance, in Wayward Shot two ladies are golfing one golf shot flies over a stone fence into a graveyard. It lands in the middle of a dead man’s forehead and he’s not six feet under,” she related.
From there the story flowed.
“Yes it is easy, and it isn’t, you have to set aside so many hours each day,” she said, adding as an author she needed to stay on task. “It’s a job, a wonderful job, but you need have dedication to your craft.”
That also means bookwork related to writing a book.
“You need a log of all your characters, how they look, their mannerisms,” said Havelange. “You will not remember if she has blue eyes, trust me.
“And a background story for them, you may not use it in the book. But it builds the character.”
From there Havelange said she needed a path to follow.
“You have to have an outline of how the story is going to proceed, chapter by chapter,” she said. “There are many drafts the first one is you telling yourself the story.
“Then you get to work. There are at least 10 drafts. Then you send it to Beta readers, who check for plot holes etc.
“And then more editing.”
So what was the most challenging aspect of the project?
“For me it was proper punctuation. A comma is a very important tool, which I am prone to use too much,” said Havelange.
In the end the book has what Havelange was hoping for as she suggested the combination of mystery and comedy is the best aspect of ‘Watward Shot’.
“It takes the ideas of who seniors are, and spins it,” she said, adding the charm of a small town and its eccentric characters shine through.
And there is more to come from the fledgling author.
“I have traveled a great deal, the next one is set in Egypt,” she said, adding the next book is at the beta reader stage. “I’m working on another now. Working title is The Trouble with Funerals.”
The book is available through Coles as well as on Amazon, Kindle, and Kobo.