Wednesday, 9 January 2013

My Yarn with Peggy Williams

When I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning, the sky was bright and blue, but it was frigid and the wind was high, so Terrance, Frank, Jack, Gerard and me decided the weather was not right for fishing, and spend part of the day in my shed tiding up from yesterday's escapade with Shannon McRoberts.

My mates are hosting fresh bruises  from the throttling I gave them last night after making my first guest feel noticeably uncomfortable.

They promised to behave when Peggy Williams arrives.

I have a sneaky suspicion that is not going to happen!

To stay out of my way, and to not to risk offending Peggy, they agreed not to drink any alcohol and busy themselves with cleaning up the shed.

As I restocking the fridge with a fresh variety of beverages(because writers are a finicky bunch when it comes to all aspects of their life…) I hear a hardy knock on the door.

I open it wide and find Peggy standing prepared for the cold in a thick parka and winter boots, with a pair of stylish sunglasses perched on top of her head.

I greet her warmly.

"Welcome, Peggy Williams, have a seat, sorry that it is not more comfy, but a poor fishing season has forced me to reduce my furniture  to two milk crates, but I have plenty of refreshments, care to have one? "

"I'm a wine drinker. Cabernet, chardonnay, none of that f#&%ing merlot. Oh? All you have is f#&%ing merlot? That's fine. I'll have one."  

I hear her cursing underneath her breath as I reach for the merlot, and pour it in a recyclable mug, handing it to her.
Hey, I may not be fancy here in the shed of solicitation, but I do my best  to be environmentally friendly!

"Thank you for coming, Peggy! Though I have known you for years, this yahoos are unfamiliar with you, share a little about yourself."

"The short version is that I am a Yooper by birth and a Cheesehead by choice. Go ahead, you can google both of those; you'll learn a little ethnogeography of the U.S.'s Midwest if you do. But I think the reason I am here with you today on the wharf is that I am also a writer. I have done a good bit of freelance writing: video script writing, magazine feature articles, web content, and now my own blogs. I am also a screenwriter, though I've yet get any of my feature screenplays produced. I've made money on them, but that's through the option process. And now I am a novelist. A mystery writer, to be specific."

" I have seen On the Road to Death's Door on Amazon and I would love to pick it up, but before I do, could you tell me a little about it?"

"On the Road to Death's Door is a murder mystery written by myself and my sister-in-law, Mary Joy Johnson (under the penname M.J. Williams). Our sleuths are a retired couple who inherit a used RV and decide to traverse the country. They don't get very far from their home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula before the first body falls, literally, from the top of their motorhome. Before they solve the mystery a politician, an industrial tycoon, and a bishop are all implicated. "

" On the Road to Death's Door  sounds intriguing! Is there a particular part of the story that you really enjoyed writing?"

"I had fun creating the oral legends that surround the state park they end up in. We named it Moose's Leap, so you can see there's fodder for a ripe imagination. I also enjoyed writing the climax scenes. I'm a screenwriter by training, so those scenes where the bad guys and the good guys confront each other, and the ones leading up to the climax, are very visual and action oriented."

I was enjoying my conversation with my friend, thinking that for once the boys would keep their promise and not interrupt us, but that was too much to hope for as Jack once again, out of the blue asks Peggy,

"Hey dude, tell us who your favourite characters are!"

"There's a local fisherman who helps one of our hero's change a flat tire. He's a hoot. But as for the regulars it's a toss-up between Emily, the retired small town cop, or Stan, the retired history professor. They both have their strengths and quirks. It's fun, as a writer, playing one off the other."

A cheer rises up from the nuisances in the back as they chant "Fishermen, fishermen, fishermen rule!"

I whip around and stare them down. "Okay, enough, shut up!" 

They stop and I return my attentions to Peggy who is smirking; I roll my eyes and continue.

"Sorry about that, but Jack's question brought  another question to light, if  On the Road to Death's Door were to be optioned for a movie, who do you see playing your main characters ?"

"That is a good question. There are sooo many good actresses in their fifties and sixties. But if I had to pick one I'd have to say Reba McEntire. She'd be perfect for Emily! As for Stan--wow, I looked up actors in that age range and am amazed at how old many of my favorites have gotten. And they are still so luscious! But…in my mind, Beau Bridges is Stan."   

"They will be perfect, Peggy!  I could really see Reba and Beau Bridges  playing  Emily and Stan!  I was wondering, as a person who writes on the side, during my down time, my writing process starts with forming the story in my head before I put pen to paper, what is your writing process like?"

"Because there are two of us and we work as a team, the process begins with us sitting around drinking, chatting, brainstorming. We started with the scenario of the RV, and then the characters. After that it was location, and location continues to drive our story choices for future books--because our characters drive an RV!  After the brainstorming stage, we outline together in some detail, then each take a chapter and begin writing. "

Terrance, all sober for a change, struts on over and somehow has found a glass of cabernet, gently takes the merlot out of Peggy's hands and asks her a cynical question.

"All of this sounds fascinating but I heard writing is a hell of a lot of work, why do you do it, what do you get out of it?"

"I've always written. Even as a kid. I started out with a group of kids writing the next new Beatles movie (oops! I think I just dated myself). So to me, writing has never been a chore. Work yes, but difficult, no. I write because I can. I can't sing. I can't act. I can't dance. I can write. And I'm a bit of a pragmatist about it…if I can make money doing it, I will."   

I am embarrassed by Terrance boldness, but Peggy seems relieved in her change in drink.

"Thanks for the brazen segue,  Terrance, now go over with the rest of the b'ys and let me and Peggy have our yarn. Terrance asked you why you like to write, now I want to ask you, is there anything about writing you don't like?"

"It's not that I don't like it, but fiction writing is very much a challenge for me. I do a lot of non-fiction freelance writing with the video scripts, magazine articles, and blogs. But writing a novel is an entirely different craft. You have to invent stuff!  You have to create people out of thin air. And give them lives. It's sort of like being God. I admire novelists more now that I'm doing it than I ever have before. And God more, too, come to think of it."

"I hear what you are saying Peggy, I love to write, but my work keeps me busy until the winter months when I get the most of my writing completed, I envy you being able to take your passion and make it a full time career."

I sigh, and take another long drink of my water, pausing for a moment as another question pops into my mind.

"When you write, what is it that you hope your readers take away from your story?"

"Enjoyment. Pure and simple. But if they get transported into a different place or time from where they usually spend their life, that's a plus. That's what I love in the best of the novels I read--to be transported into a time, place, or character's life or inner thoughts that create a new experience for me."

"Do you have any other stories you are currently writing or are planning to write?"

"With Mary Joy we are in the revision stage of On the Road to 
Where the Bells Toll. It takes Emily and Stan to Boston. And we're in the planning stages of two more books in the series beyond that. On my own, I have a completed novel for children, The Dragon's Key, that I'm getting ready to publish, and a couple of other things in the works". 

"Amazing Peggy, I seriously do not know how you find the time for all the projects that you are juggling, you are a super woman!  Thanks a million for answering all my questions…and the others, Peggy, it has been a real pleasure. As I said before, I have seen On the Road to Death's Door online at Amazon  is there anywhere else your book is available and what formats?"

"On the Road to Death's Door is available in print form from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  And it's available in ebook format from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and all the venues Smashwords feeds like the Apple iBook Store, Kobos, and others. "

"You must be frozen solid by now Peggy, my mates have been pretty greedy with the heat, so I am going to let you go so you can toddle on home and warm up, but before you go is there anything else you want to add?"

"Well, as a Yooper/Cheesehead, I'm pretty used to the cold. So that's not an issue. But I'd like to let people know about my blog, Musings of a MadCityWriter. It's billed as a reflection on books, American culture, and life in general. I've gotten some good buzz on a few of my posts, like the one about bellydancing being a celebration of womanhood and the tribute to the veterans hospital that gave my 95 year old father (a WWII vet/ex-POW) a new hip. The one that amazed me was how many hits I got on my reflection on Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Men Don't know if it hit a chord, or maybe it's suddenly showing up in thousands of high school AP essay assignments. But I'm pretty proud of the blog overall, and I think your readers will find things they enjoy there as well. They can find at
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to chat. It's always fun getting to know other writers and their blogs. Hope this one's a big success for you!"

I blush fiercely at her very kind and genuine words. "Thank you so much Peggy for your kind wishes, and I wish the same for you, and of course pass along my good wishes to your sister in law, Mary Joy. Maybe next time you can take her along with you, when I have more than a milk crate to sit on!"

I walk her to her vehicle and after a quick handshake and more best wishes, I watch her drive away before going down to the boat and wait my next guest.





  1. I am loving your series of interviews!

  2. thank you, Shannon! I am going to put yours on FB and tweeter again. Would you like the photos of your books included on your interview? Something I shamefully forgot to ask you!

  3. Tina, THANK YOU! for letting me visit with you on the Wharf! What a fun way to interview people. And I'm enjoying getting to know all the others writers who "stop by" to chat with you. This is an amazing blog. -Peggy


About Me site