Author Mary Lawson lives in Kingston Upon Thames with her husband and children but it was her early life in Canada that inspired the characters and settings in her books; Crow Lake, The Other Side Of The Bridge and Road Ends.
“Is that the one with the snow?” A person once said when they asked where her accent comes from, a story that makes her laugh and the audience along with her.
Reading from Road Ends at Waterstone’s book store in Kingston, her voice has an unmistakable Canadian burr which makes the plot, dialogue and humor come alive.
She talked of the inspiration behind her characters:
“I relate to Kate in Crow Lake,” she said. “I feel I know Kate.”
“Arthur Dunn in The Other Side Of The Bridge is a big solid serious man. I’ve never met someone like him but I can imagine him there.”
A member of the audience points out that her writing centres on dysfunctional isolated families. She pauses to consider the situations she places her characters in:
“There are no ‘authorities’ in the community that I grew up in,” she said, “to save the Pye family in Crow Lake.”
The character of Edward in Road Ends was, “very hard to write, he is not a sympathetic character but I wanted people to understand and forgive,” she said.
“Characters evolve. I don’t necessarily know they are going to be like that.”
Of the difficulty imaginging an unsympathetic character like Edward.
“The character is not me and it’s not making decisions that I would necessarily make.”
She published Crow Lake when she was in her 50s. What does she say of the journey to becoming a published writer.
“It was pure chance,” she said. “There is a ridiculous amount of luck in this business.”
“I’d worked all the way through the Artists and Writer’s Yearbook, there are a lot of pages. I started at the top – I knew I was going to get rejections – I worked my way down.”
“Top agencies expect exclusivity. They will only read if you can guarantee you have not sent it to other agencies. They’ll keep you holding on for 9 months. There’s no cultural shift in this industry.
“I went to an agents office and it was this deep in manuscripts,” she gestures to eye height, “then you think they’ve lost it at the bottom of a pile. “
“Be patient, think no news is good news. I was on a creative writing course and there were other writers that were good, really good, but they just didn’t get published.”
“Do you have the persistence and do you have the luck,” she added.
“To do this is a gift,” she said, talking of how writing her books enriches her life and we’d agree.
Mary Lawson was personable, postive and engaging, an inspiration for both writer and reader alike.
© Carrie Henderson 2015