Anna’s Secret is the story about a murder in Lyndale, Prince Edward Island, that took place in the mid-nineteenth century. Her name was Anne and the hollow where the murder took place is called Anne Beaton’s Hollow to this day. The real story is that an ancestor of my own was the one who did her in with a turnip hoe. He was acquitted and subsequently left the Island. My uncle who told me the story said they ultimately decided that it was a woman who did the deed, and that it was crime of passion. Anne was, as they used to say, “no better than she should be” and was said to have been having an affair with the woman’s husband. I took the fact of her murder and fictionalized it. I examined Anna’s relationship with her own husband, son, neighbours and friends and the impact it had on the whole community. The ending that I created is pretty much unexpected and for reasons that no one in the fictional community guessed.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
I read, write letters, visit family, sing in the church choir. We just earned silver in the provincial District Music Festival. I frequently talk on the phone to my friends who are far away whom I don’t get to see very often. I watch TV but but only shows where the characters have good relations with one another. I especially like British mysteries and dramas. Right now I’m watching Call the Midwife, Father Brown, and The Cafe. I have seen all the Sherlock Holmes episodes.
Do you have any tips on how writers can relax?
Meditation, Reiki, the sort of thing that feeds the spirit and the imagination. If you don’t feed your imagination by reading and listening to others tell their story, you are in danger of running dry. Meditation allows stories to percolate through your mind and transform themselves into something you can write about as your own. It’s not right or kind to write what you hear verbatim. People are sensitive and rightly so. Besides, I think it may be considered theft of intellectual property should anyone care to pursue it. The whole idea of meditation and Reiki is to relax and let go, and what’s more comforting and uplifting than a good book?
How often do you write? And when do you write?
Every day, usually in the morning. I find I’m more productive in the morning. I’ve trained people not to call me in the morning just to chat. If I write in the afternoon I figure it’s my own fault if I get interrupted. I write poetry pretty much whenever I’m inspired. My clip board is never far away. I have to be in poetry mode. It’s quite a different process from writing prose.
Have you met any people in the industry who have really helped you?
Not in the industry. A few peripheral to it, booksellers, librarians etc. I really haven’t had any contact with anyone in the industry; my contacts tend to be in academia where I get lots of encouragement for the writing itself but they’re in the same boat as I am, trying to get published.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?
I think I’d like them to realize the importance of community and friends no matter how much they may annoy, e.g. Hector and Duncan, characters in Anna’s Secret. Society is so fragmented today we’ve lost that sense of belonging somewhere. I want readers to enjoy the stories enough to want to read more. I want my novels to be an escape into other times. I think of Anna, and how she isn’t what people thought she was, and how important it is to be patient and discerning about people. In other words, don’t jump to conclusions about people too quickly; there may be deeper reasons for their behaviours.
What’s your favourite meal?
I love beef stew made with fresh organic Prince Edward Island beef with organic carrots, potatoes, onions and maybe a little celery. All in a lovely smooth gravy thickened with corn starch. Organic makes such a difference, even just in taste. Fish is also a favourite. We get fresh cod right off the boat and serve it fried with bacon and onions and new potatoes and vegetables.
What colour represents your personality the most?
I think I gravitate to the blues especially to royal blue. I find blues of any shade very serene and I tend to be fairly serene and accepting. Look at my book jacket picture to see the effect of royal blue. I also wear pinks well and now that my hair has turned silver I can wear cherry reds and black to advantage. My hair used to be dark brown with red highlights but I went white at a very young age. Of course, my complexion is so pale it needs a little judicious help from Revlon. Less is more these days.
How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?
I am just getting used to being so public and am still uneasy about saying certain things to my new best friends and all their friends and acquaintances. However, I do see the value of being more available to the public in this way, even just for the feeling of connectedness no matter how tenuous. Of course, the advertising possibilities play a role too. I have always been a private person who kept my business to myself so it’s difficult.
Anna Gillis, the midwife and neighbour in Mattie’s Story, has been found killed. The close-knit community is deeply shaken by this eruption of violence, and neighbours come together to help one another and to discover the perpetrator. But the answer lies Anna’s secret, long guarded by Old Annie, the last of the original Selkirk Settlers, and the protagonist of An Irregular Marriage. Join the community! Read Anna’s Secret and other novels by Margaret A. Westlie.
Genre – Fiction, mystery, historical
Rating – G
More details about the author