It’s an exciting time for the Scribbler. Not having just one, but two accomplished authors as our guests this week. Both authors have been featured previously on the Scribbler.
If you missed the earlier interviews and bios, where Jane talks about the diversity of Writing and the diversity of Publishing Business and the diversity of Themes, please go HERE.
What sparked this week’s post was a note from Roger regarding a review he did on Jane’s novel – Niche. Poetry & Drawings. After a friendly discussion, I hoped for a joint interview and both are kind enough to agree.
***Special Note: Today, at Westminster Books in Fredericton, Jane is launching her latest Kay Eliot Mystery - Land Between the Furrows. 2-5 PM. (See Below)
Let’s chat with Roger and Jane.
Allan: The first question is for you, Roger. Tell us about your review of Jane’s book. Visitors can read the review HERE.
Roger: Jane and I have worked closely together for some time now ad we enjoy sharing our writing. Jane asked me if I would be willing to read her book, Niche, and to write an introduction to it. I did so, most willingly. When the book was published, Jane brought me a copy and I was honored to find my name on the front cover. I was very happy to review it, but, in all honesty, it was an easy task, because I merely copied the Introduction and used it for my review. I believe such duplicated work is what my grandfather, a hard-working man from the old school, called ‘a lazy man’s load’.
Allan: I’ve had the pleasure of reading your poetry, Jane. What was the inspiration for Niche? And please tell us about the drawings.
Jane: The idea of ‘niche’ came from many places. First, I am a biologist and a botanist, so many of my poems over the years have been about plants and animals and their homes. Second, in 2011, when I was searching for a theme to describe my blog (www.nichepoetryandprose.com now www.janetims.com ), I thought the idea of ‘place’ would resonate with many readers. Third, ‘place’ is a favorite concept in my writing. It is impossible to write about plants and animals without mentioning their habitats, the ‘niche’ where they fit and thrive. And I think a measure of human happiness has to do with how comfortable people feel in the ‘place’ or ‘niche’ where they live.
|Photo by Jane Tims.|
The drawings are an extension of my feelings about plants and animals. I love to draw, and most often it is my hand that does the drawings. I just watch. I have no real training and the eraser and Q-tip are as important to the execution of my drawings as the pencil! I once had a well-known artist say that my drawings and my poems left her with very similar feelings. I want the drawings to resonate with the poetry.
|Drawing by Jane Tims. Copyrighted.|
Allan: Jane, can you share a little about where you live, your family and being a botanist.
Jane: I am lucky to live in a rural environment with woodland all around. This week I have wakened to the song of the winter wren (I call him the ‘scribble bird’ because of his impossible-to-follow song), the eastern phoebe and the nuthatch. Our property has lots of diversity: a cedar swale, old-field, a gully, spruce forest and mixed wood where we built our house. My husband shares my love of the woods and I raised my son to appreciate nature in all its variety. I think it is interesting that if you look at a satellite photo of our neighbourhood, we do not show up at all; other properties have a house, lawn and a few trees. If you look very closely at the heavily wooded spot where we live, you can just glimpse the roof of the house. This place, where we have lived for 41 years, is a perfect space for a botanist to live.
Allan: What’s in the future for Jane Tims, the author? The artist? The botanist?
Jane: I am retired now from my work as an environmental planner. In 2012, I started writing, words that had rattled around in my head for years. Since 2012 I have published five poetry books, including two with Chapel Street Editions in Woodstock, three volumes in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series and nine books in my science fiction series Meniscus. From now on, I will write and draw until I can’t. I am happiest when I am doing that first draft. But I also like the social life of the writer and I belong to two active writing groups (Wolf Tree Writers and Fictional Friends). My writing gives me a chance to express myself as an artist since I illustrate all my books and create the art for the covers. Being a botanist has always suggested themes for my writing and it will continue to do this; last year, with the support of artsnb, I explored abandoned communities in New Brunswick to see what happens to the gardens that are left behind and wrote a new manuscript of poetry called ‘escapes.’
Before we carry on the interview, can you please share an excerpt, Jane?
An Excerpt from Niche.
(Copyright held by the author. Used with permission)
I need to see more of these woods
more than the trail winding between the trees
I must narrow my perspective
slow my walk
search for texture
in the trampling of the mosses
and the duff thrown by pounding feet
find philosophy in sunshine filters
slantwise between the trees
the halo of pollen and dust
in the spotlight, forgiveness
in the rain, gathers a full hour
in the high branches
before it weeps
find hope in the stolid
bracket fungi climbing the trees
life in oak galls
and witch’s brooms
lichens hanging overhead
chandeliers to light the trail
winding between the trees
Allan: Roger. On Being Welsh – an award-winning novel I have had the pleasure to read and review for The Miramichi Reader. You continue to pile up the awards and inspire us. How does the well-deserved recognition feel? I expect it is something an author never grows tired off.
Roger: Now there are several loaded questions concealed in that paragraph, Allan. First, the awards: I am a dedicated writer and I try always to support the WFNB by entering their writing competitions regularly. I remain true to the words of one of my favorite authors, ‘paper your walls with rejection slips,’ and I have indeed been rejected on many, many occasions. I have also been lucky, extremely lucky, with the awards. Thank you for mentioning them. As for the recognition, more than anything else, it is a confirmation that my writing is on the right track and is improving. It is also an encouragement to keep writing and to keep submitting. As the old saying goes ‘if you want to go from Halifax to Vancouver by bus, stay on the bus. You’ll never get to Vancouver if you get off the bus in Montreal or Toronto and don’t get back on. So: stay on the bus.’
*****Yesterday, we received news that Roger’s writing has yet received another award in the 2021 Writers Federation Writing Competition. First Place for Narrative Non-Fiction with Two Dead Poets. Congratulations, Roger.
Allan: If it is not too personal, Roger, has being a cancer survivor changed your writing in anyway?
Roger: To suffer from cancer is a life-changing experience. In my case, the cancer was caught early and was cleared up. I was treated in Moncton, where I stayed for eight weeks in the summer of 2015. In Moncton, I decided to renew my contact with the French language and I spoke mainly in French throughout the stay and the treatment. To mingle with fellow sufferers, mostly Acadians, many in a worse condition than me, was a humbling experience. To share their lives, their stories, and their language was a revelation. So many doors opened before me. Each day, when I emerged from ‘the throat of the radiation machine’, I saw a renewed beauty in the world around me. It was then that my writing became a dialog with my time and my place (Bakhtin). When I left the Auberge in Moncton, I started to revise and polish my older works and to publish them on Create Space (now Kindle / KDP). Post-cancer, I realized just how precious life is and equally just how important it is to preserve our daily dialog with it. As I said on the back cover of A Cancer Chronicle: “if I can reach out to touch and comfort just one cancer sufferer, this book will not have been written in vain.” Now, I want to reach out and touch the hearts and minds of any and all who read my books.
Allan: Roger. Can you share a few details about your family and where you live?
Roger: I came to Canada 55 years ago this September. Clare followed me four months later, in December. We got married six days after her arrival and will celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary this December. I came to New Brunswick (UNB) 50 years ago this July. Clare followed me in August, so for both of us this year marks our fiftieth year in this province. We have lived in Island View, just 100 meters outside Fredericton city limits, for the last 32 years. We are surrounded by trees and receive regular visits from the local wildlife, including deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, a fox, a snowshoe hare, and an occasional bear. The garden is graced, all year round, by a multitude of birds. In summer we have hollyhocks and bees’ balm both of which are a delightful landing ground for bees and butterflies. Alas, we live on the other side of the hill from the river, and as I always say, there is not an island in view from our home in Island View.
Allan: Roger. You have a large body of work and I know this question to be difficult, but I’m interested in which is your favorite? Which was the most difficult to write?
Roger: Given that all my writing is my dialog with my time and my place, I am very happy with all my books as each one marks a stage in my development as a writer and a person. That said, I think that the Oaxaca sequence was a breakthrough as I came face to face, in Oaxaca, with some very different ways of seeing our world. Mexico, and especially pre-Columbian Mexico, was a revelation to me and changed me and my writing considerably. Post-Oaxaca, I was able to write with far greater freedom about a world I now contemplated with a different vision. That new vision also appears in Though Lovers Be Lost, which remains one of my favorite pieces of writing with its memories of Canada and Wales.
Monkey Temple stands out too because it shows a different world view that combines humor with the satirical spirit of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I am so happy to have written something that runs parallel to all those little animals and Monkey Temple is the closest I can get. My Moncton experience, 2015, opened up visions of the inner lives of myself and others and, post-Moncton, I was indeed able to come face to face with the darker side of life, to confront it, and overcome it. My latest book, On Being Welsh, is representative of that stage in my development. Then, of course, a pantheistic strain runs through my writing and presents the natural world through the eyes of the Spanish mystics and their deep love of nature. Triage and All About Angels fit in here, as does The Empress of Ireland. However, the most important work in this category is One Small Corner, a book of poems embracing the seashore and the natural world of St. Andrews, written during my residency at KIRA in June 2017. I should mention too the experimental work, completed with the help of Geoff Slater, in which word and image mirror each other, his drawings and my words. Scarecrow and Twelve Days of Cat fit this category. As for ‘difficult to write’, the earlier books were the most difficult as I was struggling with the eternal questions, who am I and why am I writing? When I found the answer to those questions, writing became much easier.
Allan. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Roger: First and foremost, the pleasure and pride I take in being a writer and of sharing in a series of writing communities here in New Brunswick, Canada. Second, the deep friendship and sense of community I share with many friends, too many to mention, but you, Allan, and Jane, are foremost among them. Finally, I would like to congratulate you on the work you do for writing in general and us local writers in particular. Thank you for being here for us and allowing us to share your platform.
***Thank you for the kind words, Roger. I’m honoured to have you and Jane as my guests.
An Excerpt from On Being Welsh.
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)
When am I? I am now, here in your hands, or there before your eyes.
Each letter I sketch with my heart blood as it drips off the pen nib or flows
through my fingertips and into the keys is a link forged through time and space
and makes our meeting like this contemporaneous. I may have been dead for a
hundred years when you read these words, yet here we are talking through your
eyes as if I were present and in the room with you. When am I? I am now, I am
here, and my when is your now, and each word you read is the now of my reaching
out to you and entering your presence. And yes, this when of which I write now
shines in your mind, a beacon to guide you and a light to bring you your own
For my when is a sunbeam radiating through a raindrop to arc rainbows in your mind. It is a thin coating of January ice on a berry-laden tree with sunbeams flowing through it. It is a brief breeze tinkling ice-coated branches. It the Big Ben chime of our grandfather clock, more than two hundred years old, a clock that stands in the hall, and speaks to me in the same voice that my father and grandfather heard.
Listen: all through this hour, it chimes, be by my side, / and with thy power, / my footsteps guide. And this is my when, all my when’s, every single one of them. Omnia vulnerant, ultima necat / all hours wound, the last one kills. Every tick of the tick-tock clock, every quarter chime, each hour striking ... these are the milestones of our lives. When am I? I am now (tick) and now (tock) and you will never again hear those Big Ben chimes without thinking that this is the now and the when in which we meet across time and space and join together in a perpetual union of minds across a time and space whose distances do not matter.
Thank you, Jane and Roger, for taking the time to be our featured guests this week. Wishing you both tremendous and continuous success with your writing.
For all you clever visitors wanting more info on Jane and Roger, please follow these links: