25th Trillium Award

Readers Write: Lee Bice-Matheson Tells Us How she Started Writing

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Lee Bice-Matheson

By author Lee Bice-Matheson. The first novel in her Paige Maddison series, Wake Me Up Inside, was published in 2012.

The art of storytelling for this author began at an early age while watching my father narrate stories, his face reddened, eyes twinkling with an efficacious grin. Norman Bice put his heart and soul into entertaining others and felt it was his duty to tell a good story despite life’s ups and downs.

Some say my storytelling years began with the birth of my son, Justin. Every night I looked forward to creating a fantasy world for him at bedtime. As he grew older, I continued the tradition while hiking on trails, this time to ward off bears. One day, I realized I had a voice due to my family’s encouragement. It started as a niggle and snowballed into an adamant nudging, demanding to transition from storytelling to the craft of writing.

Enrolling in a writing course was the first step. We were assigned short stories until the last lesson where we could option to write an outline for a book. During this process, I toured a mansion and that is how the O’Brien Manor in my debut novel was born and loosely based. Readership age was easy as our son was a teen and our home was hang-out central. I knew my protagonist would be called Paige Alexandra Maddison (PAM for an acronym after a dearly departed family friend) and based her life as an only child, similar to our son’s. The synopsis was born, the outline created and then I stopped writing for four months. I thought about Paige every day. What would she be like? What are her favourite things to do? I recorded my notes on errant pieces of paper. I had the same process for each character. When this phase was completed, I sat down and wrote the story beginning to end.

To me, there is nothing better than sitting at my laptop, fingers ready to roll, ideas burgeoning. It does not matter whether I’m in my backyard on a fine spring day, laptop plugged into a mile-long extension cord with cardinals dropping by the bird feeder, or sitting at the dining room table with a portal to the outdoor world. I am oblivious at this point to anything surrounding me except Paige’s thoughts and actions. The more time spent writing, the more characters become what you think and dream about; they become your friends.

One day, though not quite certain when it happens, you are no longer alone. If, for instance, you leave your protagonist hanging on the edge of a cliff, it’s like a literal tug to come back and finish the scene. You might be at a cocktail party listening to an acquaintance talk about their trip to Belize, and under normal circumstances this would be an ideal conversation, yet the author inside is niggling and asking, “When are you going home to finish chapter ten and rescue Paige from the ridge?”

Suddenly, one day while doing the rewrites for the tenth time, I felt like I transitioned inside the bubble of the fantasy world I had created. I could smell it and see everything vividly. I’ve sat at my computer after writing a heart-wrenching scene and cried. When finished, I’ll stand up and slap my knee, laughing, and say to myself — That’s good Lee Anne, now that’s good! They say ”write what you know” and I did. I wrote a ghost story — over the span of three and a half years we lost seven family members all close to us. Think about it.

I feel if you are asking people to choose your book to read, of which there are billions, make sure they feel it, hear it, smell it, and cannot put your book down until it’s finished. Make it riveting! Wake Me Up Inside was published last summer and many readers have emailed me ”When I read your book, I could see everything like a movie inside of my head.” That is the biggest compliment to this author.

John Robert Colombo, author and anthologist, reviewed my book and this is my favourite part: “The author deserves to be congratulated, for she has found a style that moves along in a sprightly fashion. She spares the reader the descriptive passages found in most first novels in favour of rewarding the reader with reams of lively speech. The result is that young Paige is very much alive.” Thank you JR for your lovely review and encouraging me in my career as an author.

Lee Bice-Matheson holds a Master of Library and Information Science and Honours history degrees from Western University. On graduating, Lee worked in public, medical and corporate libraries. She is a proud Canadian author, wife and mother. She spends her days helping to manage a chiropractic business with her husband of 22 years. As a writer, she hopes that readers of her work will be highly entertained and find an escape from the darker side of life. Check out her debut novel Wake Me Up Inside, the first of a trilogy via her website or on Facebook. Connect with her on Twitter or on Goodreads.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Do you have a story to tell about your reading or writing? Send an email to [email protected]


Thank you, Lee, for sharing your story with us. Truly inspiring!

Thank you Megan and Clelia for publishing my story on writing. Looks great! What a wonderful venue for promoting authors and their craft.

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