Phyllis Bohonis prepares her words like an artist prepares canvas
The images that develop in my imagination are revealed by the written word, not presented in colour on a canvas. However, my craft is also considered a visual art.
On my website, I mention that my writing and love of the written word go back to the time spent as a child at our public library. I loved listening to the librarian read incredible stories from all those fantastic books. I didn’t know then that in my golden years, research is the reason I would still be hanging out in libraries.
As artists must prepare their canvas, writers must prepare their words.
Research is key in writing a novel. It’s not uncommon for me to borrow large numbers of books on a single topic for any given book, or chapter – a couple of years ago it was Croatia and the Bosnian war I was researching for my book The Track. I’ve become a pseudo-expert on the Croatian education system only because a major character in The Track is a surgeon who escaped Croatia in the mid-nineties. He needed a background and I had to build one for him.
I also drew on the private library of a dear friend Dr. Francois Mai for this book. The psychiatric undercurrent of the novel needed the input of an expert so who better than Dr. Mai. He and his wife were kind enough to lend me books for my research.
Research is a labour of love
For the most part, research is a labour of love for me.
I love history. My latest book has taken me back to study my own family roots — the farmlands of southern Saskatchewan. My parents met at a barn dance in the mid-thirties and by the time I came along, World War II had broken out and my dad had enlisted. He didn’t make it overseas but was medically discharged to work in what was then Fort William. (now Thunder Bay, Ontario)
Several times my dad voiced a desire to go back to farming on the prairies; however, my mother informed him he would do so alone. My sisters and I grew up listening to our mother’s stories of getting up before dawn to feed the farm hands — of having to hand pump the water from the well and heat it on the stove for cooking, bathing, and laundry — of hot, dry summers when windows and doors had to remain closed to keep the dust out.
Most recent novel based on author’s roots
My parents’ story became the fodder for my newest novel titled Never Marry a Farmer. Even so, there was much I still had to research about people, buildings and the judicial system in Saskatchewan in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
The setting for this three generation saga is the Estevan, Weyburn, and Regina area of the province and the protagonist was born in the same year as me, 1940. In the story, two murders occur years apart. No witnesses. No motives. Are they related? Possibly. The only person who might know is the murderer. And he or she isn’t talking.
Phyllis Bohonis: A writer whose heart remains in Canada
I love writing and weaving new mysteries. My only regret – I didn’t start earlier. Fire in the Foothills, my debut novel was launched on my 73rd birthday. It remains a favourite among my readers and I have to confess, it’s also a favourite of mine.
Never Marry a Farmer, my seventh novel, became available in early November and will be followed by Sarah Eisenboch, the third book in the very popular 73 Windsor Series which is set in Ottawa. Sarah will be available in early 2020.
All of my books are based in Canadian settings that I have either visited or in which I’ve resided. Several are set in the Ottawa area.
My novels have a unique quality. In almost all, the central characters are over the age of fifty-five. This does not mean they are old and boring – it means they have history and know how to Experience life with a Capital E.
Or visit a bookstore near you and ask for a Phyllis Bohonis mystery. You won't be disappointed!