As Pari mentioned yesterday, I’ll be posting as Denise Dietz and Beatrice Brooks. Soon Bea will be writing a weekly serial called GOLDIE TRESS AND THE THREE BEERS (no, that’s not a typo).
Today I’ll introduce Deni, that’s me, via the following interview. The other participant is my husband, novelist Gordon Aalborg.
Q: Hi Gordon and Deni. You two met on-line, or so the story goes?
Gordon: We were both members of an on-line writers’ group, and our paths did cross, occasionally, and fiery words did fly through the ether between Australia and Colorado, yes.
Deni: We both belonged to an on-line writers group. Gordon – published with 20 Harlequin romances as Victoria Gordon – would sign his posts Gordon/Victoria. One day he sent me a personalmessage and signed it "El Gordo." I didn’t know who the heck he was, but his words were…fiery…so I had to respond.
Q: Fiery words, but no romantic sparks?
Gordon: Not for a few years. Then that woman had the temerity to suggest we ought to try and write a book together. I, of course, scoffed at such nonsense. But she got her way—girls usually do.
Deni: Since I was writing mysteries and Gordon was writing romances, I suggested we write a romantic suspense together. Of course, I had to change all his "girls" to "women."
Q: And you did write a book together, or is that just a myth, too?
Gordon: Oh, we did indeed. It’s called FINDING BESS – her idea of a title [or maybe mine…I forget]. Indeed we wrote the entire book "on-line," half a world apart and still without having actually met. It was an…interesting exercise.
Deni: We wrote a wonderful book. Gordon came up with the title: FINDING BESS. My job was to "Americanize" the American heroine. Soon I found myself using expressions like "Bloody oath!" in ordinary conversation. My friends thought I was bonkers.
Q: More than that, surely. Didn’t you become "involved" while writing it?
Gordon: Well, that’s Deni’s story. You must ask her. She’ll give you a lot of nonsense answers, of course, but the truth of it is that I simply seduced her. Via the internet. With words – I am a romance writer, after all. But it was a lot of work, let me tell you. The poor girl could only spell in
American, while I am fluent in Canadian, British, Australian and American. And she’d never been out of the continental U.S. in her life and the book was set in Australia. There were…problems.
Deni: It was a wee bit difficult. Gordon is fluent in Canadian, British and Australian, but he couldn’t speak American. Nor could he understand it. I kept telling him I didn’t want to get romantically involved, but the man wooed me. With words. Naturally, there were…problems.
Q: Such as…?
Gordon: Well, she’s a mystery author, for starters. And they’re a weird mob at the best of times and worse when in the throes of being seduced. I kept trying to spice up the romantic elements of our book and she kept trying to insert clues and red herrings. And we’d never – physically – met, which
rather complicated everything.
Deni: Gordon wanted to meet, in person. I had a deadline for a novella. I couldn’t just hop a plane for Australia.
Q: So where and when did you actually meet?
Gordon: On a cold, sunny day in June, at the airport in Launceston, Tasmania.
Deni: I hopped a plane for Australia.
Q: And did you fly into each other’s arms in true romantic fashion?
Gordon: Yes, once I’d figured out who she was – she’d only ever sent me baby photos during our courtship. Typical feminine cunning.
Deni: Yes, we flew into each other’s arms. I had sent him my latest dustjacket portrait, along with some pictures from my childhood. Plus, a candid photo of me in shorts. He framed that picture because (in Gordon-speak) I was "wearing legs."
Q: And now you’re married and living in Canada? Why Canada?
Gordon: Australia was too remote, from many points of view. And I have family here…I started out Canadian, after all. It seemed like a good compromise. So after Deni’s Australian visit, we both sold up, moved here to Vancouver Island. Then we ferried over to Vancouver for the Novelists Inc. writers conference – that’s the organization through which we met – and got married during the conference, which seemed appropriate.
Deni: I loved Australia, but my career is North American based. We couldn’t settle in Colorado when Gordon can’t speak or even spell American words. He bribed me with gorgeous water views as well as mountain views, and we mutually agreed to buy a house in British Columbia.
Q: So what’s it like, having two published authors living in the same house?
Gordon: It’s hell, pure unadulterated hell. There is this phenomenon called "cabin fever"—very common in remote areas. People live too close, get on each other’s nerves, very dangerous. Not a problem for us, of course, because I hardly ever see Deni. In fact, I’m sure I actually
"talked" to her more when I was in Australia. Nowadays, she rises early, removes her illustrious presence to her office and I’m lucky if I see her for the rest of the day.
Deni: It’s heaven, glorious heaven. Gordon and I don’t always have the same tastes when it comes to food, movies or art, but he understands that an author can become obsessed with a work in progress. Gordon knows better than to interrupt me at play…I mean, work.
Q: You have separate offices, then?
Gordon: Oh yes. We hadn’t been in the house a week and I was busy building her this Taj Mahal of an office. She gets the fax machine and photo-copier, and the one heating vent [I get to fetch the firewood] and she’s closer to the kitchen and the loo.
Q: But you both get work done?
Gordon: Writing, you mean? Well, "she" certainly does. The woman’s extremely professional, works very hard. Misses lunch regularly [in the throes of creativity, you understand] sometimes misses dinner.
Deni: We’ve gotten a ton of work done. Gordon has even written three screenplays and a stage play.
Q: Do I detect a note of bitterness from you, Gordon?
Gordon: Bitter? Me? Would you call a man bitter just because he whines at having to send his wife emails from upstairs to downstairs if he wants any sort of conversation during office hours?
Q: You actually send each other emails…within the same house?
Gordon: Better than shouting. No woman enjoys being shouted at, eh? And neither of use enjoys being disturbed while working, so it’s a sort of compromise. Deni’s done a power of work since she came to Canada; we both have. And it couldn’t have gotten done if we didn’t take a reasonably
professional attitude about our writing.
Deni: Gordon sends me lovely emails. He’s so romantic. I have to say, you’ve
never been romanced until you’ve been romanced by a romance author.
Q: What, exactly, have you accomplished since you got together? Writing-wise, that is?
Gordon: Well, in between fetching firewood, mowing lawns, carpentering, painting, fencing, building offices, minding the dog, etc., I wrote three screenplays, reworked the novel on which I based the first screenplay, finished off a variety of projects including my feral cat novel Cat Tracks, wrote a crime fiction novel called The Specialist, carved an eight-foot cedar stump on my front boulevard, and, well, heaps of stuff.
Deni: Since Gordon and I were wed, I’ve written heaps of stuff. Most recently, CHAIN A L
AMB CHOP TO THE BED, the third book in my Ellie Bernstein/Lt. Peter Miller "diet club" series.
Q: Do you think you would have "connected" had you not met on line?
Gordon: No. The distance was too great.
Deni: Of course we would have met. Gordon is my soul mate.
Q (laughing): Who’s the "romantic" now?
Great story, Deni! Talk about getting to know you.
What a lovely and funny courtship story. I know of a few couples who cultivated their romances online. But baby photos? That’s plain mean.
Oh, Deni! I just loved your long distance romance with Gordon! Seems to me there’s a terrific book just waiting to be written here.
Oh this is a blast! As the writing spouse of a writer (and he’s a jazz critic, oy) I particularly enjoyed the “do you share an office?” question. Ha! In our first apartment together we tried to. Many things were thrown. We now share everything but our writing spaces.
It is a pity, so be sure to take the initiative to heart the words out.