Susan Toy is a published author who splits her time between Canada and the Caribbean. Her novel, Island in the Clouds, and her short story works has garnered exceptional reviews. A tremendous supporter of her fellow authors, she works unselfishly to make sure others are noticed. She was a guest author here at the Scribbler in May with her amusing story, Fifty Ways to Lose Your Liver. She has agreed to answer questions today on the 4Q. Her web site is listed below.
4Q: How did a Canadian gal end up on the tiny island of Bequia?
ST: We were living in the Canadian west when we decided it was time to begin taking tropical holidays. Like everyone else west of Winnipeg, we first travelled to Hawaii. It was okay, but the next time we tried Martinique in the Caribbean. Better than Hawaii, but still too touristy. I was working in a bookstore at the time and asked a customer who I knew had travelled extensively in the Caribbean what her favourite island was.
“Bequia!” she said. “I was only there for three days but I loved it.” Since I was in a bookstore, I began looking through travel guides and couldn’t find much information at all about the place. So, we thought … Perfect! That was exactly the kind of destination where we wanted to spend time. We booked three weeks, arriving on Old Year’s Night (Dec. 31) 1988, and we loved it! People we met kept telling us the number of times they had visited (many, many repeat visitors to this island) as though it were some kind of a badge of honour. The day we returned to Calgary we were faxing back to Bequia to book a hotel room for the following Christmas.
We vacationed on Bequia every year, making friends with other repeat visitors (and a number still remain friends) until one time when our taxi driver stopped his truck, got out, and pointed up the hill to some land he said was for sale. We hadn’t said a word to anyone, but somehow our very astute driver knew we were ready to take the plunge. We met with the man who was selling the land, made a few frantic calls back to our bank in Calgary, and had begun the process of purchasing a half-acre property before we left the island. Once we returned to Calgary we put together an exit strategy.
In 1996, with the shell of our new house built to lock-up stage, we quit our jobs, took early retirement, and moved lock, stock and barrel – including one cat – to begin living on Bequia fulltime.
It’s been an adventure!
4Q: You have been a huge supporter of your fellow writers dedicating a blog – Reading Recommendations www.readingrecommendations.wordpress.com – solely to what they are working on and how to find them. You have been kind enough to include me as well and I thank you for that. How and why did this wonderful site come about?
ST: I have always promoted authors and their books throughout my career – as a bookseller, a publishers’ sales rep, and a self-styled author impresario when I ran a business called Alberta Books Canada. Once I self-published my own novel, I knew the best way to promote it was to continue working with and helping other authors. If we all work together to promote each other it’s better for the entire writing and publishing communities.
I had been hosted on a friend’s blog site and thought that I’d like to set up something similar. I still know many authors from my days in Alberta, and some of those old friends have already been featured or will be in the near future. As well, authors who had been promoted have recommended their friends to me, and still more authors have approached me directly. I’m so pleased to have discovered some very fine writing by international authors who are publishing in just about every genre, fiction and non-fiction, for adults and children, and all formats (print, eBooks, audio) imaginable, and be able to share them with the blog’s readers.
And one of the ways my blog differs from other author promotion sites is that I ask each author to also recommend a book or author who they’re currently reading. So readers receive at least two possibilities for further reading.
I’m also planning to set up a page on the blog that lists Indie Bookstores, worldwide, that stock and sell books by authors who have been featured on Reading Recommendations.
This is my way of giving back to the worldwide writing community while receiving some extra promotion for myself and my own publications.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote with us.
ST: The year I was born, my parents bought a cottage north of Toronto near the town of Minden where we spent every summer until I was old enough to get a job and remain in the big city. The summers melded together into the best memories any child could ask for. When I was four, Dad bought a movie camera (Regular 8) and projector and literally documented everything that happened – family picnics, bonfire nights, learning to swim and water ski, barbecues, parties, killer games of Rummoli, Poker, or Monopoly with big bowls of popcorn, fishing – whatever we did, we have a record of it, and all the people we shared that time with. I realize now, looking back 60 years later, what a gift that was! I managed to transfer some of the films over to CD, but have trouble watching without crying. So, so many good memories!
But I’ve tried to make the most of those memories by writing a novella set at a cottage during the summer. While That Last Summer is not autobiographical, there are many aspects, and even a few characters, that are drawn from all those summers spent at the lake.
4Q: Please tell us what you are working on at the present and what can your readers expect from you in the near future?
ST: Currently, I’m trying to rewrite the second novel in my Bequia Perspectives Series. (Yes, Tim and Rachel … Must. Get. To. Work!!) One Woman’s Island is told from the perspective of a Canadian woman making an extended visit to Bequia in order to distance herself from a recent tragedy. She decides to “live with the locals” but therein lies her problem, because it’s not that easy to integrate successfully on this island. I hope to have this finished and ready to ePublish in time for the beginning of Bequia’s tourist season, Dec. 16. Print will come at a later date, when I feel I have enough of a market for copies.
I have two more finished novellas I would like to prepare to publish under my IslandShorts imprint, and there are a number of short stories I plan to collect together. As well, novels 3 and 4 in the Bequia Perspectives Series are already written but require extensive editing and rewriting.
And I’m working with a few other authors to publish their eBooks under both the IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts imprints.
Thank you Susan for sharing your thoughts on the 4Q. Best wishes for all your future endeavors. Find out more about Susan at www.susantoy.com.
Next week I am happy to welcome back one of my regular contributors, Connie Cook. She will be sharing her short story Fish Girl. You won't want to miss it.
Thank you so much for visiting the South Branch Scribbler. I am pleased to tell you that the Book Launch of my debut novel - Dark Side of a Promise - will take place at the Chateau Moncton on September 7th at 6:30pm. All are invited.