Mystery Monday: R.J Harlick on When Dreams Become a Reality

This week I have the honor of hosting R.J. Harlick on Mystery Mondays. I was lucky enough to have R.J. provide an endorsement of BLAZE which I proudly display on the cover, so it is a true pleasure to have her on Mystery Mondays.

R.J is here to talk to us about When the dream becomes a reality.

By R.J. Harlick

Hi Everyone.

I’m thrilled to be speaking to you today on Kristina’s blog . Thanks, Kristina for inviting me.

Today I thought I would address a question I am often asked by readers. At what point did I know I wanted to be a writer?

Though some of my confrères knew at a very young age, for me it was a more gradual transformation. There was no lightening bolt moment when I shouted, “Yes, I want to be a writer.” I more or less slid into it, starting where most writers start, as a reader.

As a child, I devoured books, in particular mysteries beginning with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, eventually graduating to Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Dorothy Sayers, Raymond Chandler, Nero Wolf and the like. Sometimes I thought it would be fun to write one of these myself.

I even tried writing a mystery for a grade seven English class. But I blush at the memory. I’m afraid this first attempt was far too long and, I hate to say it, far too boring. Nonetheless I kept this idea of writing a mystery buried in the far reaches of my mind.

Though I loved reading, English was never my favourite subject in high school. I found the piecemeal taking apart of a story would destroy the magical hold it had over me. But I loved the creative writing part of English classes. I’d spend many an hour on class assignments making the stories swirling around my head come alive with words. Needless to say many had a mystery angle to them.

In university, I continued to enjoy playing with words. I excelled at making essays sound as if I knew something about the topics about which I was writing, when I didn’t. Studying wasn’t one of my strengths. Perhaps this is where my penchant for creative writing started.

I also continued to read voraciously branching out into the world of the greats. Though I thought it might be fun to become a writer, like Ernest Hemingway or Somerset Maugham, I didn’t treat it seriously. I didn’t really think I had it in me.

This enjoyment for words continued on into my work life as an information technology consultant. I invariable preferred the writing part of my job to other aspects. But it was business writing; letters, proposals and reports. Nonetheless I continued to harbour the dream of being ensconced somewhere bucolic penning the next great Canadian novel, or should I say mystery.

To satisfy my need to write, I started recording my time spent at my log cabin in a journal. Finally, one day after reaching a significant birthday, I decided it was time to find out if I could become the fiction writer in the bucolic setting of my dreams. The setting was easy. I was already sitting in it; the screened-in porch of my log cabin overlooking the surrounding forests. And so I set out to write what would eventually be published as my first Meg Harris mystery, Death’s Golden Whisper.

My first goal was to see if I could write a novel. Up till then, none of my business writing had approached the one hundred thousand word length of a typical novel. The next goal was to determine if I could write fiction, for I quickly discovered fiction writing was a totally different animal from business writing. As I marched along this new adventure, scene after scene, chapter after chapter, toward the climactic end, I realized I really, really enjoyed it. I decided writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The third goal, of course, was to see if I could get it published. But this is a story best left for another day. Let’s just say it was a long haul with many disheartening rejections.

Seven books and the odd short story later I am still having fun. I’m in the midst of continuing my adventure with Meg. I’m midway through the writing of the eighth Meg Harris mystery. Though I do have a title, I’m not quite ready to share it, in case I change my mind. But I will tell you that the colour for this book is purple and it will be set in the Northwest Territories.

What about you? Was it a slow gradual slide into becoming a writer or did you know from the get-go that you wanted to be one?

Cold White Fear final coverNow for some BSP – If you happened to live in the Toronto area, I will be reading from and signing my latest book A Cold White Fear on Thursday, January 28 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 at Sleuth of Baker Street on Millwood Ave. It would be fabulous to see you there.



RJ Harlick is an escapee from the high tech jungle. After working for over twenty-five years in the computer industry, first for major computer corporations such as IBM and DMR Group, then with her own management consultancy practice, she decided that pursuing killers by pen would be more fun than chasing the elusive computer bug.

Originally from Toronto, R.J., along with her husband, Jim, and their standard poodles, Sterling and Miss Molly, now bides her time between her home in Ottawa and log cabin in West Quebec. A lover of the outdoors, she spends much of her time roaming the forests of the Outaouais. Because of this love for the untamed wilds, she decided that she would bring its seductive allure alive in her writings. This she has done in her Meg Harris mystery series, where the wilderness setting plays almost as large a role as the main character, Meg Harris.


11 thoughts on “Mystery Monday: R.J Harlick on When Dreams Become a Reality

  1. Another great Mystery Monday! R.J., my early reading list sounds just like yours. I wonder how many of us were inspired by Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie? I was also inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I read it as a young girl — when I was really too young to fully understand it — and much later as an adult. Truly a masterpiece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, Judy, so many of us mystery authors were inspired by our early forays into crime fiction. I will admit though that I’ve never read In Cold Blood. Perhaps I should.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not as compelling today because we are so saturated with violence on 24/7 news and in movies, TV shows, video games etc. But when it was written there was none of that, and Capote paints the picture of the Clutter family murder and the men who committed the crime with absolute brilliance. I was just a kid — maybe 10 — when I read it and I remember thinking, WOW, this is what I want to be able to do some day. Not that I have ever achieved Capote’s greatness. If you can, watch the movie Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role (he WAS Capote–an incredible performance). It’s about the writing of the book and one of my favourite movies of all time. I’ve seen it a dozen times.

      Also, seeing you are in Toronto — maybe you should swing by the OLA Superconference at the Metro Convention Centre. A few of us are there on Thursday for CWC — we get 2 minutes to pitch our latest book! Vicki Delany is in charge of it.


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