Today, in the Forum, I’m very pleased to welcome Norma Budden, author of “An Affair to Remember,” and "Anticipation." Norma is usually refreshingly candid, so I have a feeling we’re in for not just an interesting visit but also for an unadorned glimpse inside the life of a very special writer.
Tim Greaton: Could you tell us a little about what you do when you’re not entertaining the rest of us?
Norma Budden: Well, Tim, my non-writing background is almost as entertaining as the fictional worlds I create. I've spent most of my adult life in the retail sector (employed by The North West Company) working throughout various departments for nearly 20 years. From maintaining a fabric section, to working in the food service sector and, finally, to administration, it has provided much entertainment, not to mention, frustration along the way. Of course, because teamwork plays such an important factor, any day could see me serving customers in the post office, being a cashier or stock clerk and even working in the produce section of the store. Let's just say that it pays to be flexible, in more ways than one.
Tim Greaton: What was it like growing up in the huge country north of the United States?
Norma Budden: When I look back to those days, despite having seen many places because of living in different provinces of Eastern and Atlantic Canada, it seemed I was always saying, "Good-bye." I learned to adapt rather quickly each time we moved but, as I grew older, moving had become a two-edged sword: I looked forward to new adventures but hated leaving great friends behind.
It shaped my life in ways most people might never imagine; to this day, I cannot say, "Good-bye." For almost two decades, I've remained in one Arctic Canadian town. Others come and go but I've learned not to become too attached to transients, shall we say, for fear that someone will leave and not keep their promise to be in touch. However, when someone has taken the extra effort to become a friend, that friend is treated with the utmost respect and I love him/her beyond what words can relay. After all, each friend is a gift from God and, with these select few, there'll be no need to part company for, even if friends pass from this life into the next, they'll forever remain within my soul.
Tim Greaton: I understand that two very special men strongly influenced who you have become. Could you tell us about them?
Norma Budden: Since I can remember, Dad has always encouraged me to shoot for the stars - that, even if I only hit the top of the fence, it was OK because I gave whatever I was doing my best shot. That has lingered with me as well as him teaching me that, when in doubt, it was best to say, "No," that I could always change my mind later. I've lived by those words, too.
Pastor John Dueck of Saskatchewan, Canada, influenced my life just as deeply. He believed in me and, despite the times I've disappointed him, he has never reserved judgment, nor turned me away. Loving me as a man would love his child, he helped me through some of the most difficult periods of my life, for which I'll always be grateful.
Between Dad and John, and my faith that God will never ask me to bear more than I'm able, I know I can face whatever life throws my way. Sometimes it's an enormous challenge but I know it's not impossible.
Tim Greaton: How do the memories of other people and places from your past influence your life and your writing?
Norma Budden: The places from my past that I'll never forget revolve around relationships - one of which, according to God and society, should never have taken place. Even so, its demise created a void in my life, crippling me on the inside even as my outer shell continued to exist. The circumstances of that time were those I would never want to live through again; in fact, I'm surprised my heart withstood the pain and pressure.
In retrospect, despite having met one of the most understanding people I'd ever know, the ensuing heartache, the angry words and glares by others make me question whether it was worth it. In one sense, it was a period which taught me invaluable lessons I'd remember for the rest of my life - for which I'm grateful. However, from another perspective, inwardly, I continue to feel the need to prove that I'm so far removed from the fragile person I used to be.
Conversely, the relationship I had that was sanctioned by God turned out to be a nightmare from which I have to wonder if I've truly healed. Most times I think I have - until another wave of sorrow hits.
I could go on, but won't. Suffice it to say, when I'm writing, I like to write about characters with hope of loving each other and staying together despite the storms life presents. It hasn't happened in my own life so I live my hopes and dreams through fiction. That's not to say I don't lead a full life! I have three energetic children and a grandchild, wonderful friends, a job I enjoy and a budding writing/publishing career. Each night when I go to bed, I thank God for all of the above. I couldn't imagine my life feeling more complete.
Tim Greaton: Norma, I know that you don’t care much for TV, which is understandable for someone so creative, but what do you do when you need to take a break from writing? I’m betting you have one or more fascinating hobbies.
Hobbies...it would be beautiful if I didn't have so many because then I might actually get more of an opportunity to dabble in those things I enjoy so much. Nowadays, when I think of my hobbies, it gives me an increased level of stress because I have to set so many of them aside, for the time being.
For example, I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles but, with a little pipsqueak (4-year-old son) who likes to help and then hide some pieces away, sometimes forgetting where he has put one, or two...well, this is a puzzle it won't take you long to put together.
I also enjoy cross-stitching but rarely get the time to sit unless in front of a computer or eating a meal...so that rules out so many other things. Perhaps I should begin watching television so I can do more of these things, but sitting for hours in front of a television just doesn't appeal to me.
Photography - I'm passionate about taking photos of subjects and landscapes from different angles. I'd do it more often if the temperatures in Arctic Canada were reasonable during winter months. However, they are far from reasonable and there are only so many photos I want to take inside the house. As a result, most photo opportunities must rest until the warmer months of the year and during annual vacation.
Thank God I enjoy reading! That is a hobby I can enjoy anywhere and dabble in before going to sleep. There's no setup involved, no materials to gather, no mess involved and it's easy to set aside for another day. I just have to find more hobbies of this nature. Perhaps this will become my newest hobby - finding hobbies of this nature.
Tim Greaton: Of course, you and I run in a lot of the same publishing circles, Norma. And in those circles I constantly hear how detail-oriented and forthright you are in your work. Where does that come from?
Norma Budden: I’m a self-admitted, bona fide perfectionist! Does that mean my books are perfect? Heck, no! I'm not sure that any book ever is. Even when a book seems perfect, when I read through it again, I'll think of a different word I'd like to use instead and - you got it! If the new word seems SO much better, I make the change. People wouldn't notice these changes however, so I have great debates with the perfectionist side of my personality. You should hear us sometimes!
However, I like to think my efforts to make things perfect help people to enjoy what I write. I hope they continue turning pages, wondering what will happen next and enjoy not requiring a dictionary, because I write in language everyone understands. Don't get me wrong! I enjoy consulting my dictionary but I don't want ANYONE consulting it when reading my books; I want them to get lost in the story they're reading.
One of the comments I've received most regularly, since writing An Affair to Remember, is that readers admire my honesty. They enjoy that I can write about episodes of my own life and how it relates to my writing, which is something most of them admit to not being able to do. These comments alone make it worthwhile.
Are most of your works available or do you have a backlog of projects you plan to circle back to?
Norma Budden: Unlike my friend, J.C. Allen (author of M.O.D. and some great YA titles), I don't have a drawer full of unfinished projects or stories just waiting to be finished and published. Most every work I've ever written has been published, whether a poem was posted on my web site, a book was published or I'm in the process of writing a book with immediate intentions of publishing it.
That being said, there are three stories I have partially written - basically setting the stage for things to come - and I do intend to get to them again, if ideas for future stories can take a back seat for a while. I even get inspiration from typos; go figure!
Tim Greaton: We all tend to borrow personalities and circumstances from people in real life. Have you ever fictionalized a real person? And, if so, did you find yourself changing or exaggerating them?
Norma Budden: When I started writing “An Affair to Remember” there was a cop that I, loosely, based the story around. Granted, in reality, this cop loves his wife and family, putting them above everything else in his life. However, I imagined how he might feel if his wife or family was threatened and, from there, sprang some of the emotion contained within the confines of the story. His dedication to seeking justice and protecting his family would prevail. However, the part where the cop strayed from his family was pure embellishment as it's something he'd never do.
Tim Greaton: I’m always amazed at the variety of methods and writing habits that my friends have developed. I especially enjoy your take on all of that. Would you be willing to share your “writing system” with our readers?
Norma Budden: Writing system? What writing system? I fly by the seat of my pants most times when I sit at the computer. Granted, my intentions are to write but that's not always the case. By the time I check into social networks, respond to e-mails, post a few things I discover onto social networks and respond to additional e-mails, my time is often used.
Even so, I seem to be able to meet my deadlines. How do I manage? All I can say is thank God I've never experienced writer's block. When the time comes that I open my file and sit down to write, the story just writes itself, often taking me on the same journey as my readers.
Tim Greaton: I understand that your latest release is a very long story or a novella. Could you tell us about it?
Norma Budden: “Anticipation” was created from an impulse idea - and the story gets stranger as I tell it. With the intention of sitting to write about a couple who struggles with infertility issues, I started writing about Janet Elcott, a single woman, whose uncle intended to leave her with a mansion, as long as she promised not to live alone. She gave in and her life, and challenges, with roommates began. I certainly strayed off course, didn't I?
Tim Greaton: Will there be a sequel? Or do you plan on exploring other realms or even other genres next?
Norma Budden: To date, I've published “When Love Abides,” which is the sequel to “An Affair to Remember.” “Soul Confessions,” the third book of my Freedom in Love series will be released June 30, 2012. I have a sneaking suspicion there will be a fourth book; if so, I'll be sure to let my readers know - in the back of “Soul Confessions” and through promoting it online.
Tim Greaton: I’m always fascinated by authors with impressive and growing libraries. Do you plan your stories in detail or are your works more organic in structure?
Norma Budden: Unlike many authors, I can't sit with a detailed outline. If I did, no story would be published - or, if they were, chances are I'd hate them. I have to follow as inspiration strikes because, fortunately for me, I'm created from a different cloth. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction because I don't know how any of my stories end until their ending has been written.
Tim Greaton: Did you have a point in one of your works that was particularly hard to write? Why?
Norma Budden: The most difficult part of writing An Affair to Remember was the Author's Note at the back. I labored over it for hours, even days, revising and setting it aside, revising it again. I came to Arctic Canada to start life anew - to be surrounded by people who didn't know me. By publishing this note at the back of my book, I knew I was taking an enormous risk in having people shun/berate me. However, even when I'd delete it, it would find its way back there. I knew it was meant to be written by the sense of enormous release I felt when I clicked the publish button.
I guess I've grown over the years because now I look at things more simply: if friends were to shun me for an episode from my past - from a time when they didn't know me - they were never friends at all. Besides, if I ever do become a popular writer, I wouldn't want to have this skeleton in my closet. Wouldn't that be something? I'd rather tell the story myself.
Tim Greaton: If (or I probably should say when) your ebook “An Affair to Remember” is released in print, what will the back cover say?
Norma Budden: The last thing Monica Townsend expected when leaving her little office was to be kidnapped and held captive in an abandoned warehouse. She definitely wasn't prepared to meet Chase Travers - family man, devoted cop - who came to her rescue then refused to leave her side - even as she stayed in the hospital overnight for observation. Soon after the sound of a gunshot explodes in the hospital corridor, the two flee into the night.
Chase and Monica become an inseparable pair embarked on a mission to save their lives. Dark forces are at work that neither could've imagined; danger lurks around every corner as they race to find the answers. Someone is after her; he is her only ally - and the enemy draws closer every second.
Can they safely run from a handful of the deadliest men in the world or will their enemy overtake them when they least expect it? Will they be able to get back to their normal lives or, when all is said and done, will they be able to say, "Good-bye?"
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly communicate with you and purchase your stories.
Norma Budden: I have multiple blogs/sites but they can all be found through visiting my personal website at http://www.normabudden.com
My books can be purchased at different sites online but each title can be purchased at Amazon. The link to my author page is: http://www.amazon.com/Norma-Budden/e/B005NX4XPM
Tim Greaton: Thanks for taking the time with me today, Norma. I’m fortunate to have some of the greatest forum readers in the world, and I have every faith that many of them will be looking up your stories as soon as we finish up here.
Norma Budden: Thanks, Tim. It was my pleasure and what a great unexpected surprise - and treat - it was! I do want to take the opportunity to thank your readers for taking a few moments of their valuable time to learn more about my work and my life.
“Despite the candid review, I do hope there were a few times when I've, at least, made you smile.”