Pam Withers writes best-selling "extreme sports" adventure books --which are particularly popular with boys. They're riveting; so is their author as a speaker. What else would you expect of a former journalist and editor who was also an outdoor guide?
How/why did you start to write?
My parents were both avid readers. I have fond memories of my mother reading the classics to my five siblings and me. My grandma gave my family the Wizard of Oz collection (15 books).
When I was seven-years-old I told my grandma that I wanted to be a writer.
She said, "That's nice, dear. What will you do to make a living?"
My father suggested I become a journalist. I was 40 years old before I became a fiction writer.
How did you become an author?
I was unemployed for a year and decided to write a novel to keep out of trouble. I wrote a lot in hockey rinks while I watched my son practice. I finished the book. It took 3 years to place after I received 9 rejections.
A friend of a friend connected me with an agent. After reading Raging River, the agent decided to take me on as a client. The agent found my publisher -- Whitecap Books in North Vancouver. Raging River was published 19 years ago.
I had an idea for the series before I started to write Raging River.
Reflect on your writing process
I imagine the climax and work backwards from there asking why questions: why did the kayak go over the waterfall?
I don't start writing until the plot points are plotted out. Then I start imagining the characters.
Was your career in journalism an asset to your writing? How?
Yes, definitely. It taught me discipline, how to conduct research and how to gather information from experts.
What inspires you?
My twisted imagination.
Adventure authors FarleyMowat and Willard Price.
Why did you decide to write for pre-teen and teen boys?
I enjoy writing about adventure because I was involved in outdoor sports. I imagined that what I was writing would only be of interest to boys. I have later learned that girls enjoy reading my books, as well.
This is your 17th novel, any tips for continuing to write through back and arm pain, through good times and bad?
If your passion is writing you can't not write.
Most recently, I saw a magazine article regarding canyoneering and said, "That's going to be the topic of my next story."
The photographer/author of the article became one of the experts who helped me with the story--Tracker's Canyon.
When Tristan's dad disappears, Tristan puts his tracking skills to the test to find him -- but will Tristan's talents save him if it turns out to be a trap?
Thanks to his dad's coaching, sixteen-year-old Tristan is one of the best climbers and trackers in his community. He can read footprints and bushes like they're security-camera footage, and fearlessly descend rock faces and waterfalls. But when his father disappears, leaving his mother too grief-stricken to function, the young canyoneer's life goes into freefall.
Left in the hands of a well-meaning but incompetent uncle and a space-cadet housekeeper, Tristan's life is a struggle no matter how hard he works. Finding himself near the end of his rope at home, the teen decides to set off into Swallow Canyon to search for his father -- only to realize that someone seems to be out to get him. Now the question is who's stalking whom, and are Tristan's skills up to the dangerous game playing out iin the deep, shadowy ravine?