How did you get started?
I have always imagined stories, but way back in 1998, I was toying with a story idea that revolved around the millennium. If I was ever to write a book, the time had arrived. I bought a dozen little dollar store notebooks and started scribbling. Every Monday night I read the latest installment to my weekly knitting group. They cheered me on, encouraging me to keep going until the story was done. 180,000 words later! It was their insistence that the world needed to read my story that prompted me to attend my first writers’ conference. I’m still writing. And maybe one day that first story will actually get published.
Why do you write?
What else would I do? For me, writing is like an addiction—I can’t imagine my life without it. I do struggle with the value of writing fiction, however. Many Christians ignore the number of parables lining scripture, and consider non-fiction the only writing worthy of God. That attitude’s rubbed off on me. I don’t agree, but sometimes I have a hard time shaking it.
How do you fit writing into your schedule?
Because Murder In Hum Harbour is my first published book, until now I’ve considered writing more hobby than career. Yes, I try to dedicate a few hours each day to writing, but the truth is, life interferes. Other commitments seem more pressing. I believe the person God puts in my path today is a greater priority than the story that may be published someday in the future. Until I have contractual commitments that dictate otherwise, I’m sticking with this.
How did this book come to be?
Murder In Hum Harbour is actually the fifth novel I’ve written. I wrote it with a specific publisher in mind, so it’s definitely the most intentional of my novels. I reviewed my past writings, looking for commonalities—like point of view, style, romance-humor mix, medical sidebars, and small town setting—and designed a story that included those features, and met the publisher’s guidelines. Despite my natural inclination to chafe at limits, I accepted the publisher’s restrictions like: no theological distinctive, no denominational affiliations, no ‘questionable’ terminology, no sexual content, no blood. Not that I necessarily wanted those elements in my story, I just don’t like being told I couldn’t. In the end, the publisher I wrote this for terminated their mystery line, and Harbourlight, who has now published it, seems less restrictive.
Short description of book.
When Hum Harbour Nova Scotia’s newly retired doctor dies under mysterious circumstances, part time medical receptionist, part-time jewelry crafter, Gailynn MacDonald sets out to find his killer. Since she’s related to one half of the village, and has known the rest all her life, she thinks it will be easy. But secrets, misunderstandings, and childhood phobias have Gailynn blundering her way into places she should never go. If not for Geoff Grant, her handsome new employer, she’d be in over her head. But maybe she is anyway, because Gailynn never expected to fall in love.
Murder In Hum Harbour is a short, cozy mystery full of quirky characters and small-town charm, published by Harbourlight Books.
A link to the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrUSIFjw4qg
I learned something new about myself the day I found Doc Campbell. Dead bodies freak me out.
A cold fog shrouded the world that morning and after the weekend storm, the silent waves nuzzling the shore seemed insanely gentle. I kept my head down, studying the wet gravel as I walked. Anywhere, at any moment, a brilliant sliver of sea glass might catch my eye. Sea glass is a treasure to be gathered, hoarded and sparingly used in the jewelry I create. I spotted a slice of violet and crouched low, unable to believe my good fortune. Violet sea glass is among the rarest of jewels.
Beyond Hum Harbour’s breakwater a foghorn sounded, its eerie echo raising the fine hairs on the back of my neck. A breeze whispered among the invisible evergreens on the hillside above me, and I looked up in time to see the fog shift ever so slightly.
I’d reached the end of the beach where ancient granite rocks guard the harbor mouth. They rise like a giant whale’s back above the low tidal waters. Impaled on their slick black surface I saw the ghostly silhouette of a large boat. Stuffing the bit of violet glass into my gathering bag, I crept close enough to make out the shredded bits of sail clinging to its mast.
“Hello? Anybody there?”
The whole spooky scene seemed more fitting of a movie than my daily stroll along the beach, and my heart beat faster. Nothing seems alive on a foggy day. I usually find the sensation comforting, even cozy. But this morning it unnerved me.
“If you’re there, please say something. I’m coming up to see if I can help.” It might sound crazy warning a derelict cabin cruiser boat I was approaching but I didn’t want any nasty surprises.
And surprised I was, because when I got close enough and read the name painted on the boat’s hull, I knew whose boat this was.
“Doc? Are you in there?”
Doc Campbell is, or was, Hum Harbour’s only doctor for the past thirty-some years. He’d just retired. In fact, his bon voyage party was Friday night, and he’d set sail for the Caribbean at the crack of dawn the next morning. So what was his boat, the Medical Convention, doing here, on the rocks, on Monday?
Slipping, sliding, I scrambled up the rocks until I was above her and could see into the boat.
“Doc? Can you hear me?”
I tried to make sense of what lay before me. Wedged firmly on the rock, the Medical Convention listed badly to port. Several inches of water pooled in her lowest point, otherwise the deck looked neat as a pin. Crates were safely battened down, the tiny lifeboat securely fastened along the stern. The only sign of trouble, apart from the boat’s obvious position on dry land, was the oddly-shaped lump propping the cabin cruiser’s door open.
Once again an errant breeze lifted the torn fabric. I leaned closer. Doc Campbell lay face down in the pooled water, his pewter hair plastered against his skull, his broad shoulders motionless.
Heart in my throat, I ran.
Hope you enjoyed this snapshot of the murder mystery Murder in Hum Harbour, and of author Jayne Self. If you are unable to attend the Authors Book Fair in Guelph, Ontario, this Saturday, Dec. 10th, look for Jayne on-line at
to order her book to give to your favourite cozy murder mystery fan(s) this Christmas!
Press on, my friends. Press on,