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Till Death Us Do Part
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Authors Margaret Berry

Port Stanley's own murder mystery writer, Margaret Berry, gave a reading from her own new novel released last November, 'Till Death Us Do Part, to the Port Stanley Library Book Club Tuesday evening June 17, 2014.

"A desire to write grows out of a love of reading," Marg answered when asked what prompted her to write. Growing up on a farm with limited access to books, Marg credits her mother for instilling the love of reading in her. When old enough to be allowed to read them, Marg devoured the pages of her mother's leather-bound copies of Charles Dickens works and Dickens remains her favourite writer. Marg is, herself, also a fan of murder mysteries.

As she was finishing high school her principal called her into his office to advise her that, though she'd been accepted at Teacher's College, he thought she had the potential to earn her living as a writer and she should consider that career choice. She did neither; she got married instead.

When the kids were in school she wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper complaining about a restaurant review one of their reporters had written. The editor offered her a job. From there Marg went on to become a full time writer in the news room of the St. Thomas Times-Journal newspaper, retiring after her husband suffered a stroke.

Marg decided to try her hand at writing a novel because she thought she might suffer withdrawal symptoms if she suddenly just stopped writing after having written every day as a journalist for many years. Set in a senior's home and offering "a glimpse into the senior lifestyle and the hopes and challenges they face," Marg started on her novel in 2002. "I threw in a few murders just to make it more interesting," she laughed.

The book was slow going and Marg's husband Marv kept asking how long it took to write a book and if it was done yet. But about that time Marg and her husband, Marv, had their 7 year old grandson come to live with them so all the women in the audience quickly knew were the time had gone. Married 54 years, Marg did not get the book done before her husband died in 2012.

Marg wrote the book without a plan and basically in a stream of consciousness mode. When finished, she did one rewrite, noticing and correcting time line discrepancies as she went through what ended up as 189 pages of finished copy. When she started looking around on-line for ways to publish the book she did not like the method preferred by Canadian publishers of the writer hiring an agent and self-publishing. She found an American publisher, Publish America, willing to look at her manuscript. She sent it to them and they mailed her back a contract to sign. They didn't ask for a rewrite, in fact, "they didn't change a thing," Marg answered the question.

Hitting the book stands in November of 2013, the book is selling reasonably well in the USA and made one local best sellers list. It is not in the book stores in Canada but can be bought on-line at Amazon.ca, or at Port Stanley Foodland or directly from Marg herself. The copies she gets for stocking Foodland and to sell directly go quickly and she's having a bit of trouble keeping copies in stock. She's currently out of stock but you can order a copy from her at 519-782-3978. The cost, set by the publisher, is $25 a copy. The library also has a copy they lend out.

"Will there be a sequel?" asked a fan in the audience.

"That's a tough question," said Marg. "I haven't decided yet."


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