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Getting into the mind of a character

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Special to the Packet & Times

MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES
Justin (J.R.) Matheson, left, was at Manticore Books Saturday with his mother and the co-author of the Paige Maddison supernatural fantasy-fiction series. They are pictured with Mikaela Mayhew, right, talking about the third instalment in the book series.

MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES Justin (J.R.) Matheson, left, was at Manticore Books Saturday with his mother and the co-author of the Paige Maddison supernatural fantasy-fiction series. They are pictured with Mikaela Mayhew, right, talking about the third instalment in the book series.

Mystery and history were the flavours being served at a local bookstore where Orillia authors had gathered to sign books for readers.

"A lot of people have come up and asked if they're in the book and I've said, 'You'll have to buy the book to find out,'" said Sherry Lawson, who was one of the authors at Manticore Books on Saturday. Answering the question while not giving away too much of the content in the book, she added, "There are always local people in the book and people may just see themselves in the book."

Lawson was signing copies of her third memoir He Looks Kind of Rough, Do You Want Me To Stay? and giving away pieces of home-cooked bannock.

As with previous books, the latest one also contains an excerpt about a future piece of literature.

"There's at least one more book in me," she said. "It continues to be a good form of therapy for me."

Before the next book happens, residents were content to grab copies of the latest one for themselves or as gifts for family members.

"My mother read the first book and she likes her (Lawson's) stories and the history," said Lynn Payne, who picked up a copy. "She's interested in local writers and Orillia artists. She always just likes to read and have a cup of tea and relax."

At the other end of the downtown shop were the mother-son writer duo, Lee-Bice Matheson and Justin (J.R.) Matheson. They are authors of the spiritual and supernatural fantasy starring the teenaged protagonist Paige Maddison, who has the ability to see beyond the layers of reality everyone else sees.

They were signing copies of Shine Your Light, the third instalment in the series, that has made it to the Amazon bestseller list.

The writing includes mystery and the supernatural, but has no drugs, sex or swearing, said Lee-Bice.

"It's a family-oriented series," she said. "And there's more to life than that."

The two brainstorm ideas together and then take their parts of the book to write up separately, bringing characters to life, said Lee-Bice.

"We just do a cursory outline of the plot, and it takes about a week or two to do that," she said. "We banter back and forth. We're animated about it, and we love what we do."

Later, they read through the other's writing before sending it forward to a publisher to put together as a book.

"We sort of go back and forth (in writing parts) in the third book," said Justin. "I wrote most parts for Ariana, the antagonist. I think I'm slightly darker than my mom in my writing."

But when he takes a break from writing in the next couple years to complete his PhD in clinical pharmacology, Lee-Bice will keep writing and advance Maddison's journey into adulthood.

"I'm going to continue the series," said Lee-Bice, adding the story is going to step outside the young-adult genre now. "Paige is now going into university, so I'll be taking it out of the teens and tweens into the adult age group. So there will be life's other aspects in it. Some things that people do in university under peer pressure."

Even though Justin will miss fiction writing while he's completing his science degree, he will still be helping his mother when she needs consultation.

Both attend Toronto's Word on the Street Festival and advise young writers to pursue their passion in writing with dedication.

"Just write every day and eventually you will write something you like," said Justin.

His mother agreed with him about making it a daily practice and added, "Just let your imagination go and don't be afraid of a blank page. Don't take too long a break from it or you'll lose the story line."

mshahid@postmedia.com

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