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I’m a writer. It’s what I do.

As she stares into the camera, Joy looks right at you. That’s who she is. “I’m a writer. It’s what I do.”

“I’ve been writing my whole life,” explains Joy. “I love telling stories. I probably played with paper dolls longer than others because I was dreaming up new stories and worlds.”


Joy is the consummate storyteller (and podcast guest). Without pretensions she sat down, put on the headphones, and started to talk.

More than four decades have passed since she wrote her breakthrough novel Kiss Mommy Goodbye. It was her forth novel, but she said it was the first that she wrote the way she wanted. Upon its release, it very quickly became an international success topping best-seller lists in Canada, the US and Europe – Germany is an especially big market.


THE BREAKTHROUGH TO SUPER STARDOM HAPPENED QUICKLY


Kiss Mommy Goodbye was my break-through book,” Joy says. “I had a feeling when I was writing it. I always do a detailed outline first and try to follow it when I’m writing, but this one flowed exactly as planned. I knew it was going to be something special. It was when I had finally stopped worrying about what I thought people wanted to read and had decided I would write something that felt right to me.”

“The whole process was so exciting. Just after it was released in Europe I got a call from my agent, “it was creating a sensation in Germany.” The call was to tell me that the people were going bananas at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Countries that normally never bought books were paying fortunes for the rights. I was in seventh heaven. It was the first time I ever made decent money as a writer.”


I’M ALL ABOUT THE EMOTION


Joy’s books are page turning psychological thrillers that feature strong women and mother/daughter relationships. Joy makes family trauma her go to. She explores divorce, child abductions, teen rebellion, pressures facing working mothers and misguided romances. To quote Linda Richards from January Magazine, "There is little Hollywood gloss. Fielding's characters resonate with life as we see it. A refreshing change of pace in a world of silicone and hair mousse."


When I asked friends if they had read any of her books, the response is almost always the same, “I’ve picked them up at the airport. They’re great reads. I’m fully immersed, turning pages and hardly notice the flight.” Great tribute, I think!


“My main characters come from me. I handle their development like a method actor. In their situation, what would I do? I create histories, life stories, for each of my characters, for every book. Behaviour is always motivated by character. Emotions are what creates the character. I’ve been accused of writing too simply. To me the story is important. Language is used to tell the story.”


BOOKS, FILMS, TOURS AND MORE


“You’ve written at least 25 chart-topping books; they are translated into more than 20 different languages and at least 6 have been made into movies in English and 3 in German. Do you do the screen plays as well?”


“I try,” says Joy. “I’ve written several screen plays, some have been accepted, others were rejected, and different copy writers were brought in. It’s a different type of creative challenge and I love it.”


WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING?


Joy is quick to share her age – 78 – and to talk about fitness, good food, good wine, good friends, and good conversation as how she stays so in tune with the world around her. Family is hugely important. Not just the challenging family dynamics that are a central theme in her books. But the joy and heartbreak of her own family. The heart break of losing her parents too early; the joy of her wonderful family including her husband of 50 years, two daughters, sons-in-law and two grandchildren.


“Oh, and I do puzzles every morning – sudoku, crossword, word games.”


MY MOTHER WAS MY GREATEST FAN, SHE DIED TOO YOUNG


Joy’s mother, Anne, was one of her greatest allies. From shielding Joy from the stings of rejection (she told her the reason her first story at eight wasn’t accepted was because it was too mature for the publication it was submitted to), to supporting her through the early creative years. “My mother was always there for me,” says Joy. “I never felt rejection, even as an eight-year-old. My mother must have sent the one-page story in and when it was rejected, she told me the story of maturity. I believed it. It wasn’t until my sister, and I were cleaning out her home after her passing, that I came across the notice from the publisher that simply said – rejected. Not a word about maturity. I was genuinely surprised.”


“Receiving criticism is difficult. I write page turning, popular fiction. The characters and the emotion are what’s important. I like to tell the story. I’ve been told because my books are easy to read that they are not worthy. One reviewer will be excited, the next “this is a piece of crap.” I guess the deciding factor is how many books are sold and how many letters you receive from readers that tell you how the story affected their lives. Way back with “Kiss Mommy Goodbye”, I did receive a letter from a man who had gone through a divorce and had kidnapped his children. He said that after reading my book, he had taken the children back home because the book had made him understand what he had done.”


WRITING IS PART OF THE PICTURE


“As a writer, I lead a fairly solitary life. Because I’m actually an extrovert, I balance the time I spend at my computer locked in my own head, with walks with family and friends, frequent lunches out and travel. We own property in both Toronto and Palm Beach, so I have two locations and I write in both. It was especially hard during covid when we were not able to go to our Florida property. It added to the feeling of isolation.”

“I know most would say being confined to the house would not be a hardship to a writer, but I found it very hard. I woke up swearing and I went to bed swearing. I couldn’t concentrate, and nothing came out. I was, anxious, depressed, and angry. Mostly angry. Then I started to read guest articles from other writers that were saying how productive they were. And I kept thinking – no it’s not, I’m having a hard time. When I wrote an article about the challenges I felt, I suddenly started to get so many people contacting me to say – me too. It really helped and opened the creative flood gates for me. I wrote two new novels. Novel number 30 will be released in the next 10-12 months. It’s in editing now.”


WHAT WILL MY LIFE BE LIKE IN 10 YEARS?


“I hope I’ll be here. Because my parents and my older relatives had died young, I didn’t think I’d be around this long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a great time and want to continue, but I didn’t know if I had the genetics for it,” explained Joy. “I’ll tell a story. I was out for lunch in Florida with some friends and their mothers – I always feel a bit sad when others of my genre still have their mothers about. I really miss mine. Anyway, we all went out for lunch and these lovely two women, 94 and 98 came with us. They were dressed well, moved freely, and had keen minds and curiosity. That’s how I want to be in 10 or more years, enjoying lunch with friends.”


WHAT LIFE LESSON DO YOU WISH YOU KNEW SOONER?


“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” says Joy. “I know that’s a bit predictable, but it’s the truth. I used to think after I finished a book – well that’s it, no more new ideas are going to come. It’s not the case, they continue to come. I continue to enjoy writing – it’s important that I never stopped. But it’s important to know that most of the stuff we twist ourselves over are not really important. Health is important, family is important, small stuff is not important.”

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This was an amazing interview! Loved every minute. I am 65 as well, Pat, and listened while I was on the elliptical. When you said, "We have been talking for 42 minutes" I had done that long and was sweating. So, thank you, for keeping me going.

Gilla
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