Interview with Don Gutteridge – Author of “Lily Fairchild”

Lily Fairchild

Don Gutteridge
Tablo Publishing (2019)
ISBN 9781970160697

Don Gutteridge was born in Sarnia and raised in the nearby village of Point Edward. He taught High School English for seven years, later becoming a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Western University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He has published seventy-one books: poetry, fiction and scholarly works in literary criticism and pedagogical theory and practice. He has published twenty-two novels, including the twelve-volume Marc Edwards mystery series, and thirty-eight books of poetry, one of which, Coppermine, was short-listed for the 1973 Governor-General’s Award. In 1970 he won the UWO President’s Medal for the best periodical poem of that year, “Death at Quebec.” To listen to interviews with the author, go to: Don lives in London, Ontario.


Hi Don, thank you for joining us today at Reader Views! Tell us a bit about your latest novel, “Lily Fairchild.”

This historical novel tells the story of a pioneer woman living in frontier Ontario in the latter half of the first century and the first half of the twentieth. Lily is witness to and influenced by the great historical events of that period: the clearing of the forests, the coming of the railroads, the Riel Rebellions, the discovery of oil, the Great War and the flu pandemic of 1918. It is a story of struggle, survival and eventually triumph.

What inspired you to write this story?

Two things: I’ve always wanted to write about the early history of Point Edward, my native village, Point Edward, Ontario, and secondly I wished to write a tory from a woman’s perspective.

How involved was the research since the setting is local for you?

Very much so. There are over two dozen references in the bibliography which I attached to the book.

What was the most surprising thing you learned during your research?

That my village had an exciting and varied history.

Our reviewer said of Lily Fairchild that it’s, “…more than just a historical novel. It’s a studied character piece.” Is Lily based on a historical character? What makes Lily unique as a woman of the 19th century?

Lily comes straight out of my imagination. She is representative of the struggles and sacrifices of most women of those times. What makes her memorable is her spunk, her spirit, her commitment to love.

What are some of the issues Lily encountered in the 1800s that women of today still face? How does Lily appeal to the 21st century woman?

Woman were still chattels, extensions of their men in addition to the backbreaking struggle to survive. I think modern women would like Lily’s pluck and her profound insight into her fellow humans.

What were some hurdles you faced when writing from the perspective of the opposite sex and how did you handle those challenges?

Once I got the tale started, the rest was easy. Events occurred and I just shut my eyes and imagined through Lily’s eyes. I wrote the story rapidly and confidently.

What are the ethics of writing historical fiction?

You try to be historically accurate, either literally or in the spirit of.

You’ve written a staggering number of books – over 70! When did you first learn about the power of language and the written word?

Miss Macdonald, my grade three teacher, praised my first story and I was off!

Your writing style is poetic and graceful and, as you have written several volumes of poetry, you have an obvious love for the genre. What inspired your interest in poetry?

I really did not start writing poetry until university where I studied the greats: Shakespeare, Keats, Shelley and Coleridge. I was inspired by the Romantic poets in particular.

You also have a mystery series! Did you know you were going to start a series when you wrote the first book or did the series develop over time?

That interest developed after I had read 500 mysteries in my middle age.

What does your writing schedule look like? Do you write every day?

When I was writing fiction, I used to try and write every morning. If nothing came, I went and did something else. Write quickly in great bursts.

How has your writing evolved over the years?

My poetry has evolved from long-line historical poems to short-lined lyrics.

What do you love most about being a writer?

Sinking down into the comforter of words.

What do you like to read?

I read fiction, poetry, and non-fiction (history and biography).

Which writers have inspired your own work as an author?

Too numerous to mention, but certainly Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Dylan Thomas, Alice Munro.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write not only what you know but what you can imagine. Empathy is essential.

Don, thank you so much for joining us today at Reader Views and sharing a bit about yourself and your work!

Thank you.


Visit his Website:

Follow him on Facebook: @DonGutteridgeAuthor

Email him at:

Read our review of Lily Fairchild

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.