Jacqui Nelson’s North of the Border with guest M. A. Clarke Scott

Who’s next on my North of the Border guest blog series? Today we have M. A. Clarke Scott, author of the Having it All series!

Where does M. A. get her inspiration? How is Canada part of her inspiration? Read on and see...

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I suppose all writers put bits and pieces of themselves in their fiction. It might be events or anecdotes from their lives, or inspiration from family history such as Vanessa Grant shared in a recent post here.

One of the things about being a Canadian writer is how we sometimes feel as though we “don’t count” next to our giant neighbour to the south. There are just so many more readers in the US that telling stories set in Canadian locations was always deemed inadvisable, since, it was presumed, most readers would be unfamiliar with our cities, provinces and wild places. 

West Vancouver - photo courtesy of Unsplash
As an indie author, I chose early on to set my Having it All series in my home city of Vancouver, BC. It’s a place unparalleled in beauty, and holds its own in terms of climate, liveability, cultural amenities and recreational opportunities with any other place on the planet. Setting books here also meant I didn’t need to do research but could draw on my own experience and focus on telling the stories. 

So far the series includes Reconcilable Differences and Disruption by Design, and book three in the series is well on its way to completion.

Reconcilable DifferencesAmazon & Kindle UnlimitedPrint Books 
Disruption by DesignAmazon & Kindle Unlimited, Print Books 

This series involves a connected network of characters that mostly walk on stage in the first book. Each story is a standalone Romantic Women’s Fiction novel that explores the challenges modern women face while trying to deal with their pasts, find their place, fulfill themselves and balance career, family and love while feeling overwhelmed and having to make difficult choices.

In book two, Disruption by Design (though I’m considering changing its title and cover soon so watch for that!) my heroine is ambitious hard-working architect Alexa Jenner. Her love-hate interest is Bruce Kosczynski, a millionaire computer programmer who’s enjoying the good life, living on his beautiful sailboat, Belle Étoile, while renovating a heritage house he just bought on the slopes of West Vancouver.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash
In this story, I was able to branch out from the city of Vancouver proper to explore the gorgeous coastal neighbourhood where I spent the past 25 years. I wanted Bruce to live on the North Shore so that I could share some of my own lifestyle adventures, including renovating an old heritage house, and spending long, leisurely days, weekends and summer vacations sailing around the Gulf of Georgia on a sailboat. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash
Since my background, like my heroine Alexa’s, is in architecture, of course I gave Bruce a more important old house than our own to renovate. In fact I drew on one of the most significant and inspiring schools of design that represent the quintessential spirit of living here. Known as the West Coast style, innovative, woodsy houses designed by some of the best early designers in our region are found nestled into the rugged forested slopes around West Vancouver. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Vancouver

These buildings emphasize the natural attributes of site, including trees, rocks, slopes and panoramic ocean views, into their designs. They celebrate the environment by creating fluid connections between inside and outside, and take on shapes and use natural materials to emphasize this connection. One of the best of these architects was Ron Thom (you can read about him and see some of his work here: https://modernvancouverhouses.com/tag/ron-thom/)

Architecture of Ron Thom
The architecture of Ron Thom
The little house I gave to Bruce to renovate is of course fictional, but drew inspiration from several of Ron Thom’s actual designs. 

My architectural background gives me an advantage when choosing and describing the built environment in my novels. Some authors draw maps and plans of their spaces so they don’t get confused, or ‘paint’ themselves into untenable or illogical corners. I have a pretty good sense of space right inside my head that helps me avoid problems. More than that, of course, I love to share my experience and perspective with readers who may get a little extra from the places where my stories are set.

In addition to buildings, I love to take advantage of the spectacular natural setting here on the West Coast of Canada to lend vividness and richness to my story settings. Flowing from the design vocabulary and philosophy of the West Coast style designers, I chose to expand the setting of Disruption by Design to include both the sea, through a sailing (mis) adventure, and the nearby Gulf Islands that dot the Strait of Georgia (a continuation of the San Juan islands north west of Seattle for those who might be familiar with the West Coast.). 

I chose Denman Island for my hero’s mother’s place, where the characters make a fateful visit in the last part of the book. I’m pretty familiar with Denman, and it also lent itself very well to my story, the unique west coast community easily accommodating both Bruce’s artsy-hippy mother, his eccentric, colourful step-dad and the opportunity for a spiritual retreat for my heroine Alexa. The themes of “oneness with nature” and “going with the flow” from the architectural lessons above continue as Alexa evolves.

There aren’t many places on earth like Denman Island, and it again captures so well those unique qualities of the Pacific Northwest that those of us who live here treasure: the natural beauty, the mountains and the ocean, and something less tangible in the people who live here, like some of those characteristics of the old hippies, back-to-landers, artists and spirit seekers that gave us our nickname of ‘Lotusland.’

I hope you pick up and read Disruption by Design and fall in love with the sense of place I tried to capture in this story about family, home and belonging.

Thanks for reading!


Comment below (until April 27) for a chance to win a signed limited edition print ARC of Reconcilable Differences (including errata!)

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A Forged Affair (Life is a Journey series)
An exciting and romantic adventure set in the south of France
For more info, visit M. A.'s website or view the book on Goodreads

Single Dad in Studio 7D
A brand new novel available FREE exclusively to M. A.'s VIP Reader list subscribers
For more info, visit M. A.'s website or view the book on Goodreads  

The Art of Enchantment (Life is a Journey series)
Chatelaine Grand Prize winner

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M. A. Clarke Scott set out to write engaging stories that walk a tight rope between intelligent Women's Fiction and heart-warming Romance, and it's caused her nothing but trouble since, beginning with what to call it. In truth, she writes Romantic Women’s Fiction about women healing from past wounds as they define and achieve their own personal happily ever afters.

Chatelaine Grand Prize winner The Art of Enchantment is first in the Life is a Journey series about young women abroad who discover themselves and fall in love while getting embroiled in other people's problems. Reconcilable Differences is first in the Having It All series about professional women in Vancouver struggling to balance the challenge and fulfillment of career with the search for identity, love, family and home.

Clarke Scott lives on beautiful Vancouver Island, Canada with her husband and two cats. Although she knows she lives in Paradise, she still loves traveling the world in search of romance, art, good food and new story ideas.

Get M. A.'s newsletter and never miss a new release! Receive FREE short stories and bonus reads by signing up at www.maryannclarkescott.com. Download today- Birdwatching, Interrupted, Reconcilable Differences Deleted Scenes and a sneak preview of her latest release Disruption by Design! Stay in touch to hear about special deals and her next release- A Forged Affair.

Connect and follow on social media too!
Website: www.maryannclarkescott.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/M.-A.-Clarke-Scott/e/B01KPSGXNO
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15160160.M_A_Clarke_Scott
Instagram: www.instagram.com/maclarkescottauthor
Bookbub Author page: www.bookbub.com/profile/m-a-clarke-scott
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/authorMACS
Twitter: twitter.com/maclarkescott

Join M.A.'s FB "In Crowd" for book chat & video

~ All pictures (except for the 1st) are supplied by today’s guest with their assurance of usage rights. 


  1. A lot to be inspired by.


  2. sounds interesting
    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  3. Love the pictures and the books sound great.


  4. Thank you Rita! I hope you decide to give the books a try.