The Mesdames: Many readers know that you were a financial journalist, because Pat Tierney, the protagonist of your four mystery novels, and the financial crimes she comes up against were inspired by your work. But you’ve had many other thrilling adventures on the job. What’s one of your favorites?
Rosemary: I nearly got booted off a Royal Tour! In 1976, Queen Elizabeth II was visiting parts of eastern Canada during the Summer Olympics. Security was tight after the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
I was covering the Tour for the Montreal Star when another reporter and I showed up at what we thought was a cocktail party at Montreal’s Ritz Carleton Hotel. It turned out to be the Royal Suite where the Queen was freshening up before dinner! Officers from Scotland Yard and the RCMP were embarrassed that we had come so close to the Queen. We could have been terrorists.
The Mesdames: And today they might have shot you! What happened?
Rosemary: They escorted us down the back stairs and out into the alley. I was screaming, “Get your hands off me! I work for the Montreal Star!” The next day, I was advised to apologize to the head of Scotland Yard…or else. I refused and fortunately it blew over.
The Mesdames: You also met and interviewed a big movie star, right?
Rosemary: Yes, I once interviewed the late British actor Oliver Reed. The Montreal Star’s managing editor told me to ask Reed what he thought of Montreal women. So I did. “Well, I only arrived in Montreal last night,” Reed said, “but from what I see right in front of me, I’d say Montreal is a city of beautiful women.” And I’ve been telling that story ever since!
The Mesdames: And this interview inspired one of your recent stories.
Rosemary: Yes, I adapted Oliver Reed’s reply and included it in my story, “Hooked”, which appeared in the 2020 anthology, A Grave Diagnosis (Carrick Publishing). I haven’t used my Royal Tour adventure and perhaps I never will. Real life is often less believable than fiction!
The Mesdames: You also had an encounter with Elvis Presley.
Rosemary: Yes, I flew to Memphis in August 1977 with an airplane full of Elvis Presley fans to cover the King of Rock ’n’ Roll’s funeral for the Montreal Star. On the 40th anniversary of his death in 2017, I sat down to write “Farewell to the King”, about a young woman with a secret who travels to Memphis with her friends to pay final respects to their idol. My story appeared in the Mesdames‘ fourth anthology, In the Key of 13, in 2019.
The Mesdames: You’ve also had a secret identity and worked undercover.
Rosemary: Yes, I was a restaurant reviewer for the Calgary Herald during the 1980s. I ate at the best restaurants in and around the city. Restaurateurs feared me. A great many loathed me. I drew on my experiences for “Dining Out”, a story about an ill-fated restaurant reviewer that appeared in the Malice Domestic anthology, Mystery Most Edible, in 2019.
The Mesdames: How do your readers see you when they meet you today?
Rosemary: The years I spent as a newspaper reporter and reviewer were the most exciting years of my life. These days I keep a low-profile as a middle-aged writer and teacher – and save my energy for my fiction.
Pingback: Getting (too) close to the Queen! | Moving Target
Thank you, sweet Mesdames, for this great interview! Check out what I have to say about “Getting (too) close to the Queen!” at https://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/2021/09/18/getting-too-close-to-the-queen/