09 May 2017

The most important thing in the world

  Family Fortnight +   Leading up to the International Day of Families on the 15th of May, we bring you the eleventh in a series about mystery writers’ take on families. Settle back and enjoy!

by Melissa Yi

“Mom. You don’t spend enough time with us.”

“I finished the Wimpy Kid book and read most of Big Nate to you!” I told my grade one daughter, Anastasia, and my grade five son, Max, in turn. He likes Wimpy Kid too, but he’s finished them already.

“You’re always on your computer.”

“Right. Right. When I’m done, I’ll play with you.”

“But you’re never done!”

This is true. And yet, somehow we manage, much like Melodie Campbell pointed out. Still, there’s a reason that I grabbed Ayelet Waldeman’s book, Bad Mother, and ripped through it. I’d already enjoyed her Mommy Track mysteries, long before I had kids.

On the other hand, there’s this:

Anastasia: I wrote a book!

Me: Wow, that’s really good. I like the first three pages.

Anastasia: Now, you draw one page, Mommy.

Me: Oh, okay. I see it’s all blond girls. Let me draw one with brown skin.

Anastasia: I don’t like people with brown skin.

Me: But that’s us! That means you don’t like us. Clearly, we need to hang around with more brown people. [I draw a brown girl anyway.]

Max: Do you want to sell your book?

Anastasia: Okay.

Max: I’ll give you 24 cents.

Anastasia: Okay.

Mixed feelings. On one hand, my kids have learned to make, sell, and buy books. On the other hand, I obviously have to work on race relations and self-love.

“That character is obviously Max,” said my husband, after reading about Kevin. “He takes off his pants and squashes your blanket? No contest.”

“That’s me,” said Max.

But actually, I started writing Hope’s little brother after I graduated from residency, years before I had him. It’s scary how long I’ve take to write these books, since now Max is older than Kevin, who’s turning nine. But he has definitely been incorporated into Kevin. When I was working with Kobo on a promotional campaign, the creative guy said, “I don’t know what eight-year-old boys like,” and I said, “I’ve got you covered.”

“Where’s me?” said Anastasia.

“She doesn’t have a little sister or cousin in this series. Maybe later,” I said.

She nodded. She’s good about stuff like that.

So family and writing has a variable relationship for me. Family cuts into my time, but also inspires my writing and makes my life so much richer and more vibrant.

John Wooden says, “The most important thing in the world is family and love.”

I feel torn about this. For sure, without my family, I could have medical and writing success, and I, personally, would feel empty.

On the other hand, I truly need a room, time, and mental space of my own in order to create.

How do we balance this?

In other news, Human Remains debuted April 25 th and hit the Kobo top ten, plus I made some inroads on Amazon. Celebrate with a free copy at https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/human-remains-5 with the promo code HRemains!

If you don’t know how to use a promo code on Kobo, I made a page here: http://melissayuaninnes.com/how-to-use-a-kobo-promo-code/.

Please note that the code HRemains does not work on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon UK, Amazon international, iTunes, iTunes Canada, B&N, or Google Play, but it’s only 99 cents on all platforms today.

Speaking of human remains, here’s a photo from my Montreal launch at Librairie Bertrand. Someone asked, “How many people here are doctors?”

I said, “Half. Hey, why don’t we get the civilians to lie on the floor and the doctors can pretend to resuscitate them?”

They thought I was nuts, but they’re my friends, so…

Aren’t they awesome?
Dr. Chryssi Paraskevopoulos with author Day's Lee, who interviewed me here;
Dr. Ted Wein with author Su J. Sokol; Dr. Melissa Yi with artist Jessica Sarrazin.
Not pictured: Dr. Rob Adams and reader Maria, and artist Jason Jason de Graaf


  1. Cute kids, Melissa. What a terrific family! You amaze me with all you manage to accomplish at once. Well done!

  2. Nice post, Melissa! It's always a balance--and my wife (also a writer) and I always feel like we're not doing enough in any direction (writing, parenting, whatever). Congrats on the success with the new book!

  3. Nice post - it's so hard to find a good bone soup these days. And LOVED the photos!

  4. Interesting post, Melissa--and I love the picture of your launch party! When my daughters were growing up, I faced the sorts of dilemmas and doubts you describe. It's always a struggle, and we can probably never be sure we've found the right balance. But my daughters like having a mother who writes--I think it's helped motivate them to write, too--and as they got older, they've contributed more and more to my writing. I think, in the long run, my writing helped make our family closer. I'll be writing about that on Saturday.

  5. Melissa, good article. Enjoyed it.

  6. Oh my, do I relate. In my case, trying to finish a humour column on deadline while sitting on the bathroom floor, kid on the other side of the door, asking am I 'done yet?'
    I never really knew if my balance was good. It seemed to morph day by day. But those years taught me one thing: if you want to write, you have to make it your third most important thing. After Family. After day-job. But then before anything and everything else. It's still true today.

  7. @Leigh, thanks! I do love their little faces (and the rest of them). I can't like, I face some multi-tasking SNAFU's, but I try to get some of the job done. Thanks for the encouragement.

  8. @Art, yes, I think part of the problem with multiple responsibilities is that you can feel like a failure at all of them, even when you're not. Keep up the good work as a writer/husband/parent!

  9. @Eve, do you have a good bone soup recipe? ;) It wouldn't surprise me. You're a multitalented woman. Thanks! Love my little babies.

  10. @B.K., it is encouraging to see what you and your daughters have accomplished. In the end, we just do what we can, right? I look forward to your article on Sunday.

  11. @Melodie, I remember a paediatrician saying that she locked herself in the bathroom and jammed her back against the wall while her two boys pounded at door, trying to get in.
    I agree that prioritizing writing is the only way to make sure it gets done. After a few years, your kids will grow up and manage not to hit their heads on everything, but year in and year out, consistent writing hones your skills and teaches them to give you a teaspoon of individuality.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>