Valerie McCormick, Hero of Dead Witness by Joylene Nowell Butler

Bertram: What is your story?

Valerie: I witnessed the execution of two FBI agents while I was in Seattle, and the FBI kidnapped me so that my family and the killers believe I’m dead.

Bertram: Who are you?

Valerie: Valerie McCormick, wife & mother, bookkeeper.

Bertram: Where do you live?

Valerie: Prince George, B.C. Canada is where my family are. I’m stuck in Santa Cruz, Cal.

Bertram: Are you the hero of your own story?

Valerie: I’m not a hero, but I do believe you have to fight for those you love. My girls think I’m a hero though. They’ll understand once they have their own children, that I’m just a mum.

Bertram: What is your problem in the story?

Valerie: The FBI are failing to convince the killers that I’m dead, and those bad men may go after my children.

Bertram: Do you have a problem that wasn’t mentioned in the story?

Valerie: I don’t think so.

Bertram: Do you embrace conflict?

Valerie: I wouldn’t say “embrace” is accurate. I can cope.

Bertram: Do you run from conflict?

Valerie: Running never solves anything.

Bertram: How do you see yourself?

Valerie: I think I’m a good mother, a good person. I try not to judge others.

Bertram: How do your friends see you?

Valerie: They say I’m good company. And I listen well.

Bertram: How do your enemies see you?

Valerie: I hope I don’t have any. I guess the men trying to kill me are my enemies. They don’t know me.

Bertram: How does the author, Joylene Nowell Butler, see you?

Valerie: Joylene accepts me the way I am. She even says she wishes she were more like me. That’s sweet. She told me to tell you that Dead Witness went to press 2 weeks ago for the second time and should be available at Chapters.Indigo and bookstores across Canada by the end of November, 2008.

Bertram: Do you think Joylene portrayed you accurately?

Valerie: Yes, we’ve gotten to know each other very well over the past 15 years. I think too well maybe. I have no secrets left.

Bertram: What do you think of yourself?

Valerie: I’m a good mother. I strive to be a good example always.

Bertram: Do you have a hero?

Valerie: My brother. He raised me after our parents were murdered. FBI agent Mike Canaday. But please don’t tell him I said that.

Bertram: Do you have a goal?

Valerie: I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my children safe, even if I have to pretend I’m dead.

Bertram: What are your achievements?

Valerie: I raised 3 wonderful girls. I coached softball and we’ve won the trophy the last three years. Not that winning is everything. I finished the marathon.

Bertram: Do you talk about your achievements?

Valerie: No, I think it’s more important to be an example.

Bertram: Do you keep your achievements to yourself?

Valerie: Yes, unless talking to my girls about them makes life easier for them.

Bertram: Do you have any special strengths?

Valerie: Losing my parents at such an early age, helped to prepare me for what’s happening now.

Bertram: Do you have any special weaknesses?

Valerie: I’m growing fond of Canaday. I can’t see how that’s a good thing.

Bertram: Do you have any skills?

Valerie: I can write. I like working with people.

Bertram: Do you have money troubles?

Valerie: Other than our business failing? No.

Bertram: What do you want?

Valerie: I want to believe that Canaday knows what he’s doing, keeping me from my children.

Bertram: What do you need?

Valerie: I need to go home and fight the killer on my own terms.

Bertram: What do you want to be?

Valerie: I’m 38. It’s a little late for that.

Bertram: What do you believe?

Valerie: I believe God has a plan. I don’t know what it is. I just have faith everything is for a reason.

Bertram: What makes you happy?

Valerie: Hearing my children laugh. Seeing their smiles. Being there when they understand something for the first time.

Bertram: What are you afraid of?

Valerie: I’m afraid I’ll never see my girls again.

Bertram: What makes you angry?

Valerie: That I’m relying on strangers to protect my children. That should be my job.

Bertram: What makes you sad?

Valerie: When people hurt each other for no apparent reason other than they can.

Bertram: What do you regret?

Valerie: I regret that I never told my parents I was sorry. I thought I’d have time.

Bertram: What is your biggest disappointment?

Valerie: That Ed won’t accept me for who I am. He’s been trying to turn me into someone else since our wedding day.

Bertram: What, if anything, haunts you?

Valerie: My parents murder. I have nightmares about that night.

Bertram: Are you lucky?

Valerie: Blessed.

Bertram: Have you ever failed at anything?

Valerie: My marriage hasn’t been good for a long time.

Bertram: Has anyone ever failed you?

Valerie: When I was young, I thought my parents had by dying.

Bertram: Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Valerie: Not that I’m aware.

Bertram: Have you ever failed anyone?

Valerie: I feel as if I’ve failed my girls. I should be with them.

Bertram: Have you ever betrayed anyone?

Valerie: No.

Bertram: Do you keep your promises?

Valerie: I try very hard to.

Bertram: Are you honorable?

Valerie: I think so.

Bertram: Are you healthy?

Valerie: Very. Thank God.

Bertram: Do you have any handicaps?

Valerie: No.

Bertram: Do you have any distinguishing marks?

Valerie: No.

Bertram: What was your childhood like?

Valerie: It was fine. My parents were wonderful. My brother did his best after they were gone.

Bertram: Do you like remembering your childhood?

Valerie: Yes.

Bertram: Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?

Valerie: I don’t know.

Bertram: Did you get along with your parents?

Valerie: Yes, until I turned fourteen.

Bertram: What in your past had the most profound effect on you?

Valerie: Losing my parents.

Bertram: What in your past would you like to forget?

Valerie: Those few months after they died was pretty bad. I wasn’t always very nice to my brother.

Bertram: What in your past would you like others to forget?

Valerie: I hope my brother forgets what a brat I was.

Bertram: Who was your first love?

Valerie: Tommy Framer, my childhood neighbour.

Bertram: Who is your true love?

Valerie: Don’t tell Canaday, but I suspect he is.

Bertram: Have you ever had an adventure?

Valerie: Apparently I’m on one now. It feels more like a nightmare.

Bertram: What is the most important thing that ever happened to you?

Valerie: The birth of Megan, Christine, and Brandi. They’re my life.

Bertram: Was there a major turning point in your life?

Valerie: I seem to be dwelling on this a lot: my parents murder.

Bertram: Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

Valerie: I think it’s happening now.

Bertram: Is there anything else about your background you’d like to discuss?

Valerie: No. I live in the present.

Bertram: What is your most closely guarded secret?

Valerie: My brother’s right. I shouldn’t have married Ed.

Bertram: What is your most prized possession?

Valerie: You can’t take any of this stuff with you. Nothing but life should be prized.

Bertram: Do you have any hobbies?

Valerie: Writing short stories and magazine articles. Running marathons,

Bertram: What is your favorite scent?

Valerie: I love the smell of lawn clippings. It means re-growth. A new beginning.

Bertram: What is your favorite color?

Valerie: Blue. It’s a happy colour.

Bertram: What is your favorite food?

Valerie: I love pizza. Pizza night was always so much fun. It meant I had more time to spend with my girls.

Bertram: What is your favorite beverage?

Valerie: I love water. Very cold.

Bertram: What is your favorite music?

Valerie: I love Cher’s love songs. I like the Beach Boys.

Bertram: What is your favorite item of clothing?

Valerie: My jeans. They’re so comfortable. And my PJs.

Bertram: Name five items in your purse, briefcase, or pockets.

Valerie: Hand cleaner, change purse, measuring tape, Kleenex, business cards.

Bertram: What are the last five entries in your check registry?

Valerie: Nothing very exciting: grocery store, hardware, gas station, paper boy, renew library card.

Bertram: What are the last three books you read?

Valerie: Don’t tell anyone, but I read Romance.

Bertram: If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

Valerie: Toilet paper, (4 girls in the house), bread, eggs, milk, yogurt, breakfast bars, dog treats, wrapping paper (always need some), romaine lettuce and cheddar cheese.

Bertram: If you had the power to change one thing in the world that didn’t affect you personally, what would it be?

Valerie: Stop the atrocities women are subjected to in the Middle East.

Bertram: What makes you think that change would be for the better?

Valerie: It’s the 90s and they still stone woman who commit adultery.

Bertram: If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

Valerie: I hope this doesn’t sound sexist, but I’d rather be stranded with a man with muscles. Someone not afraid of heights.

Bertram: How do you envision your future?

Valerie: If everything works out, and I’m praying it does, I see myself surrounded by giggling grandchildren.

4 Responses to “Valerie McCormick, Hero of Dead Witness by Joylene Nowell Butler”

  1. kester2 Says:

    Hi Pat, Joylene, and Valerie:

    I think Valerie sounds exactly as I pictured her in the novel. Good going and a good interview.

    Chris H.

  2. joylene Says:

    Thanks, Chris. You are very sweet.

  3. gabixler Says:

    Interesting and unique…

    I’m wondering…does a writer considered this great detail about their main character as they are writing, before, during, or afterwards?

    I’ve never seen it done before but it’s both fascinating and boring…do you know what I mean? You wouldn’t actually find out these things while reading the book, yet by boring us with trivial details, it somehow makes the character much more “alive.”

    Any places in U.S. for this book?


    • joylene Says:

      I have learned so much doing these many months. You’re right Glenda, it was boring. But educational. Dead Witness is available online at, Black Bond Books, and Books and Company at a discount re the exchange rate. I noticed it’s listed at, but I don’t believe it’s actually available. I signed with Hignell and cancelled my Lulu app.

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