Q: What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?
A: Charles Bukowski liked Cutty Sark. Sure, an argument could be made that it barely kept him sane, but I find that hardcore exercise is the best stress reliever. Does that make me a bigger freak than Bukowski? Probably. I consider myself lucky: I get to write and I get to teach yoga, Pilates, and weight-lifting to lots of people who like those things as much as I do. Also, it's wise to cultivate a really thick skin. Not a skin, actually, but a hide.
Q: What's a typical day like for you?
A: Most mornings, I wake up with a cat on my head. Then I stumble out of bed like a failed suicide victim and herd my kids to school. The drive is punctuated by tears, bickering about who gets to sit in the front seat, and aggressive scowling.
After I slow the car down to about 15 mph and roll the kids out, I teach fitness classes at the gym. This is fun. Fitness junkies tend to travel in packs, like velociraptors, so there's sometimes a lunch where we talk about hot guys and maybe eat a packet of Splenda.
When the kids are fed, hosed down, and their fangs brushed, that's when I go to the hottest party in town: the one in my head. I write and let my characters do what I wish I could if maybe there wasn’t a cat on my head.
Q: How can you call yourself a romance writer when you don't even like weddings?
A: Weddings—my own or anyone else's—tend to make me break out in hives. I'm a long-term commitment girl, but you better not put a ring on it because I might just gnaw off my own finger. While it's true that I think weddings are a death camp in costume, I do believe in love. Especially mad hot erotic love that is powerful enough to transcend time and space and make you forget your name and speak in tongues and twirl a baton and...well, you know.
Q: Besides Trent Reznor, who's your biggest celebrity crush?
A: Christian Bale as Batman is delicious. So is James Marsters—Spike on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." Anyone who has seen that man without his shirt on would agree. When it comes to love, Spike is never afraid to just put it on the line, which is sooooo sexy. Plus, you could grate a block of sharp cheddar on his abs.
Q: Who would play you in a film of your life?
A: Hmmm...Neil Patrick Harris with a boob job? I've always said that I was a gay man trapped in a woman's body. Well, if I could cast it, Gloria Steinem. If Hollywood cast it, Pamela Anderson.
Q: Ah, ha, so you're a feminist, then! How do you reconcile feminism with writing books aboutromance?
A: Well, most feminists have vaginas. Some vaginas like men. Others prefer a carton of Lucky Strikes, a double Scotch, and back issues of Vanity Fair, but mine never wanders far from the "men" camp. Being a feminist doesn't mean I hate men. I love men. But I also believe that women have been given short shrift for a lot of years now, and we need to correct that imbalance.
Q: I heard a rumor that you write all your novels longhand and not on a computer. True?
A: True. I do better when there isn't a machine between me and the creative product. It's literally more of a "hands on" approach.
Q: So if you basically work all the time, whether it's writing or sweating at the gym or being amom, what do you do for fun?
A: What is this word "fun"? I might have a dim recollection of it. Is it a noun? A verb? Can it make coffee or balance a checkbook? Oh, no, wait a minute—"fun" is that thing that other people have!
Q: Who is your favorite author?
A: Edith "Goddess of the Written Word" Wharton. She authored, among others, The Age of Innocence, House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and my personal favorite, Summer, which was written as a companion piece to Ethan. For her, wealth was less Gilded Age and more Gilded Cage, I suspect, since she felt stifled by high society. Her ignorance of sex was appalling (her mother referred to it only vaguely when Edith married in her early twenties). In her mid-forties, after years of a desperately unhappy marriage and several nervous breakdowns, she had a one-night stand with a charming bisexual who then inspired her magnificent poem, "Terminus," My love for Edith Wharton's talent is nothing short of worshipful. I wish I could dig her up and make her write more stuff.
Q: What's your favorite character archetype in literature?
A: I love, love, love strong, dark, brooding, obsessive men. In real life, they tend to be stalkers with mommy issues and drinking problems, but in books, they're Heathcliff, Mr. Darcy, Atticus Finch. Give me a man with an emotional wound any day, and I'll give you a romantic hero.
Q: When you write, do the words just come naturally or do you struggle like regular humans?
A: I'm trying to remember who said, "Writing is staring at a blank sheet of paper until a spot of blood appears on your forehead." Well, that's me doing the "Butt In Chair" thing that writers must commit to if they want to meet a deadline. Most of us don't have the luxury of waiting for inspiration. But...there are those days, and blessed they are, indeed, when the words just flow. What's tough is the start/stop rhythm of being a writer when you're also a parent. Children rarely afford you the luxury of a complete thought. But they're pretty cute, and you love them more than life itself, so what are you going to do?
Q: If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?
A: That all human souls on this planet know compassion for every living thing, especially each other. That educators are granted the kinds of salaries we pay celebrity athletes. And that I get one week in Aruba with a perfectly sober Christian Bale and a big bottle of Viagra.
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