Q: What is your writing day like?
A: I’m not a morning person, so I get up around 8 and read for a few hours before my brain can get into writing mode. I go for a long walk around noon to get my muscles working for a little bit. I’ve learned the hard way I write best in the afternoon, when the sun is at its peak, so I start around 1 p.m. and work until the sun sets. Evenings are mostly for socializing with friends, but sometimes, if I’m really inspired, I can work straight through until bedtime.
Q: What made you want to become a writer?
A: My parents were reading to me from the moment they brought me home from the hospital—well before I had any understanding of what was going on in the world around me. I’ve grown up with stories, and as soon as I learned to write, I wanted to tell my own. I wrote my first short story when I was five, and I’ve been honing my craft ever since.
Q: How did you come to acquire a pet alligator?
A: Priscilla was one of a cache of gators owned by a company that provided stunt animals for movies, television shows, and commercials. Unfortunately, all the animals there were being kept under inhumane conditions. An animal rights group blew the whistle, but of course, then they had to find places for the animals to go. I’ve always loved gators, and since Priscilla was already trained, I got a license to own an alligator, and I adopted her.
Q: How do you care for Priscilla?
A: I invested a good chunk of change into creating safe, comfortable habitats for her at both of my homes. I also spend a lot of money on meat! She enjoys fish, chicken, turkey—pretty much any sort of animal protein. Priscilla is a lot of work, but she’s worth it.
Q: Geography is very important to your writing. Why is that?
A: Cities and towns have personalities, just like people do. My greatest inspirations come from getting immersed somewhere, whether it’s a big city or a tiny campground in the middle of nowhere. Establishing a sense of place is just as important as plot development, so I take care to have my characters interact in the areas they live. Geography informs a great deal of who a character is, so watching them in either familiar or unfamiliar environments is, for me, an essential way to develop them as people.
Q: Voodoo figures heavily into your Shifters of Alligator Bend series. What attracts you to voodoo?
A: I’m not actually a voodoo practitioner, but I think the belief system is fascinating, and I really enjoy writing rituals into these books. Voodoo is a very positive, nature-oriented form of spirituality. It only made sense that my gators, who are so connected to the bayou in which they live, would practice voodoo to protect New Orleans, the swamps, and themselves.
Q: What are some other things that inspire you?
A: My friends are a tremendous source of inspiration. I don’t base characters off of people in real life, but some of our best conversations have worked their way into my books. I also keep a small notebook of important, funny, or interesting things that have happened to me that might be useful for later. The scene in Galatoire’s in the upcoming Bayou Flood, for example, is based on something that actually happened to me. It’s one of my favorite New Orleans memories, and I was very excited to work it into my fiction.
Q: What is the best writing advice you’ve been given?
A: Write what you know, but then do research to fill in the blanks, expand your horizons, and correct your mistakes.
Q: What are your hobbies? How do you decompress after a day of writing?
A: I enjoy anything that gets me out into nature, especially sailing and camping. Most of my weekends are spent outdoors, soaking up the sun and observing wildlife. I also enjoy going dancing or doing yoga after a long day of writing. If I have a serious case of writer’s block, I like to bake bread. Something about kneading dough works out all the kinks in my inspiration.
Q: What is your favorite book or film with alligators in it?
A: I have one of each! Elmore Leonard’s mystery novel Alligator is a fun read. As for movies, Adaptation is my all-time favorite film, and even though an alligator makes only a brief appearance, the animal is used to great dramatic effect.
Q: Who are your favorite writers who don’t write about alligators?
A: I enjoy reading from a variety of genres. In terms of romance authors, I love reading the works of Edith DuBois, Elle Saint James, Helena Ray, and Mellanie Szereto. I also enjoy the science fiction of Octavia E. Butler and the fantasy of Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Q: What do you have planned after the Shifters of Alligator Bend series is finished?
A: Once I’ve resolved everything in the bayou, I plan to write some books set in Texas. I’m looking forward to writing about a state with so many diverse geographical elements. Especially because Houston has a nice bayou area…meaning it’s possible that I’ll have a chance to write about gators again.
Please enable Cookies to use the site.
When Cookies are enabled, please reload the page