Q: What gives you inspiration for your writing?
A: I think, like a lot of authors, that I take inspiration from whatever I can get my paws on! Of course, I have favorite authors, paintings and artists, musicians, movies, etc., but I try to just keep an open mind and let inspiration wander where it will.
Q: Characters or plot? Which comes first? Why?
A: For me it's characters. If I don't have characters that I enjoy writing about, enjoy thinking about and living with, if I don't empathize with them in some capacity, then I don't give a hoot about the plot. If I don't care about the people in my stories, then why would I care what happens to them? That's my rationale.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: There are so many! But if I absolutely must narrow it down, I would say Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series. Time-traveling, historical, epic romance saga - the characters are some of the richest I've ever come across. Her historical facts are always meticulously researched, and her settings are so rich and vibrant that after I finish one of her novels, I feel that I've been living in another century. Some seriously brilliant writing. Plus, the romance is so good it just breaks my heart. Also, I like William Shakespeare (over 500 years and still going strong!), John Keats, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and J. K. Rowling.
Q: What sort of setting do you prefer when writing?
A: I really like writing around people, a cup of coffee in hand, and music playing unobtrusively in the background. It's hard for me to write at home where I have so many distractions via the internet, my cell phone, my guitar, and I can't write when I'm listening to music that I know because I'll just start singing along and forget to write.
Q: Which genre would you like to write in that you haven't yet?
A: I would love to do an historical novel. But I would be completely stubborn about it. I would want to travel to wherever it was set and research the history of the town and the area, plus I'd want to do months and months of extensive research to make sure that I knew as much as I could about that era and its people. So part of me is in love with the idea of an historical romance, and part of me is daunted by it.
Q: Which genre, if any, would you never write in?
A: Not that I don't enjoy non-fiction, quite the contrary, but I don't ever see myself writing in this genre. I would try to squeeze in too many embellishments.
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of reading and writing? Any activities that help you get in the mood for writing?
A: Why yes, I do! I play guitar and cello, and I sing. Nothing is more rejuvenating for my soul than a family get-together where we play board games all day, fix a delicious dinner and then play music through the night. It really helps for me to have more than one creative outlet so that when I'm feeling too bogged down or stuck with my current work in progress, I can just play a little music and get in the writing mood again. Something else that helps me when I'm wrestling with the plot or having difficulty with dialogue is to take a long walk in the sunshine. The fresh country air, the trees, the rivers, the tall grasses, and the flowers really get my synapses a-firing.
Q: If you could trade places with one person for a day, dead or alive, who would it be?
A: Vivien Leigh. She is my favorite actress and has the most exquisite, timeless beauty. Plus, she was extremely smart, witty and an actress ahead of her time. If I could get away with it, all my heroines would look like Vivien Leigh.
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
A: Well, I do love Texas, probably more than any other place I've been or lived, but that's because I grew up here. If I was going to live in a foreign country, it would have to be either Oxford, England for its picturesque beauty, rich history and the Bodeleian Library or somewhere in Provence, France where the lavender fields stretch for miles and the salty sea air is always blowing.
Q: What's the best advice you've ever been given about writing?
A: I follow a lot of author, agent and publisher's blogs, plus try to talk to people about writing as much as possible and so have heard all sorts of advice regarding writing - how to get published, how to make your characters come to life on page, how to write that kick-butt opening line, how to stay sane while writing, etc. But I am very hard on myself and my writing. I am never happy with what I've written. When I go back to re-read and edit, self-doubt really takes over until I start to hate every word I've written. Because of this, the advice that always sticks with me and gives me the most courage as a writer is to not compare myself with others, to write something I would want to read not what I think other people want to read, and to always remember how unbelievably lucky I am to be doing what I am doing.
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