Q: What is your writing day like?
A: Weekdays, I wake at 6:30, have my first canned Starbucks Doubleshot of the day, feed our assorted beasties, and get my daughter ready for school. When I get home, I dig into wherever I am in my writing and motor through -- usually forgetting to stop for breakfast and lunch until my husband plunks a plate of something in front of me, growling about how annoying certain single-minded people are! At 2:30, I drive back to school and pick up my daughter, incorporating any errands on the way home. Then it's back to writing/editing/polishing until about 5:30, when I break off to help with homework and, once again, feed the beasties. Happily, my husband is a trained chef, whereas I'm stressed putting together Cheerios and a glass of milk. So, while hubby gets dinner ready, I figure out whatever needs to be done for the family the next day -- laundry, errands, snacks for school, etc. We eat dinner, usually in the living room -- we're very casual -- and 8:30 is our daughter's bedtime. Which means she's asleep any time between 9:00 and 10:00! Once she's down for the night, I go back to writing/editing/polishing until about 2:00 a.m. Having consumed caffeine at a steady rate all day fuels these hours, as do Skittles. Lots of Skittles.
Weekends differ because I spend most of the day working, uninterrupted, except for those days when we have volleyball practice (I'm the coach) or a family outing.
Q: Did you always want to be a writer?
A: With everything in me, yes. I wrote a number of high fantasy manuscripts when I was in college that I didn't do anything with. Packrat that I am, I still have them on their original dot-matrix printer paper. On the rare occasion I see them -- usually as I'm digging for something else -- the layers of dust always make me sneeze. Over the ensuing years, I wrote constantly, reporting on Capitol Hill, working as a newspaper reporter and editor, freelancing, writing scripts for industrials, and so on. But there's nothing in the world like writing fiction!
Q: Where do you get ideas for your stories?
A: I'd love to come up with a poetic, beautifully crafted answer, but the truth is, I have no idea. I'm just struck by . . . something.
Sometimes, it's a phrase, "It wasn't that I wanted to live forever -- I just didn't want to die." Other times, it begins with a very strong, clear image: an amnesiac, Light Fae called out of the wind by a handsome vampire who's been in love with her for centuries, lost her, and has searched for her ever since. The same is true of Shadowplay: the image of an outcast, mixed-breed Fae perched on a rooftop and observing a supernatural fight unfold on the carefully manicured lawn below her. Some books begin with a character imprinted solidly in my head, fully formed, with his or her own story. And, occasionally, a book's genesis is just one vivid scene -- like stepping into a movie filled with characters you don't yet know (my current work-in-progress).
Q: What is the best part about writing?
A: It depends what I'm doing at the time I'm asked the question! If I'm writing a new story, then I'm jazzed about creating. If I'm editing, I'm passionate about the process of making sure each word is exactly right. If I'm polishing, then I'm having a blast ensuring everything comes together. I also enjoy working with an editor, since he or she is new to the story and provides an entirely fresh view -- one that's hard for me to maintain, since the story and characters have been living in my head for months by that point.
Q: What do you like to read?
A: It's in my family's genetic code that we don't leave the house without a book, even if we're just going to the corner for a gallon of milk. Consequently, there are a lot of authors I enjoy and a handful I genuinely adore. Karen Marie Moning (the Fever series' characters are deep deep deep under my skin), Patricia Briggs (beautiful, clean writing that says so very much, so very well), and Karen Chance (I adore her sense of humor) are at the absolute top of my list. I love trading zombie books with my big brother and debating end-of-the-world, zombie-pocalypse, what-would-you-do-if scenarios.
Q: Do you ever use music for inspiration?
A: Absolutely. For Roddie's fiddle playing, I listened to the incredible band, Scythian. Stop the Show, Immigrant Stomp, and Tammlin are some of my favorite "Roddie" songs. Scythian is incredible and the guys never take shortcuts with their music. Fiddler Alex Fedoryka is one of the finest musicians I've ever heard -- I'm convinced no one can match him, whether he's double-bowing, trilling, or playing at vampire-speed, all the while dancing and whirling around the stage with incredible, infectious joy. He's also pretty easy to look at!
Listening to Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains) helped solidify Nick's feadog pipe playing. The man is supernaturally gifted and I was so inspired, that I bought a pipe online from a Dublin store and tried to teach myself to play it. While I can manage piano and sax, my pipe playing resembles a dying sparrow. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.
Davey Spillane's Caoineadh Cu Chulainn (a lament for Ireland's great hero, Cu Cuchulain) played on a loop while I wrote Mia's emotional breakdown; by the second playing, I was writing through tears and was in a funk for days.
No matter what I'm working on, many other songs motivate me into a writing frenzy during the drive to and from school to drop off/pick up my daughter, run errands, while at the (shudder) grocery store, or in the shower -- music is almost always playing in our house or buds are stuffed in my ears. Relient K, Finger Eleven, Rob Zombie, Jasmin Tabatabai, James Yuill, The Prodigy, Shiny Toy Guns, and The Killers top my list. Lately, Manfred Mann's cover of Springsteen's For You is haunting me.
Q: What's on your "to read" list?
A: My favorite authors' newest releases. When I find a new-to-me writer and love their work, I buy for my Kindle everything they've ever published. My absolute favorite of these books I also buy in paperback or hardcover, whichever is available at the time. The result is that I'll devour a series in a matter of days; for example, Karen Marie Moning's Fever books took me three days to finish, in and around my commitments, and staying up until 4:30 one night. Ahh, bliss. And, wow, was I exhausted the next day!
Q: What's an interesting fact about you that might surprise readers?
A: I love archery and fencing, although I haven't done either since college, as well as target shooting with both rifle and pistol. I've ridden horses all my life and have Andalusians -- a Spanish breed the good guys ride in movies like Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Legend, Robin Hood, Zorro, and many others. Andalusians grace tapestries and paintings throughout Europe, and are notable for their beauty, nobility, and very thick/long manes and tails. PS, I'm a total history geek.
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: From putting the first words on my computer screen to completing the final polish, it generally takes me two to three months. There are several reasons why: first, I type very fast (for kicks, I was tested once at 108 words per minute with 100% accuracy); second, I write at least ten hours a day; third, I carry my work with me and edit while my daughter is taking guitar lessons or I'm waiting for my husband at the dentist's office, etc. Look me up in the Thesaurus and you'll find synonyms like persistent, relentless, obsessed . . .
Q: How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
A: On the nonfiction side, I've authored one (published) and was a contributing writer for another (published). In fiction, I've written five books, three of which will be published in the next six months. My favorite book is always the one I just finished, probably because it's still so fresh in my head.
Q: Which character is your favorite?
A: It would be easier to say what I love most about each character than to pick one character out of the lineup. For instance, I love Mia's courage and how she never gives up. I love Roddie's gentle stubbornness, kind sense of humor, and fierce loyalty for those he cares about. I enjoy Amenenhep's ancient boredom, and how it makes him so unpredictable and dangerous. I really like Amalie's snarkiness and the way Nick is the group's heart, smoothing over rough spots, uniting them in enduring friendship. I could go on, but the answer would run for pages!
Q: Which character is most like you?
A: Okay, I can easily imagine my mother perking up with interest, wanting to see how I answer this one! I could divert the answer by saying that I like first-person best, which requires putting myself into the character's head and having a good look around. I could say, truthfully, that there are parts of me in each of the heroines. But, of them all, Amalie is most like me, since she says and does all the things that float around in my mind, but that my Southern upbringing prohibit me from expressing.
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