Q: What was your inspiration for becoming a writer?
A: Reading has always been a form of escapism for me. From my earliest years I’ve found succor in the fictional world. That has translated, for me, into writing. I love to share that world with others. As an adult I had decided to return to school to obtain my Master’s degree and PhD. After being subjected to years of dry academic texts and studies I rebelled. One evening, when I should have been working on a paper, I instead began writing Amanda’s Touch. In one night I completed the first chapter and emailed it off to a friend of mine, just kind of joking around. She called me the next day, crying! As she sniffled, she demanded to know when she could read chapter two, because she couldn’t wait! This was followed by a similar reaction from my daughters and a couple of other friends and so, now, here I am!
That said… that was my ‘break’ into fictional writing. I’ve spent more than twenty years writing training and development programs and manuals. I’ve written college curriculum for, almost, a decade.
Q: What attracted you to writing this genre?
A: I’ve always been a voracious reader, and that tends to translate into writers with an imaginative sense of whimsy. I’ve wanted to write for nearly as long as I’ve been sucked into the world of fiction, so roughly from the age of eight or nine. One of my first works of fiction was a grade school assignment to create our own mythological story – after much consideration (about an hour) I decided on how hyenas, and their laugh, were created. So, obviously, from a relatively young age I was already into shapeshifters and the paranormal!
Q: Which authors make up your personal library?
A: Some contemporary favorites of mine include: Alexandra Anthony, Maya Banks, Nevada Barr, Shannon K. Butcher, Justin Cronin, Tymber Dalton, Lauren Dane, Laurann Dohner, Dianne Duvall, Cynthia Eden, Christine Feehan, Lori Foster, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Kay Hooper, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, George R.R. Martin, Stephanie Meyer, Christy Reese, Katie Reus, Sylvia Ryan, Angela Verdenius, Julie Ann Walker, J.R. Ward, Debra Webb, and Rebecca Zanetti.
My ‘classics’ library includes the complete works of Alcott, Austen, the Bronte family, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Dumas, Hawthorne, Hemingway, Homer, Mitchell, Poe, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, and Tolstoy. Yes, I’ve read them all. My father and I used to spend hours discussing them when I was a teen.
Q: What does your writing playlist look like on your mp3 player?
A: Great music to write by is a necessity. I have a wide variety of music depending on the mood I need to create. From my old 70’s-80’s favorites like The Eagles, Billy Joel, Chicago, Bon Jovi, and Springsteen to my current favorites; Daughtry, Coldplay, Matchbox Twenty, 3 Doors Down, Maroon 5, Rascal Flatts, Billy Currington, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, and Brantley Gilbert.
Q: What is your writing day like?
A: Well, it depends on several factors. Am I in the midst of writing or editing? Am I teaching online, or on-site, and how much grading or lesson planning do I need to do? Am I on ‘Mom’ duty or do I have a nurse aide available? Since my mother is totally disabled she requires 24/7 care. Am I on Memaw duty? That’s what my grandkids call me. Oh, and have I slept, at all, recently?
Typically, I’m a night owl and tend to do most of my writing between the hours of 9pm-2am. I’m up for the day between 6am-8am, depending on if I have an early class to teach, or I’m called for the glamorous ‘bed-pan duty’ for my mother.
I spend a lot of time online so, in-between my differing duties, I scan and answer emails and facebook posts as time permits. Thank God for smartphones!
Q: What’s the hardest part of writing your books?
A: Keeping the characters ‘in character’, so to speak. They have a tendency to flux and flow, like waves washing up on shore. You know the waves are coming but you never quite know exactly how high they’ll be. I find the characters sometimes want to speak or act out of turn. The personalities I originally created for them may suddenly just not fit and I look back and say “Huh! When did he/she change? What was the catalyst? And, can I bring them back around or do I need to go back and rewrite who they are as a person?” This happened with the heroine in the second book of the series especially.
I also have a tendency to second (third, or fourth) guess myself and find I must go back and change that one thing, that one thing that requires me to go back and change many other aspects of my story. This has nothing to do with outlining a story, which I don’t really do. I have it in my head and I know the story will change and grow as the characters do and I get frustrated with myself when things don’t go according to plan, or outline. So, why frustrate myself?
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: The simple answer is, yes! The more convoluted answer incorporates all sorts of thoughts from famous individuals that I did my best to incorporate in the raising of my daughters, such as; ‘That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ - Friedrich Nietzsche. ‘Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional’ -Roger Crawford. ‘There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem – Eldridge Cleaver.
So, in the case of my characters, you will find the common themes of overcoming, helping others, moving on, and ‘paying it forward’.
Q: Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
A: With my first novel, it was definitely the character. With subsequent novels it was the ‘idea’, almost immediately followed by the ‘birth’ of the character. They are too closely intertwined, in my mind, really, to be separate concepts. It was as if the light bulb lit with an, ‘Oh!’ (the idea), followed in the next millisecond by ‘That is definitely so and so’ (character name and personality) fully formed.
Q: If you could quote a line to describe yourself what would it be?
A: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do” - Eleanor Roosevelt.
We all have had challenges in our lives, and I am no exception. At one of the darkest moments in my life when I was in my twenties, an elderly female relative, who was ninety-two at the time and well known for not pulling her punches, quoted the above from Eleanor Roosevelt, and then challenged me to get a grip, learn from it, move one, and ‘pay it forward’. Then she, literally, turned me around and kicked me in the behind, ordering me to ‘get it in gear’. I still dearly miss that wonderfully tough old lady who passed away two years later after having lived a very challenging life of her own.
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