What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean everything to me! Writing can be such a lonely craft, and there are times when I am so frustrated with the story or the characters, and I wonder if it’s even worth writing anymore. Then a fan will send me an encouraging word, like telling me how much one of my stories meant to them, and I remember why I’m doing this – to make a difference, and to share a glimpse of hope in human experiences. Without fans, I’d still have reason to write. But it would hold so much less meaning than it does with people who love my stories and want more of them.
What are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on the third and final installment of my Forever After series – the prequel to A Symphony of Cicadas and Forever Thirteen. Admittedly, I’m totally struggling with this one, as I have to be very careful how the story unfolds since all the events happen before stories already told. Following that, I have a rough draft of a story I wrote years ago and set aside, and I’m itching to dive into it and make it a book!
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Anne Lamott. I love her blatant honesty in her memoirs, and how she uses her personal experiences in her fiction. She’s such a bare bones writer, and a truly wonderful woman. I also love a slightly unknown author named Tim Farrington, who as far as I can tell, has stopped writing books unfortunately. He wrote The Monk Downstairs, and is so delicate in his descriptions, I just want to live in his stories. And I love Elizabeth Gilbert and Alice Sebold, both of whom wrote life changing books I have read over and over again. And my first love in novelists would be Ernest Hemingway, who stole my heart with the book Old Man and the Sea, and watered my writing plant so that all I wanted to be was an author.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Would it be too cliche to say writing? There are so many other facets of my life, mostly my family. But the reason I am an early riser is because my laptop and the growing story on it is calling to me. That, and coffee.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m a mom and stepmom to three awesome kids, and married to the most wonderful man. My family is my everything. We have a crazy dog who I just recently found out is an Australian Kelpie mix, but is mainly a mutt. I love taking him for walks, particularly in the evening when the frogs in our neighborhood creek are singing their loudest. I work at a newspaper where I used to write a column that told all of my family’s stories, particularly the stories of my youngest son who is kind of an adorable troublemaker (see Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows). That gig ended, though, and I mostly just help maintain the websites, though I still occasionally share my writing on the online newspaper. I am part of our region’s writing group called Redwood Writers, and I am their newsletter editor and social media maven. And I am heavily involved with a summer camp, and am one of the people who help plan and coordinate it. All this on top of writing a novel. You could say I enjoy being busy. 🙂
How do you discover the eBooks you read?
Often, it’s from recommendations from my friends. I think that’s the biggest way most books are shared. Someone will be buzzing about this great book they’ve read, and their interest entices interest from others. And then it spreads like wildfire. It’s my hope that one day I can present a book to readers that they can’t stop talking about.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was about a princess in her castle. That’s all I remember. I was in first grade, and it probably sucked. But my teacher was so awesome about it, praising me on the way I read it with emotion.
What is your writing process?
I start with an idea, and jot it down on an outline. And then when I start writing, I end up straying big time from that outline. But I still believe it’s a good idea to start with a plan, even if that plan changes. It gives me roots to go from, but when it changes, it means the characters are writing the story and not me.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My first is The Lovely Bones, and the book I referred to often as I wrote my book, A Symphony of Cicadas. I love it because I love Alice Sebold’s way with description and ethereal storytelling.
Next is Peter Pan. I love the symbolism in it about not wanting to grow up, how youth is fighting age, and Wendy’s choice. It represents all of our struggle with leaving childhood.
Then there’s Eat Pray Love. I feel like that’s such a cliche book to love, but I totally jumped on the bandwagon. It was published at a time when I was struggling within the early years of my own divorce and the confusion of the dating world, and taught me that I could find love and acceptance within my own life…or maybe Bali (thankfully, my husband ended up being a lot closer than that!)
Next is Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott. Every single word she writes is like gospel being sung to me.
And then there’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, which takes a confusing storyline and tells it in such a brilliant way that you can totally keep up. I’m not even sure how the author did it. Serious skill.
There are a zillion more books I love, too, maybe even some I love more than these. But for this moment, these are my top 5.
What inspired your latest book?
It actually started with the first book in the series, which stemmed from a vivid dream I had. I was having one of those wedding nightmares a few months before my actual wedding. In the dream, I died. But the dream didn’t end. Instead, I hung around as I watched my fiance grieve for me, and then move on. And instead of being all angry, I moved into a feeling of peace, wanting him to be happy even though I wasn’t there with him. I was so moved by this dream I woke up crying. And then I outlined the whole novel and wrote it for NaNoWriMo, and published it a few months after it was written. The rest is history! Now I am telling the story before my main character died, detailing how they fell in love.