I first started writing in the fourth grade, and I cannot believe I am going to share this with the internet world (even though it will mainly just be you cool folks in the Smashwords community) but my first story was called "Help! I'm Trapped in the Teacher's Lounge" and the whole story consisted of a friend and me hiding in a closet... in the teacher's lounge (bet you didn't see that coming) and overhearing what they said about all of my real-life classmates. When they talked about me, it was mainly praise, of course, but I wasn't totally free of constructive-criticism: if I recall correctly, they said that I was a very sweet girl, but that I was very shy and needed to come out of my shell.
God, this is embarrassing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have two irons in the fire right now: Continuing to promote "The Shattered Genesis" and "The Bargaining Path," which are Books One and Two of the Eternity series, and writing a very racy young-adult novella that is set in the same universe as my other two books. The novella, called "All Gone," follows six rich, drug-dealing teens who discover latent supernatural abilities after a night spent gallivanting goes horribly wrong. If you have read "The Shattered Genesis" and "The Bargaining Path," then you know that Brynna and company depart Earth before a cataclysmic event destroys it, and "All Gone" is the story of five of the people who were left behind.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing to me is being able to lose myself in a world of my own creation. That answer is mad Hipster, and way existentialist, and it sounds phony, but believe me when I say that my writing is the result of my desire to escape from the real-world into a fantasy-world, even if being in that fantasy-world all the time gets me in trouble. (Because I should be paying attention to work, school, you know, typical boring adult stuff).
For someone who has been hearing, "Hellooooooo?! Pay attention! Get your head out of the clouds! Earth to Tee!" for all of my twenty-three years, the story that comes out of that cloud-gazing feels like validation for cloud-gazing in the first place.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The long answer: I DID NOT WANT TO BE CENSORED. I write that in caps to demonstrate how important this is to me. In the "Eternity" series, Brynna is dating a man twenty-five years her senior, and guess what? They have lots of sex. The book deals with mature themes that could not possibly fit into the Young Adult or even in the New Adult genre, and if I had been so fortunate as to find an agent who wanted to try to sell the book, I know I would have had to compromise the story in order to maximize its commercial success.
The same goes for "All Gone." The teens in this story are not the typical teens depicted in Young Adult novels; they are the teens that I knew and that I was (and still sort of am). If I were to go the route of traditional publishing, I would have to edit out the drugs, cursing, and under-the-clothes-touching to make it fit with the squeaky-clean image of adolescence popularly depicted in Young Adult books, but instead, I opted for gritty and awful (but strangely beautiful and touching) teenage protagonists who might deal drugs and look down upon anyone who doesn't live in a McMansion, but who also, when combined, have a HUGE capacity for goodness.
The short answer: I am a stubborn, entitled millenial, and my work will not be anything but what I want it to be, damn it!
Who are your muses?
At the risk of sounding like a creeper, I will say that I based the character of James off of Robert Downey Jr. He is sarcastic, hilarious, smart, and painfully good-looking, and as any RDJ fangirl knows, RDJ owns all four of those qualities. I didn't necessarily base Adam off of Daniel Day-Lewis, but that's who I picture when I write him. (Because Daniel Day-Lewis is beautiful.)
At the risk of sounding like a narcissist, I will say that I based the character of Brynna off of many different facets of my personality, though she is way meaner than me and also way smarter. And way cooler. And way less modest.
At the risk of sounding like a social satirist, I will say that I based the teenage characters in "All Gone" on various teens I have known (and been) throughout my life, but their negative qualities are amplified to show the vanity, shallowness, and callousness of adolescence. (I know, I know, go ahead, roll your eyes at the arrogance and hipster-ness of that statement. Your eye-roll is warranted.)
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Bel Air, a suburb about forty-five minutes outside of Baltimore, Maryland. It's not the place that influenced me, but the people. My parents divorced when I was ten, and for ten years, it was not pretty. As I am writing Brynna's back-story, I am consciously trying to write a family that is crazier than my own.
And that is as personal as I get.
What do your fans mean to you?
I have very few as it stands currently, but the ones that I do have are everything, truly. When I see people saying that they can't wait for the next book in the Eternity series, or when I see those 5-star reviews, I work even harder to write faster, but also to write the best story for my fans. I might only have 5 fans in the world, but those five fans are the second-biggest reason I write. (The first reason is that I love doing it!)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
As I am writing this, I am actually supposed to be writing a paper for my Satire class. I am a full-time undergraduate student for another two weeks, and then I graduate with my degree in English. When I'm not buried under paper prompts and required reading, I like reading pretty much anything for pleasure. My favorite books are The "Harry Potter" series (yes, all of them are my favorites!) "The Hunger Games" series (yes, all of them are my favorites!), "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood, and several others that I can't call to mind right now.
I also love movies (ALL movies, honestly, but I'm partial to horror (The Conjuring!) and action movies (MARVEL!!!). I love a good drama that makes me feel feelings, too, though) TV (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Sherlock, Portlandia, Arrested Development, Doctor Who, True Blood, Revenge, Sex Sent Me to the ER, etc.) and video-games (Dead Island and Bioshock are my favorites).
Obviously, I am a huge nerd.
Describe your desk
My lap is my desk, and it would be pretty awkward if I started describing my lap. In fact, it's already awkward.
How do you approach cover design?
I have an amazing best friend of twenty years/roommate who is an Information Systems and Technology (or IS) Major. She designs all my covers for me using Photoshop and free stock images. I love the covers she makes because they are understated and elegant in their simplicity. She is the most talented person I know.
She might be dictating to me what to write right now. Just kidding, she's the best.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has contributed to my success by continually promoting both of my books. I did not expect for nearly two-hundred copies of the sequel to be downloaded in the first week, but here we are, and that is amazing. Without Smashwords, I never would have been able to price-match at Amazon, nor would I be able to offer my books for free at the other online retailers. I always Tweet it, but I'll say it here, too: I really dig Smashwords because it took the limited platform through which I was distributing before and expanded it to various different channels. Without Smashwords, I would not have enjoyed this modest (but very exciting) success.
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