What's the story behind your first book, Dolor and Shadow?
Dolor and Shadow is about Kallan, the Dokkalfar (Dark Elf) princess with magical powers so great she can destroy the gods…and they know this. To hide her from the Fae gods who seek to kill her, Kallan’s family hides her, wipes her memory, and suppress her powers. As Kallan grows up, her powers get stronger until her family can no longer hide her. When the gods move in, Kallan’s father is killed and Kallan's nemesis, King Rune, is framed. As Kallan is crowned queen, she vows to kill Rune. But the gods have launched a hunt for her head that lands Kallan and Rune in the middle of the mountains in Jotunheim. Kallan's powers are emerging, her memory is returning, and the gods are closing in. To get home and escape the gods, Kallan and Rune must set aside their differences and trek the ancient lands of Midgard back to Alfheim before their kingdoms are torn apart.
What is the story behind your most recent release, "Broken?"
Broken is creative non-fiction. This means the events really did happen. The persons involved, names, relationships, locations, and dates have all been altered, distorted, and/or changed to protect identities.
March 2015, I was asked "who am I?" Flashbacks had already started to surface. I was mentally spiraling out of control and had announced that I was moving to Ireland to live as a hermit. I had begun the preparations. Through the chaos, I decided to stop and reflect on my past to find me. Over the next two weeks, I wrote the 98,000 words that would become "Broken." I depict my childhood horrors that resulted in a number of severe psychological disorders. With Broken, I take the reader into the mind of the mentally disturbed. I used the story to answer my questions, find my identity, and evaluate my choices.
Readers are introduced to William D. Shaw, the interviewer, and Elizabeth, a hermit who has shut the world away. Elizabeth grants 24 hours to William. Within that time, she reviews the first 30 years of her life filled with rape, torture, neglect, abuse, and loneliness. Together, William and Elizabeth review the life of someone who is raised without love, family, comfort, therapy, or medication.
Through Elizabeth, I relive my own thirty years of trauma. I show readers the hyperarousal, flashbacks, and disassociation of someone with PTSD. While writing Broken, I reached my awareness and through writing, I show it all. Readers get to witness the road to awareness while it happens through Broken, and it all is based on a true story. My story.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I think every author dreams of seeing their books on the shelves of Barnes & Noble. Something about being able to point to a shelf and say, "I did that" appeals to every writer no matter where they are in the writing process. I also believe that every indie author goes through "the death of a dream" when they decide to not pursue the traditional publishing route and go indie. For me, this happened after completing months of research on publishing. I wanted to know what all my options were and I asked some very hard questions about indie publishing. I then interviewed a number of authors, from a USA Today Bestseller who had gone traditional publishing to a number of indie authors. In the end, I decided the amount of work was the same. It was all about time. Did I want to spent two years finding a publisher who may or may not take a business risk on me. I decided it wasn't worth the wait and did it myself.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I do. It was The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. The Phantom of the Opera did so much to fuel my passion for music, and French authors. I am a HUGE Jules Verne and Victor Hugo fan. There is a kind of bittersweet to Leroux's story that really encases a macabre feel. I strongly believe this...shadow...for a lack of a better word is something I took from The Phantom of the Opera and carried over into all my writing. I adore that dark antiquated almost goth feel seen in The Phantom of the Opera and I think I went on to recreate that feeling in all my writing.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes! I do. I still have it. It was an adventure about a group of seniors (12th graders) who became lost in the Bermuda Triangle while on their senior trip and they were sucked into this fantasy world. I still want to go back and revisit that story.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Watching people respond to my characters and my story. I love talking to a reader about Bergen or how engrossed in the story they became. I love seeing them as taken away by my worlds as I am. It's such a wonderful thing to share with others.
What do your fans mean to you?
The readers are everything. They are the be all end all of a writer. Without them, my words wouldn't be enjoyed. Without the reader, my story would be no different sitting in a drawer somewhere collecting dust. I love each and every one of my precious readers.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
If you had asked me this question a month ago, I would have told you gardening, music composition, and anime. I adore war movies and Star Trek. Today, I spend a lot of my time working through the issues addressed in Broken.
How do you approach cover design?
Indigo Forest Designs is my official artist. I adore the work they do for me. I hate the process of cover design. I'm a writer. Not an illustrator. To locate my cover artist, I reviewed their profile. I loved the price they offered and the quality was astounding! I gave them free range to do whatever they wanted. I described a little about what I wanted to see, but Indigo was the real visionary behind my cover. I adore what they did with it. I believe an artist flourishes when left alone with their muse.
Who are your favorite authors?
I adore the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. His words are like music that take the heart from me. He has done so much to influence my own writing.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
This question is very difficult for me to answer. I won't give details here or go into it, but "Broken" covers it all. I am a trauma survivor. For more than twenty years I was abused, tortured, and raped. After those twenty years ended, I spent the next seven years with someone who sent me into flashbacks a number of times a day. Living with me then was...impossible. My PTSD has caused me to be hyperaroused over much of the ordinary things most people are confronted with daily. A dog barking. Yelling. Loud sounds. Being touched. Someone coming up behind me. Crowds. Most movies after the 1960's. By the time I was 35, I had lived for 30 years in trauma.
Yes, this affects my writing. I write dark, macabre stories. If there is a happy ending at all, the characters must earn it if it happens at all. I am familiar with war, trauma, torture, rape, abuse, imprisonment, and horror. When I write, these experiences come through very clear. You will see this in the Dvergar caves in Dolor and Shadow.
Due to the prolonged severity of my trauma, I entered a mental state of disassociation. This is where my trauma truly influenced my writing. Disassociation is the ability to "relocate" one's mind into another scenario to escape the current trauma. I did this so often and for so long that I mastered the ability to empathize, and enter any and all fictional worlds. In the mind of disassociation, fiction becomes reality. All worlds are so vivid that I have to be very selective with what I watch and read because in my mind, I relive it. In some cases, I can not leave. I read "Finding Me" just recently, and even after three days, I can still feel the chains on me. I can smell the rooms, It's all still very vivid. Nightmares are a whole other hell for me. Many of my nightmares make their way into my writing.
When I write, I use my disassociation to relocate my senses. It makes for very evocative imagery.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My phone. I have a Galaxy S by Samsung and I downloaded the Nook and Kindle apps. I prefer the Kindle app to the Nook app. I love having my ebooks without having to carry around a bulky eReader. I have very small hands and the phone makes for an easy reading experience. The small screen doesn't bother me at all.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on a side arc of Dolor and Shadow. Bane focuses on Bergen's back story and fills in some of the questions raised in Dolor and Shadow. I hope to release Bane in December 2015. Immediately following Bane, I plan to resume work on Lorlenalin's Lies, the sequel to Dolor and Shadow. Lorlenalin's Lies picks up right where Dolor and Shadow leaves off. "Lies" requires revision work and I hope...I hope...to release in April 2016.
Describe your desk
*laughing* My desk. My desk is a mess. I have an "L" shaped corner desk equipped with your standard printer, files, and pencils holders. I adore desk toys. I have the 8 Ball (which I use for really hard plot decisions), a Rubik's cube, a rubber band ball, two slinkies, a "Panic Button" with Hoops and Yoyo, a Monkey D. Luffy anime figure, an iPod docking station queued at the moment with "Let It Go," and a Lamb Chop Ty Baby. I also have a planner, a number of books (History of Ireland, Mrs. Poe, and Patrick Rothfuss) as well as a hyacinth and a dictionary. I have an assortment of sticky notes everywhere as well as a couple humorous quote plaques that get me through the day. My desk can be seen on Instagram.
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