Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the first story I ever read but I do remember one that had a lasting impact. I was an early and voracious reader but there weren't many books in our house, so I would end up reading my older sister's novels. My sister isn't a horror fan, so I don't know why she had this book in the first place. I'm not even sure why I decided to read it because the cover alone scared me. The book was Audrey Rose and it was the story of a girl who was the reincarnation of another girl who'd died in a fire, and strange and frightening things were starting to happen to her. It terrified me. I couldn't finish it and I think I even hid it so I wouldn't have to look at the cover. Although I never could bring myself to go back and read the rest of that book, I think the experience made me want to push my boundaries and overcome my fears. I ended up seeking scary stories (Stephen King was my YA lit). My own writing tends to the dark side, as well, and that was never a conscious effort. Even though Audrey Rose may have traumatized me, that trauma ended up resulting in a lifelong fascination.
What do you read for pleasure?
Nearly everything I read is for pleasure (it probably helps that I genuinely love learning). While I'm happy to read most genres, my favourites are literary and fantasy fiction. I also enjoy non-fiction on subjects ranging from mythology and art to food, gardening, nature, history, philosophy, and science, depending on my mood.
When did you first start writing?
I tried to write my first book when I was 7, then I tried again when I was 12. Needless to say, those attempts didn’t get too far. I finally succeeded in completing my first novel when I was in my early twenties.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love playing with words, playing with language and rhythm. There's something incredibly satisfying about finding the perfect word to complete a sentence. Of course, there's also the sheer fun of creating worlds and writing stories about them.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It's my nature to do things my own way. I was also tired of hearing from traditional publishers that my work was good but "not right" for them.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on a midquel/sequel to Love Lies Bleeding. I've also got short stories in the works.
How do you approach cover design?
I love art and appreciate good design, so I knew the cover design would be important. I had a lot of trouble coming up with a cover for Love Lies Bleeding. My partner, Scott, is a talented photographer (he'll deny it, but don't listen), so I asked him to take a few shots. At first I had the idea of a floral image, to go with Mara's background as a botanist and herbalist. Unfortunately, Love-Lies-Bleeding flowers are not photogenic (at least, not in the context of a book cover). Bleeding heart flowers are visually much better, but using the wrong flower bothered me, so I gave up on that idea quickly. We then tried taking photos of melting ("bleeding") heart-shaped candy--I thought the effect was pretty good, but it still didn't really work.
At that point I came up with an idea for an illustrated cover design and found an artist online that I thought could do it. I expected an original illustration based on my description. Instead this person kept giving me clip art that didn't even look close to what I was asking for. Complete waste of time and money--I hope I never need to go that route again.
Finally we decided to look through photos we'd already taken to see if anything would inspire us. I'd been to Paris the year before and realized I'd taken some nice shots of art around the city. The statue from the Medici fountain in the Jardin du Luxembourg was perfect for Love Lies Bleeding. From there it was a matter of editing the photo, picking fonts, and putting it all together (most of which Scott did). Ultimately I'm really pleased with what we created (and have received a number of compliments on it). The cover for Blood Magic was much easier to do; this time I used a photo I'd taken in the Louvre of a statue of Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy. I already have the cover photo picked out for the next book.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use the Kindle app on my iPad and phone, and I use iBooks, as well. I'm not sure why there's so much hostility to e-books and e-readers--they're incredibly convenient and make reading more accessible--how is that not a good thing? There will always be room for both traditional books and e-books (and audiobooks and fiction mists, and any other form books might take...)
Describe your desk
Broken. It was broken in my last move and I still haven't replaced it. In the meantime I'm using a combination of the living room couch, bookcase shelf space, and overwhelming chaos.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love crafts that let me keep my hands busy while my mind is free to wander and mentally work on my writing (my current projects include needlepoint, crochet, and paint by number). I'm also a fan of museums, art galleries, and gardens--I visit them as often as possible.
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