Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Chicago area. I was born and raised on the north side of town. It has influenced me greatly. I have often said that I consider Chicago to be a great inspiration for my work. There is something about this city that just inspires me. Not all of my books have been set in Chicago, but they have what I would call a Midwestern or Chicago-style attitude and feel to them.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing when I sat down at my mother's electric typewriter and wrote my first story. It was a horrifically bad three-page story with little punctuation and no paragraph breaks called (get this!) "Jaws, Jr." Within that three pages I killed off a character, only to forget that I had and bring him back at the end. It was awful, but I had so much fun doing it, from that point forward I told people I would be an author.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest work (coming to Smashwords very soon) is my first Young Adult novel called Sapphire. It is a mystery, suspense, paranormal love story. So far the reviews have been great and it has opened up whole new avenues for me.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I tried and tried to get published by the standard publishers. They just never seemed to want me. Nor did agents. When the Kindle came along, I decided to publish my novel RIG with them and, lo and behold, it found an audience. From that point forward, it was all about publishing stuff for me and via indie routes.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is huge! Just being able to direct non-Kindle people here has been huge. Being able to generate coupons for giveaways is tremendous. The independence that comes with Smashwords is second-to-none.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love all of it. I wish I could do it full time. The creation process is just amazing for me. It is the greatest feeling in the world to settle back into a story and have the characters tell me where they want to go next. I don't believe I create the stories. I often feel like a conduit to the characters who tell their tales to me.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! They life me up when I am down. Every time I despair over the fact I am not a hugely bestselling author and making my entire living from being an author - I get an email or something from a fan. They make it all worthwhile. I love my fans so much and appreciate them so much it's hard to express.
What are you working on next?
I have so many things. I have a horror novella due out this Halloween. I have my third Sin-Eater novel in the works for Christmas. I have the first novel in a young adult series already done and plans to publish that in 2014. I have stories upon stories lined up in my mind - I just hope I can find the time to write them all.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King. Robert R. McCammon. Richard Matheson. HP Lovecraft. Blake Crouch.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The chance to write again inspires me. The chance to create something that will entertain people and maybe even become something that they love is what inspires me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love movies. I have a day job, too. I watch too much TV. I listen to music. I write freelance, as well.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.