Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember reading Enid Blyton as a child - my favourite was Tuppeny, Feefo and Jinks and I guess the imaginary world of fairies and pixies captured me. I had a vivid imagination as a child, talking to many of my imaginary friends - it's not surprising really that I now write fiction.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - her honesty is refreshing, her ability to make you imagine the context is superb. 2) The Secret by Rhonda Byrne - a gem of a book with bits of wisdom from so many people that are imperative for life. 3) Tuppeny, Feefo and Jinks by Enid Blyton - still one of my favourites. (I think it's known as The Green Goblin Book) 4) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - he is an inspiration to me - a master storyteller. 5) Any thriller that has me on the edge of my seat of course!
What made you begin writing?
I suffered emotional trauma due to relationship breakdowns and this left me emotionally depleted and without purpose or identity. A friend suggested I write a blog and the freedom and healing writing brought really got me started. Once I began my story I felt liberated and loved being transported to other worlds - I found something I loved!
What is your writing process?
I have to start my day with a strong cup if coffee to get my brain working. I don't follow typical writing rules either. I have tried various writing courses that have taught me to plan and spend hours writing outlines for chapters on my books - I find this frustrating and that it stifles my creativity. I guess I am a spontaneous writer - I simply sit down and just let the story flow out of me and I let it take whatever direction inspiration takes me as I type. My process is certainly organic - I structure it when I go back and read it for editing purposes. I try to write almost every day.
How does The Awakening differ from the other two books in the series? (The Reckoning and The Rising)
The Awakening is setting the scene really for the journey to begin. It is the introduction to the Hamilton family and their backstory as well as their discovery to find themselves. It sets the scene for the other novels that follow on. I know it is slower than the other books but it is important to understand the context and the family first. The Reckoning and The Rising are more adventurous with greater plot twists and with new and interesting characters. There is also more romance in the second and third books which add a fresh dynamic.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in South Africa during the peak of the apartheid years and it definitely has shaped my thinking. As a privileged middle-class white South African I was rather unaware of the issues in our nation due to such segregation, however, when Nelson Mandela (whom I greatly admire) became president and things began to change I saw how evil it was. I immigrated to New Zealand and seeing so many cultures living together in harmony really inspired me. I am a social advocate - I abhor human injustice in any form. I guess I hope that the more I write the more I can incorporate some of these issues into my work. I am currently writing short stories of human injustice which I hope to publish someday.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I am working on The Golden Cage (Bk 4 in The Destiny Chronicles) which is a little darker and asks the question why bad things happen to good people. The story moves into a more historically accurate context than the previous books and it explores some human issues and emotions that my previous characters haven't dealt with. I am also writing my own story - how I got to where I am, what has made me who I am, my joys, traumas, failures and victories.
How do you approach cover design?
I am also an artist and I love painting. I know that it is not always recommended that author's design their own covers but I love the design process. I studied graphic design too, so that helps. I spend hours of time searching the internet for the perfect image. Sometimes I use more than one image to create my cover. I make sure that I purchase the image and have the rights to use it before I begin working with it. I like to choose images that speak but don't give away too much about the book - just enough to pique the reader's curiosity. Then it goes to Photoshop where I work on it until I am satisfied.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am only just beginning this journey but I have found Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ the most effective as well as developing a website with a blog and interesting content. Goodreads has been fabulous too. I am beginning to explore YouTube and making some videos as well. Marketing is hard work and has to be continually worked at. I wish there was a simple answer.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted control over my books - I wanted to create something from its inception to its completion and to have the satisfaction that I could do it - I could follow my dreams without someone telling me it wasn't good enough. It doesn't mean I haven't doubted myself, but I have pushed through that doubt to reach my dreams.
Describe your desk
I have a very rustic wooden desk that is over 8 foot long. It has an old vintage typewriter on it (for inspiration of course) a desktop computer, my books, a salt lamp to increase levels of serotonin in my brain, a few file boxes and a noticeboard. My desk is not super tidy, however I do not like it getting too messy either. Of course my laptop lives here too.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Losing myself in another world and creating a place where others can lose themselves too. Knowing that I have created something that will last, that my grand-kids will read one day.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a poem called The Fathers Eyes. My first actual story was a children's story written in rhyme. One day I will publish it.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Iphone or laptop
What do you read for pleasure?
I like thrillers that keep me turning the pages, life stories of various people and anything motivational.
What do your fans mean to you?
I don't have many - YET!! The people who have encouraged me and reviewed my books mean so much to me. Without them, it would seem a lonely road and I would truly doubt myself, but even the slightest encouragement has huge implications for me - mainly delight, joy and a desire to keep doing what I love.
Who are your favorite authors?
C.S. Lewis, Erica Spindler, Elizabeth Gilbert, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Higgins-Clark, Robin Cook, Michael Palmer,
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My family - they are my greatest fans, as well as the beautiful coffee my espresso pot makes. I love life and each day is a gift - I try to be positive as I believe what you believe determines your reality. I'm all for happiness, gratitude and living in the moment.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Relaxing with family, reading or painting, outdoor activities such as cycling, running or a walk, and of course drinking coffee and wine and eating chocolate.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Through Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads and Smashwords. My husband is an avid reader who is always buying ebooks so I steal some from him.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I haven't been with Smashwords long but I hope they provide me greater visibility as an author and make my books available in many more channels.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.