I try to write every day, but that is more difficult than it seems because I'm the mother of a ten-year-old daughter and co-owner of a very successful PR company in San Francisco. I also carry a notebook and take down any and all random thoughts that come my way.
What's the story behind your latest book?
As one of the few women working in politics and public affairs in San Francisco and the region, I've often longed for a confidant to discuss some of the more unpleasant things that have happened in the course of doing my work. That desire sent me off to write a play about a consultant who suddenly sees an ancient female warrior appear as her invisible mentor.
Writing a play is tricky though, and it turned out not to be my medium. Not long after that experience, I went for a long walk in Golden Gate Park near my house on a very foggy morning. As I was approaching a pathway, I saw a very unusual man materialize out of the fog bank - just inches in front of me. Something about that moment gave birth to Woman King, the fog being a supernatural shield and I just went from there.
Really though, Woman King is about how women choose to become leaders. Who do they emulate, and are they willing to trust their own instincts?
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
My first works were actually poems, I began writing as a young child and it continued into college. My writing started to enter the world when I became a reporter and delighted in learning how to tell the stories of the people I met. When I separated from journalism to become a consultant, I began to feel a deep sadness. It followed me around for many years until I sat down and started to write again. My first full length novel came two years later, entitled Public Comment. It's a wry (if I do say so myself) political satire that one day I hope to take out of its box and publish.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Oh goodness. No. I was the child who rode her bike to the library and sat on the floor pulling books from the shelves. I actually won awards during the summer for being a bookworm. But if I was hard pressed, I'd say Stephen King stands out. The Stand was a killer for me. I also loved Dune - I suppose science fiction made its mark early.
How do you approach cover design?
I hire a designer. When I first met with Leah, we took a walk in Golden Gate Park and I explained what was happening in the book. I gave her a few passages and then she developed several themes for me to review. We also reviewed the covers of books we thought had been successful from a design standpoint. Dracula, for example, is a classic and a great love of mine. If you look at the final Woman King cover, you'll see the influence it had.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Okay, I could never just have five, but here is a glimpse: Dracula - old-fashioned suspense. To Kill a Mockingbird - beautiful. Discovery of Witches - so fresh and amazing. Animal Farm - as a political consultant I think constantly of this commentary on power, and what those who have it do to others. All the Pretty Horses - heartbreaking. Get Shorty - my appreciation for Elmore Leonard is growing as I come to understand the blood he spilled for his craft. The Tiger's Wife - good story telling and a masterful look at the supernatural undercurrent of Balkan society.
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything. I subscribe to the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. I visit the library near my house at least twice a month and try to read the top fiction books. I use my iPad to discover all kinds of e-books and short stories. I download about 20 samples a week of all kinds of genres - steampunk to steamy.
Describe your desk
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Rejection. And a sense that good writers could easily be overlooked in the machine of modern publishing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
In my darkest moments, on a day when my book is not selling well ...I remember that the story I'm writing is there in my head no matter what. And that I write to live, to let the story live on, and the rest of it will just sort itself out.
To finish the tale - to make it come alive, is so difficult. When I accomplish what I set out to do, when I translate my imagination onto the page, I feel a kind of kind of joy that defies adjectives.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love them. Recently, a book club took me to dinner and asked me to read from Woman King and the upcoming sequel. Honestly, if I'd been hit by a bus on the way home I would have died a happy woman. To spend two hours with my readers, answering their questions and listening to their ideas - it was wonderful.
What are you working on next?
The second installment in the Woman King trilogy.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have a 10-year-old who needs her mom to wake her up, make her lunch and take her to school. She is my life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
We have a second home in Sun Valley where we like to spend as much time as possible. When I'm there or in SF, I like to be outside, walking or riding my bicycle. I enjoy cooking and gardening, but as a family we really love to travel. Recently I was in Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia and it was amazing.
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