I wanted to write something lighthearted and fun. I'd just finished my four-part fantasy series (By Eyes Unseen) which required seven years to write. BEU was fulfilling but also grueling at times, and I wanted to change gears completely. The Never List allowed me to loosen up with language and let the story flow on its own. From one day to the next, I didn't know what would happen until Charles or Tori (the protagonists) revealed it on the page. It was great fun from start to finish.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Lots of research and rumination. I did not rush into the process. The publishing market is rapidly evolving, and that change has opened doors for indie authors like me who couldn't get a foot in before. In the 1990s I did all the "right things" trying to sell a fantasy-adventure series, and after years of effort, I gave up. But I didn't stop writing. Last year I realized the game had changed, and while traditional publishers won't disappear, opportunities are more accessible for writers like myself. I don't see indie publishing as an end but as a different sort of beginning.
What are you working on next?
My next writing project is the sequel to The Never List, and it's already half finished. It picks up right where The Never List ends as Charles and Tori continue their time-travel adventures. I'm also doing final edits on the By Eyes Unseen series, and all four books will be published in October (2015).
How do you approach cover design?
I view the covers of books like photographs of a wedding. There are lots of ways to cut corners when planning a wedding. Flowers, cake, invitations, even the dress. But hiring a quality wedding photographer is worth every cent. The other stuff fades, gets lost or given away. The photos preserve the memories, even when all the rest is gone. I view books covers in the same way. I can skimp on a lot of things as an indie publisher, but I risk losing more than I save if I don't hire a professional cover artist.
What is your writing process?
I'm a morning writer. I wake up early, eat breakfast immediately, and dive right in. Too many distractions, or a break in that pattern, can drag my brain to other places, and then I don't always get back to that creative space. I need serenity, more than anything, to be my best creative self. Serenity, and one cup of strong coffee.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My day job eats up a fair chunk of my waking hours. If I'm off the clock, and not pecking away at my computer, then you'll probably find me walking or reading. I don't own a TV, and while I love visual storytelling, I try to limit myself to an hour a day. If I do watch something on my computer, I try to keep moving or be productive in some other way. Life's too short - and we're all too gifted - to spend our days only consuming the creations of others. Give and take is the goal.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
While I don't recall the first story I ever read, I recall many that impacted me deeply. One book has stuck with me more than any other, and it's still on the shelves in my bedroom. "Miss Jaster's Garden" was a 9x12 book from the 1970s that combined gorgeous artwork and a resonant story. It described the relationship between an unmarried woman and the hedgehog that lived in her garden. It was beautifully written. Exquisitely illustrated. The map on the endsheets enchanted me. And it was a strange little tale, to be honest, one with depths beyond my comprehension. As a child I knew it was more than "just a story," and that awareness stirred my own love for storytelling.
Describe your desk
I love my desk. It has the feel of one of those antique writing desks from the Victorian era. Dark brown wood. Shelves with cubbies on both sides. I wanted something old-school and retro, the kind of desk that Dickens or Woolfe might have used to write their novels. It may seem silly to invest in such a detail, but when I bought it, I was entering into the awareness that I was becoming a writer who worked on the side, not a worker who wrote on the side. My desk is a symbol of affirmation for my writing self.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Texas, where the South meets the West. And Texas is indeed big. Big cities. Big hats. Big trucks and big steaks. With all that "bigness" comes a subtle confidence, I think, that's woven into the bones of those raised in the Lone Star State. Yes, we can seem terribly ego-maniacal, and I work hard when I'm in England (or anywhere) NOT to act like a brash & braggy Texan. That said, I do value the confidence my home state has brought me - even though I'm far more interested in British history, and most days I'd rather live full-time in the U.K. But as a writer my "Texan spirit" has served me well. It's a knuckle-down, get-er-done way of thinking that keeps me writing when it's no longer easy or fun.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm a Kindle gal. I went kicking and screaming into the eBook world at first. I love books - the kind made from paper - and initially I viewed the act of buying an e-reader as pounding another nail into the print world's coffin. Now I love my Kindle, especially for traveling. I also edit my manuscripts with it. But I still buy print books, too, and genre often determines which format I choose. For the record, I do not have a smart phone. It's my last act of neo-Luddite rebellion.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The joy found in the act of creating. Writing for me is neither a means nor an end. As Julia Cameron shares in "The Artist's Way" - "We are intended to create." To participate in any act of creation - whether it involves words for a novel, or seeds for a garden, or ingredients for a recipe, or walls for a house - summons its own transcendent joy.
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