Can I narrow it down to five? I have so many favorites, but here it goes (In no particular order. That would be like asking me to choose between my kids!)...
1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. I could seriously read this book a million times and not get sick of it. I love the characters, the language, the story. But most of all I love how much Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy change and grow as they fall in love.
2. Cabinet of Curiosities, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child. I love all the Agent Pendergast novels, but this is still my favorite. Great story, unusual characters, action, suspense, this book has it all.
3. The Elemental Mysteries Series, Elizabeth Hunter. Beautifully written; unique, lovable characters; romance and action; everything that I love in a story. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Elizabeth Hunter. I seriously want to be her when I grow up!
4. The Infernal Devices Series, Cassandra Claire. I loved this series even more than The Mortal Instruments. I fell in love with Tessa, Will, and Jem, and the pure love they had for each other. This series has the best, most satisfying endings I've ever read, and put a perfect finish on a perfect series.
5. Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell. This book changed my life, at the tender age of 14. This is epic story still calls to me, 14+ years later. I'll always be a sucker for Rhett Butler.
When did you first start writing?
I've wanted to be a writer since I was in 9th grade. I started writing for my junior high school newspaper, and got to write some creative stories in my English classes. But then I had to start writing essays in high school, and after three years of essay writing, I was done. I lost all desire to write anything, ever again. Then I got to college, and that whole no more writing thing didn't last long! But then I read Harry Potter, and I remembered how much I loved a good story, and how much I missed writing my own. and I started thinking about writing again. It took many years, and a few kids later, but one day I just decided to do it. I had a couple ideas floating around inside my head, and I took the one that was speaking to me and started writing it down. A year and a half later, that story became my first book, Beautiful Mess. So, to all you aspiring high school authors out there... don't let English essays discourage and demoralize you! There is still fun in writing!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. I lived there until after I was married, and my husband and I have been able to live in a few different places, which I love. We've lived in Pittsburgh, Dallas, and now call Denver home. I grew up with a close, tight-nit family who instilled in me many values and morals that I still have today, and now teach my children. That has had the biggest influence in my writing. I want my readers, especially my teenage readers, to know that it's okay to have values, morals, things you believe in. It's okay to live by these values, even when those around you may not agree with you, or think you're crazy. Believing in something greater than yourself is a good thing, and can help you make better choices in your lives. It's okay to have standards for yourself. I try to instill this in my writing. I like having strong characters, who aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe in.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Honestly, all the amazing indie books I read. I read all these stories, and enjoyed them just as much as the traditionally published books I read. And I thought to myself, "I could do this." I also liked the personal control indie publishing offers. No waiting six months for books to be printed, being able to control my own writing schedule, putting out I book when I felt it was ready, publishing as many books I want, when I want. I am an instant gratification kind of girl when it comes to books. Waiting a whole year for a sequel is torture! So, I also like that I could be as instantly gratifying as my writing schedule would allow, as an indie author. Plus, indie is just cool! Just look at all the amazing, successful indie authors out there. Not that I expect all that success, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is being able to take the stories and characters in my head and share them. It was a little weird at first, when my book first came out, knowing that other people, complete strangers, were reading the things that had been locked in my own head for so long. But it's fun to be able to share a little piece of myself with whoever decides to pick up my book. I love a great story, and I feel I have some more to share. That's what I love most.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are AWESOME! I never really thought anyone outside of my immediate family would ever read my book. So the fact that there have been so many people who've read it and loved it, blows my mind! My characters are like my fictional kids. To see so many people fall in love with them too, it warms my heart. Seriously, my fans are why I keep writing!
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm working on the sequel to Beautiful Mess, coming out later this year. Beautiful Mess was originally just going to be a stand alone book. But so many people asked for more from Bri and Cole (thank you guys!), and I realized that there was more of their story that needed to be told. I'm planning on a third book, because I don't think I can fit everything into one more novel, and then I have a couple of ideas for some new series... We'll see which one speaks to me the loudest! So hopefully there will be many more books in the future!
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a little bit of everything... Okay, I read a LOT of everything. I am an obsessive reader. I'm a sucker for a good love story, and great characters. I love romance, paranormal, even a little fantasy and sci-fi. I love the indie publishing world, and read a TON of indie novels. My husband says that getting me an e-reader was the worst mistake he ever made (jokingly, of course), because now I have instant access to millions of books. I have many favorite indie writers that I read, and am constantly discovering new ones. I love indie authors, they are who inspired me to write my own!
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many favorites, I may not be able to fit them all in! But here are a few (again, in no particular order)...
Elizabeth Hunter, Rachel Higginson, Amy Bartol, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Cassandra Clare, Veronica Rossi, Veronica Roth, Becca Fitzpatrick, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Michael Critchton, J K Rowling, Pittacus Lore, Ally Condie, Brodie Ashton, Wendy Higgins, Lish McBride, Alyxzandra Harvey, L J Smith, Bram Stoker, Katie Jennings, Nicole Williams, Colleen Hoover, Margaret Mitchell, Claire Farrell, Robert Louis Stevenson, Courtney Allison Moulton, Devri Walls, Abbi Glines, Airika Phoenix, Maggie Stiefvater, Jennifer L Armentrout, Marie Lu...
And this list is by no means complete. I'm constantly discovering new authors.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to run, be outside, hang out with my family, shop, listen to music... Oh, and READ! I'm kind of boring. ;)
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