All the other writers. If not for the exceptional models, I wouldn't have been able to form my own voice and identity.
Who are your favorite authors?
I've been a voracious reader forever, and many books have left their marks on me. Here are a few: East of Eden by John Steinbeck (…and Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, Tortilla Flats) Keep Me Still by Caisey Quinn Nine Stories by JD Salinger The Witness by Nora Roberts (and so many others) The Rough Riders Series by Lorelei James The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Veiled Innocence by Ella Frank The Beautiful Series by Christina Lauren The Vegas Top Guns Series by Katie Porter The Sullivans Series by Belle Andre
What is your writing process?
My brain is a little funky. I'm quite talented with action plans and project management, but I hate forcing myself into those parameters. I can outline a book, but I'll start writing and promptly deviate from the outline. After fighting all of my instincts, I stopped with the structures and apps and rules, and just let the words flow. It exists in a chaotic ecosystem in my head, and I'm praying the dementia doesn't set in too soon.
How do you approach cover design?
I live in the realm of words, and I rely on the expertise of those who know images for covers. If it were left to me, my cover would probably resemble a third grader's magazine cut-out collage.
What was your inspiration when you started writing this story?
The Walsh Series originated from a project I was consulting on last year. An educational organization was attempting to get the legislature to revise regulatory guidance around repurposing Industrial Revolution-era mills and factories for schools, and I met an incredible team of architects in the process. They were some of the most brilliant, complex individuals I'd ever encountered, and they were ridiculously adorable, too. At the time, I was also running into brick walls with my work-in-progress. I took a vacation from that manuscript and started imagining a family of brilliant, adorable architects, and within a few days, Patrick, Matthew, Shannon, Riley, Sam, and Erin were born. Family businesses are incredibly complex, especially those that come with decades of tangled drama and loss. I wanted to craft a series that didn't simply describe the paths these six people took to find love. I also wanted to spotlight their individual places in the business and family, and how those places shaped them. Thinking specifically about UNDERNEATH IT ALL, I wanted to introduce the notion of change to the Walshes. They've been on their own for quite some time, and they've gradually closed ranks without realizing it. A lot of changes come their way, and while neither Matt nor Lauren wanted a relationship, the change was necessary for them, and it was ultimately necessary for all of the Walshes. Thinking specifically about THE SPACE BETWEEN, I wanted to focus on Patrick as he assumed full responsibility for the family firm, and I wanted to find someone who was his equal in every way possible. It was also important that other characters continue developing, and the reader gets to see that through Patrick and Andy's interactions with the rest of the Walshes.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm always doing a little of everything, and prefer it that way.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing UNDERNEATH IT ALL in November 2013 and THE SPACE BETWEEN in February 2014. Before the Walshes, I started very young. My imagination has always ran a few feet ahead of me, and I started capturing those ideas on paper when I was in junior high – maybe earlier. That love of storytelling transitioned into journalism, and before I graduated high school, I was reporting for an indie arts publication. Beyond that, I spent time with major daily newspapers and independent publishing houses.
Describe your ideal hero.
I’m an equal opportunity hero lover. The billionaires, the cowboys, the businessmen, the Navy SEALS, the computer geeks: love them all, and above all else, I adore the heroes who deeply, thoroughly recognize that his partner is his equal. Women kick a lot of ass, and I want a hero who gets that, and doesn't minimize it in any way, regardless of whether he’s an alpha, dom, or generally growly, bitey boy.
What is the hardest part of writing a novel?
For me, it’s balancing the desire to drive toward a happy ending while keeping reality in the passenger seat. Saying “I love you” doesn’t vanquish all the problems a couple might face. In real relationships, people push and pull against each other, and do stupid things, and hold onto an illogical assortment of baggage longer than necessary, and sometimes characters drive us crazy with all that.
What do you do to relax?
I watch reruns of Grey's Anatomy on Lifetime.
I talk about cows and turtles (she thinks they're natural friends) with my toddler, Baby Canterbary.
I indulge Mr. Canterbary's desire to sample all the fried fish joints along the New England coast (and much like Andy, I sit there drinking beer while he eats).
And I read and write…a lot.
If you could sit down face to face with any of your characters, who would you choose and why?
I’d love to have a beer with Riley. Whether his siblings are aware of it or not, Riley knows all the secrets and hears all the gossip. He also does a remarkable job at pretending he’s an idiot.
He’s an incredible judge of character and always down for a good time. He’d probably show me a few corners of Boston that even I haven’t explored.
What is the one author changed your perspective on writing?
I love the way Lorelei James built a complex, interconnected family story with the Rough Riders series, while also allowing characters to have their own independent stories. I could read any of those stories as a stand-alone, and there’s something beautiful about such deeply threaded stories being able to stand on their own two feet.
(And she taught this city girl everything I need to know about ranching! I’ve used my McKay knowledge in more than a few high-brow cocktail party discussions about land rights, factory farming, and the American West. Don’t let anyone say romance novels aren’t instructive.)
Will there be more books with side characters to make a series?
Yes! I'm planning for six Walsh stories. I’m currently writing the third novel, Sam’s story, and I’ve been debating a few different scenarios for the last three books.
How do you get into the mind of a character?
I hear the characters…And I promise I’m not crazy! I hear them talking – either dialogue or their inner monologues, and I get a feel for them. I think about different scenarios and experiences they might have, and I let them do the talking.
Some characters come and find me. Andy woke me up in the middle of the night last February, and I heard the entire first chapter of THE SPACE BETWEEN.
List 3-5 ways that you enjoy spending your day.
1. Spending time with Little Baby Canterbary. She’s almost two and half, and she loves turtles and Pioneer Woman, and possesses a fair share of my “just because you tell me to do something doesn’t mean I’m going to” sass.
2. Spending time with Mr. Canterbary. We’ve been together more than half of my life – and I’m not *that* old – and I’m not sure I’d know how to handle the universe without him.
3. Wrestling with story problems while I work on other projects, and letting my subconscious figure it all out.
4. Connecting with friends and readers and authors on social media. It's incredible that we can all come together so easily, and I’m constantly discovering new friends across the globe. I love hearing from readers scattered far and wide, and those closer home (I’m looking at you, Boston!).
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