Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on a farm in eastern Kansas, and then moved to a small town in Colorado when I was eleven. I remember seeing a tornado in the field behind the farm once when I was six. The fact that the world could come to an end at any minute gave me an appreciation of how precarious life is, even at that age. Also, it made me afraid to go to sleep whenever tornado warnings came on television.
When did you first start writing?
I remember my first poem. I was in the first grade, and it went like this:
Mother mother you are sweet You are kind and you are neat I love you much I love you so I love you well as you might know
For some reason, my teacher was impressed by that.
What's the story behind your latest book?
A City of Stone is the follow-up to A City of Wood, and the characters are really dealing with the fallout of the events of the first book. In particular, I wanted to deal with their sense of loss. To say any more would really spoil the first book, but I'm proud of the character work I got to do with the second. Everyone is given greater depth and some backstory that got left out of the first book. Even the secondary characters, I hope, will surprise readers with some of the things they reveal about themselves. They certainly surprised me. Of course, there's a bit of adventure in it too...a kidnapping and rescue that brings everyone together.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Completing the work, and realizing that I've just created something that didn't exist before.
What are you working on next?
I just finished A City of Stone, which was the sequel to A City of Wood. Right now, I'm trying to upload the paperback versions to CreateSpace without much luck. Apparently, they don't like Windows 8. I don't remember that being an issue before. After I'm done wrestling with that, I'll start on A City of Air, which is the third and last book in the trilogy.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Usually, it's a cat wanting breakfast.
What is your writing process like?
I sit down after breakfast and write in short sessions of 25 minutes each, with a 5-minute break in between. Then I get dressed. I find that things go easier if I write the first draft by hand, on paper, and then come back later to enter it into my computer. The words always change a bit in the translation, so I get two drafts in one day. The process has really increased my daily word count.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It wasn't the first story I ever read, by any means, but when I was eight I decided that I was tired of kids' books and wandered over to the grownup section of the tiny library that was in my home town and checked out Little Women. I read it several times, and remembered how incredible it was to immerse myself in another world that was painted in words, and not the cotton-candy pictures of the books that were being promoted for my age group.
How do you approach cover design?
Hit and miss. I spend hours tinkering with pictures and font styles until I see something that pleases me.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Little Women, because it was first, and still holds up under multiple readings. Dracula, for the mastery of its style. Moonwise, for the mastery of language and simile. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, for entertainment. Wool, because it was good enough to sucker me into buying all five of the installments.
What do you read for pleasure?
Mystery novels, mostly, and urban fantasy.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Nook HD, and a Kindle app on my phone.
Describe your desk
Small and bare.
What do your fans mean to you?
They keep me going with my writing. Without their support, I wouldn't have finished anything.
Who are your favorite authors?
Goodness, that's a tough one. I read anything by Patricia McKillip, and I'm waiting for the next Order of the Air book to come out. That's a collaboration between Melissa Scott and Jo Graham. The last one was Steel Blues. Also Hugh Howey, even though I don't normally go for dystopian stuff. I really liked Carole Nelson Douglas's Irene Adler series, and was disappointed that her publisher decided to discontinue it. She turned me on to Sherlock Holmes, which led to Arthur Conan Doyle.
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