As a little girl, I always dreamed of having a secretary desk. The kind with lots of little drawers and a shelf inside the desk and cabinets and drawers below the desk. Mine also has a glass cabinet above the desk. It houses mementos of trips and special moments--a mini David statue, a hand made birthday card, an amber hour glass, and my name in Japanese. There's even a shelf for my favorite books. Manila folders are piled on the shelf inside the desk for my ongoing projects. A to-do pile sits to the left of my keyboard and a to-do list is to my right. A cup of pens is hidden behind my laptop. A peacock box lays in the corner. Something pretty to remind me that work has to be about creating beauty too.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in a small New England town in Connecticut. When everyone knows each other, it's easy to know who a person is on the outside. But it made me very curious about the inner workings of people. About the world that existed inside their mind. It also made me long to travel and many of the places I lived and visited as an adult ended up in novel.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote pretty mediocre poetry as a kid. I still have a dozen fabric covered journals filled with poems in my bookcase. I tried my hand at novels but always lost interest after a few chapters. In 2006, I was mourning the end of the Harry Potter series. I decided to write a novel so that I could spend as much time with the characters as I wanted.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I had endured a crippling spine problem that left me unable to sit. After months of pain, I had disc replacement surgery and my life was mine again. I could look back and see how hard my injury was on my loved ones. I wanted to tell that story. The story of a caregiver and a loved one in need. In my novel, you will meet Kai, a telepath whose abilities are spiraling our of control, and Oliver, the husband who want to save her at any cost.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I spent a few years querying agents, pitching at conferences, getting agent and editor feedback from charity auctions, and revising my novel. In 2012, I entered Six Train in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. I made it through several rounds of the contest, receiving lots of positive feedback. I was one of the semifinalists--top 50 out of 5000. That gave me the confidence to consider alternative routes to publication. I truly believed in the story and thought it would find an audience. So I decided to invest in myself and create the best book I could.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. It's the best feeling in the world to open an email and hear that someone connected with your story. That your words helped them. That you made them feel less alone. And when you get a review online, it makes all the hard work and the self-doubt worth it.
How did you come up with your title, The Six Train to WIsconsin?
My title came to me back when I lived in Manhattan. I was riding the subway during my commute between my apartment and my office. I’d forgotten my reading materials and was trying to avoid eye contact with other riders. So I stared at the subway map on the wall across from me.
My eyes traced the route of the Six Train from the Bronx to Manhattan. It passed 51st Street where Oliver worked, hit Bleeker Street where they lived, and went down to City Hall where Kai worked.
The characters move from New York City to Wisconsin. Neither of them wants to leave the city. It’s something they have to do. It is not an easy journey for them. I thought about how the Six Train doesn’t run to Wisconsin but for them it has to. I wanted the title to hint at the conflict of their physical and emotional journey.
How do you approach cover design?
I thought about the themes of the book. It's about love, trust, forgiveness and family. For me, the Richter farmhouse embodied all these things. I knew it had to be a white farmhouse set against a snowy backdrop. My cover designer was able to take two photographs of mine, one of a CT farmhouse and one of the snowy trees in my parents' backyard and Photoshop them into the cover I have.
Why did you set your book in Butternut, Wisconsin?
I was very focused on creating conflict at every layer of the book. I wanted the setting to provide tension. So I thought, where can you take two New Yorkers and drop them to create conflict?
Answer: The Midwest.
Wisconsin just felt right. I needed somewhere off the beaten path. A small village. I poured over maps and Butternut popped out at me. I loved the name. When I researched Butternut, it fit my story world requirements perfectly.
I knew I had to go there to get a feel for the place. I visited Copper Falls, Turtle Flambeau Flowage, and Deer Haven Lodge. These places felt so important to the setting that I added them into my novel.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.
When Kai’s telepathy spirals out of control, her husband Oliver brings her to the quiet Wisconsin hometown he abandoned a decade ago, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future.