Writers write to bring richness & delight to their readers. Only one reader, or a million, you are in our hearts with every word we put on paper.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I am particularly fond of language: ancient, modern, ethnic, upper class, gutter slang, the language of thieves or the idioms of doctors, the words a mother might choose, or a wizard. I collect vocabularies and marvel at speech patterns. We have delightful ways of expressing ourselves, we humans!
What is your writing process?
I usually start a book with an interesting question (What if the fantasy roll-playing games my son plays really did have a basis in reality? How would a parent cope?) It is usually something that I feel has many answers, raises interesting questions, can be examined from many angles. I look for a driving plot, something fun and urgent. I am not a literary writer: my stories must go somewhere, they cannot be allowed to wander, poor dears. Trouble is their lot in life.
I often start the writing itself with dialogue, then layer in emotion, the scene, the hidden agendas, editing the vocabulary to suit the characters, editing and re-editing the entire mess until it is good enough for my critique group (bless their long-suffering hearts), and then I re-write again after they have pointed out the many deficiencies. I write anywhere and everywhere -- the patio, my office, the airport, a hotel room, a cafe -- just give me my computer and I'm set.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I am writing a four volume historical fiction about a woman doctor. The first two volumes take place in NY city 1832 to 1860, encompassing her struggles to be trained in medicine in a Victorian-era culture, and all the characters (pirates, an inventor, a spiritualist, and old sea captain, quack doctors, Irish immigrants) that she meets along the way. In the third and forth volumes she goes undercover as a man to work as a surgeon in the Civil War (1860 to 1864). A difficult war to survive.
I am also final editing a sci-fi novelette about body stealing and body switching: a dark-edged comedy and adventurous romp. Silly, but fun.
Who are your favorite authors?
Jane Smiley: Private Life Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring series Neil Stephenson: Snow Crash Joyce Carol Oates: The Gravedigger's Daughter Alexander McCall Smith: #1 Ladies Detective Agency Series Henry James: The Ambassadors George Eliot: Middlemarch Eoin Colfer: the Artemis Fowl series Michael Chabon: Gentlemen of the Road
Describe your desk
My desk is a very large glass-covered wood slab with an Encarta Dictionary, a microscope, a bouquet of clay flowers made by my mother, and several computers on it. It is piled with books relevant to whatever I am writing. Right now, because I am writing about the Civil War, the pile includes books on the abolitionist John Brown, books by Frederick Douglass, poetry by Walt Whitman, an 19th century romance entitled Lady Audley's Secret, histories of the war, and several medical textbooks that date from the Civil War era. It looks out on my garden, so I can be inspired by the flowers. It usually sports a mug of hot tea, as well.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have an extensive garden that grows prolific weeds and inspiring flowers. I work, because writing does not make enough to support even one small mouse (and my family are not mice). I read everything old, new, any genre or literary style that I can enjoy & learn from. At least 3 x a year, I travel all over the world with my delightful husband.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.