Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer?
I’ve been married to my husband for over 30 years, and we have five children (spread out over those three decades). I’ve been writing short stories since I was ten, but always for my own or my family’s enjoyment. After being a stay-at-home mom for several decades, my youngest finally started school. So, I turned to my writing full-time and realized just how much I loved it!
Do you write full-time? How much of your life is set aside for writing?
I write while my kids are at school and then often in the evenings when the youngest is in bed and the house is quiet.
Could you tell us a little about your first novel?
The Apple of My Eye opens as Brea Cass, a young mother, is awakened in the night by the news that her loving husband, Paul, has been shot during a robbery. She is stunned. Arriving at the hospital to discover he has died shakes her whole world. When she finally emerges from the fog of her life, it dawns on her that something is amiss in the way her husband died. What was really going on?
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up the last of my edits for my fifth novel, which happens to be a sequel to The Apple of My Eye. It is titled The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far. Twelve years after the events of the first book, Brea and her son, Noah, are facing the challenges common with teenagers and their parents. Only Brea wonders if there is more to it than the typical adolescent concerns. You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out.
What about your other novels, do you have a favorite?
That’s like asking if I have a favorite child. If I do, I won’t admit it. Honestly, each book becomes real to me. I become invested in the characters and who they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. I cheer their successes and cry with their failures. (Yes, I admit, I cry while reading my own novels. It’s somewhat pathetic.)
Where does the inspiration for your main characters come from?
I like strong female characters, but not brash or pushy ones. My best review of Brea, my main character in The Apple of My Eye, came from an English professor (aptly named William Shakespeare). He said, “The protagonist [Brea] is an un-manipulative Lady Macbeth without fangs.”
Mira is the main character of In Search of Sisters. I love her because she has forgotten how to be strong, but embarks on a literal and figurative journey to rediscover that about herself.
A deviation from this theme is When I Was Seven. It is told though the eyes of a seven-year-old boy. My youngest was seven when I started writing that novel. He had such a unique way of looking at the world. But, of course, he is surrounded by those strong female characters I mentioned.
Do you have common themes you visit often in your novels?
When my first book, I always had a sense that it would be about love and forgiveness, but I didn’t realize how much it would be about that until the story appeared on the page. I find love, forgiveness, and redemption are themes I am often drawn to. I believe those are so universal and apply to everyone.
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
The simple answer is yes – I do both. As different ideas come, I just write them quickly before they fade or I jot down the basic ideas on 3 x 5 cards. When there are too many 3 x 5 cards to keep straight, I put them in the order they are to be used and divide them into chapters. That way when I decide to change something or add new material, it’s easy to move the cards around or insert a card where it belongs.
How much research goes into your novels?
I spend a lot of time looking up things online, talking to people with first hand knowledge, and trying to do hands-on research myself, where appropriate and possible. I’ve spent hours learning about the smallest thing that became a single paragraph in one of my books. But, despite that, I’ve never regretted spending the time to do that.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read! Read books, write short stories, jot down ideas, and then just sit down and write. If you aren’t loving it at least part of the time, try something else.