I love, love, LOVE talking to fellow authors about their passions, their projects, and their process! It helps me learn and grow as well as getting to know them better. Today I had a chat with my good friend and my editor, who also happens to be an amazingly talented author. Now I know her even better than before and I'd love to share what I discovered with you guys!
Have you ever cried over a book? If so, which one and why?
I’m super emotional in general, so I avoid anything that might be even slightly weepy. Hell, I cry watching Big Bang Theory and cell phone commercials. But as a teen I cried buckets over Where the Red Fern Grows.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Too many distractions. I don’t know how those authors who have kids, jobs, a million activities, still manage to write. I have to have literally days with nothing on the schedule or I can’t even start.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If so, what was it?
Not really. My policy is always “I wrote the thing, and I want everybody to damned well know it.” Sometimes I think up cool names and think it would be fun to have a secret identity, but I have enough trouble keeping my own life straight.
Who are your top five favorite authors?
That’s a tough one, because they change all the time. Perennial favorites, though…Diana Gabaldon (the Outlander series), Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden series), Tim Dorsey (hilarious Serge A. Storms series), Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum), Kim Harrison (The Hollows series)…Those are just off the top of my head right now. Ask me again in five minutes and you’ll get different answers, except Diana Gabaldon is pretty much always on there.
What is the worst book you ever read and why?
Oh, boy, I’ll get in trouble for this. I mean, I read a lot of bad stuff, being in the publishing industry, and I stop reading more than I can remember due to bad editing. But I read all three Fifty Shades books because I felt I had to in order to give a valid opinion. Besides being horribly written, it was a lame interpretation of that lifestyle, and I pretty much hated everything about it. I have at least three amazing erotica authors on my client list, and every one of them could write better than that even after a lobotomy.
What’s your spirit animal and why?
I’d like to say it’s something like a jaguar or killer whale, but…dogs. Dogs are my soul.
Do you do research for your characters or settings? Give us an example.
Not really, because I’m actually very lazy. I’d rather write about things I already know, but I did some guitar research for Dead End Road. I did some survival research for my post-apocalypse series. I even set things in fictional towns because if I write about, for example, San Francisco and got one detail wrong, there’s always someone happy to point it out.
Do you believe writing is a gift or a learned skill?
A little of both. Some people are natural storytellers, even if they can’t spell or punctuate a sentence. That’s why we have editors. And you can learn a bit about how to tell a better story, but you have to have a spark there to start. The writing mechanics, the grammar and such, most people can learn.
Do you believe anyone could write a book?
Hm. Maybe? I mean, if you stuck someone in a cell and said you wouldn’t let them out until they wrote a 50,000 word book, I imagine they’d write something. Whether or not it would be worth reading is something else.
How do you name your characters?
I know a lot of authors agonize over this, but I don’t really put a lot of thought into it. You can meet an incredibly hot guy with a totally lame or ridiculous name. But I do like to dig into my childhood and ancestry sometimes. Abby was a nickname my dad had for me when I was little. The last names of the band members in Dead End Road are all names of families I knew growing up.
Do you read your book reviews? Why or why not?
Never. If you go looking for the ego-boosting ones, you also will encounter the bad ones, because everyone gets them. And my mother would’ve told you I always feel like I have to have the last word if I think someone else is wrong, and I’d have a hard time not responding, which is a huge no-no. Plus, I’d dwell on it. Forever.
Are any parts of your book(s) auto-biographical?
A little bit. Abby is an author who’d rather stay home and never see another human.
What was the hardest scene you ever wrote and why?
The “dark moments” in I think it’s chapter 19-20 in Dead End Road. Something happens that Abby can’t accept, and it almost destroys them. That, and the subsequent resolution, were super emotional and I really threw myself into it. I felt bruised and brittle by the time I was done.
Do you write to music? If so, what do you listen to?
This is going to sound strange, since Seth is a musician in Dead End Road, and I did start it because my husband and I had been huge fans of a band and followed them on road trips. But the lead singer/guitarist/songwriter I’d been crushing on for so many years and who had always been so good to us suddenly became a giant ass-hat. I walked out of a concert that night, and now never listen to any music at all. Not for six years.
Have you ever been contacted by a non family/friend fan?
I don’t think so! I had one person contact me back when I had a humor blog, Fermented Fur, and I dubbed her FFFan1 and she was my beta reader chapter by chapter with my first novel. We’re still friends. But since I started with books, I can’t think of anything other than maybe a brief message on my Facebook author page. Nothing like the great notes I see other writers get. I’m jealous!
Have you ever thought of writing outside your genre?
I’d have to get an actual genre first. I have a romance that’s supposed to be a series, a post-apocalyptic series, another romance series in my head, and I read more paranormal and urban fantasy than anything else.
What is your best writing advice for beginners?
Remember my “day job” is as an editor. So first, learn your craft. Learn the elements of storytelling and at least have a decent grasp of grammar, punctuation, and how to write dialogue. And if you self-publish, for the love of all things, hire a qualified editor. But read a lot, write a lot, and most of it will be garbage, but if you don’t work through that stage, you’ll never get to the good stuff.
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