What made you want to become an author?
Characters are always running around and plots are feverishly weaving together inside my head. There are days I get lost in thoughts where I can’t do anything but write what I’m feeling and thinking. It’s one of the only places I am creative, otherwise I’m very organized, specific, and focused on anything I do. Being able to assemble a story or a book, then share it with others, is a very rewarding feeling. I love knowing I can bring some amount of joy and analytical thought to a reader’s mind just as I get from reading hundreds of books each year, too. It’s a passion, and when I had the opportunity to take a chance on changing careers, I jumped in with full excitement and fear.
What inspires your stories?
Families, secrets, and emotions. For me, a story must impact the reader in some way, shape, or form. I write about the fundamentals of being alive and experiencing pain, love, and fear. I want to offer alternative ideas to people who might need a break from their own lives, some difficult moments, or a new way of interpreting their emotions. Once I pull this together, I figure out the surprise and shock moments so that I can push the envelope just a bit more than normal reality. I love reading stories about everyday life, as there’s something comforting and cathartic in seeing how other people react, but when you can push them over the edge and bring about a step out of normalcy, even if it’s a bit unrealistic, it’s still a break from what we’re used to seeing or experiencing. And that’s what reading is all about for me — putting me slightly out of my comfort zone and pushing me to consider a wider sense of what’s going on in the world.
Tell us a little about Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure. How are they alike/different.
Watching Glass Shatter is about a large family full of secrets that are not truly ever meant to be known, but must be revealed in order to save a few lives and re-connect as a family. Like most families, they’ve had moments where they are extremely close and completely separated, but unlike most families, they are a bit larger than life. Five brothers with hidden truths. Death of the patriarch. A mother questioning where she went wrong. And an impending doom that will wreck havoc on people who haven’t even figured out how to properly grieve for what they’ve lost. Part mystery, part emotional journey, it’s a classic tale of how to accept differences and admit when you’ve been wrong.
Father Figure is about two women who are desperately seeking something from a father. One looks in all the wrong places to replace what she’s lost. The other is on quest to find out who her father is. What they share in common is a rather large secret that has been kept hidden for far too long. Unfortunately, revealing it causes the past to re-create itself in ways neither had expected. Mothers and daughters have complicated relationships. When they’re left untended, there can be pain and a sense of lost direction in life. Both women suffer through tragedy and try to find their way back to the surface in very different manners. Part suspense, part emotional journey, it’s a story about how to find yourself when encountering a roadblock nearly every step on the path.
They’re both about relationships, but whereas Watching Glass Shatter is built from 8 different character perspectives, Father Figure is told from only 2 women’s POVs, but it’s across two different time periods. Watching Glass Shatter has more humor and tears. Father Figure has more suspense and questions. But I’ve put my heart into both to make everyone as realistic and reachable as I possibly can in just a few hundred pages.
What genre do you tend to write in and why?
This is a tough question to answer because my style crosses a few genres. Contemporary fiction at the highest point, but then there’s a mix of mystery, family drama and realism fabricated into each story. Both books have characters ranging from 18 to 70, but where Watching Glass Shatter is leaning towards women’s fiction, Father Figure is focused on New Adults (20s). I feel most comfortable in these genres, but I plan to write a cozy mystery series and a thriller in the next two years.
Do you look up to any other authors?
Yes, but in general ways. I feel my style falls into the same areas as Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse, and Lisa Jewell, as I tell stories from different character perspectives, usually about emotional life journeys, mysterious secrets exploding around you, and a mix of sub-genres. I would love to write a few mystery series like Agatha Christie and Dan Brown. And I’m very enamored with the idea of historical fiction like Ken Follett and Kate Morton.
What’s the biggest struggle you face when writing?
I can be overly descriptive when I want to ensure a reader sees the same picture as I do in a specific scene. I’ve learned to edit myself down through multiple versions, but I feel I can push myself a bit more to use less words and more powerful imagery.
Do you have a favorite character you have written? Tell us a little about them.
Olivia Glass. She’s a powerhouse. This woman has just lost her husband, found out a secret he’s been keeping, and when she turns to her family, she learns even worse things… she’s questioning where she went wrong and is too closed-minded to figure it out at first. To readers, it’s quite easy in the beginning. She’s had tunnel vision for years, forgotten her roots, let money color her approach to things, and been hands off in terms of mothering the boys as they became young adults. At the same time, she says and does enough that you want to like her and hope she finds her way. Despite a few slips along the way, she eventually finds a way to re-establish who she once was, but it doesn’t come without major repercussions and losses. Her life isn’t over at ~65, but it will be very different than she planned it to be. What I adore about her is that she can learn and change. She comes from a generation where all the things her sons have done are considered wrong and bad, but in reality, people are different. And we accept one another for who we are at the core, not at the surface. When she can recognize those things, she becomes a mother again. There’s something powerful about a woman who can re-gain control but still make you feel loved and supported.
Did you take any classes in writing or are you more of a natural?
In college, I took a few creative and fiction writing classes. They helped me understand many of the basics, but I’ve not taken any courses in the last 15 years. When I began writing again, I spent some time searching on the Internet to learn more about the publishing industry and editing approaches, but for the most part, I tend to learn on my own. I make a list of my questions or the things I don’t yet have a grasp on, seek those answers specifically, then dive in.
What do you find to be the best thing about writing?
Being able to create a character with flaws whom someone can still love. In reality, that’s hard to do. When someone makes a mistake, or hurts you, people hold grudges and sometimes even lose a relationship over disagreements. In a book, you can play out that scenario in words across hundreds of pages, but also bring them back together in the end. And in some instances, that will bleed into real life and help readers figure out a way to solve their own life dilemmas. I’ve had that experience reading a few books, and it’s quite cathartic and heartwarming.
What process do you use when writing? To outline or not to outline?
I’m an outliner! I usually write a ~25 page outline with full character and setting descriptions, a scene by scene and chapter by chapter bullet point summary, and a target schedule to complete everything. I will know that 3 things need to happen in a Chapter 7, and I’ll know the 2 or 3 scene locations, but how it plays out on the pages is where my creativity works in the moment. Once the first draft is written, I update the outline so it’s as current as possible, then I weave in all the hidden secrets, red herrings, clues, etc.
What’s your favorite book you have read?
Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. It speaks to me on so many levels. It has a character for everyone, one with emotional intelligence, fear, and innocence. It’s a representation of who we are at different points in our lives.
After publication, what do you find to be the hardest part?
Either figuring out how to market or waiting for reviews. You can only do so much as a writer, and once you put your work out there, it’s up to others to react and share. I do a lot of my own marketing, but I have to trust the book will stand on its own two feet and be successful. That’s never easy for a control-freak! 🙂
What other books do you have for the future?
I’ve currently got 4 books in outline format. I plan to write one this summer and publish in the fall, then keep the cycle moving so I can hopefully publish around 2 books every 12 to 18 months. I’m writing: (1) Watching Glass Prequel Short Stories and Sequel, (2) Cozy Mystery Series, (3) Very emotional tale that I can’t stop tearing up over while drafting the outline and (4) thriller / suspense novel.
Any advice to other writers out there?
You must first know why you write and what you want to achieve if you have any chance of being successful. If you don’t know the goals or the reasons, you will flounder for too long.
Have thick skin for negative reviews and feedback, but always be polite and try to learn from it. Never respond back with negativity or rudeness even if someone else is unnecessarily cruel in their review of your work.
Publishing is changing. The market is flooded. People are changing how and when they read. Figure out your niche and keep focusing on how to find those marketing avenues. It is getting less and less easy to sell a best seller when there are so many good authors out there. Have alternative income lines to support yourself so you can do your best work without worrying about paying bills and saving up for the future.