Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m thirty-four, I’ve been married for nearly eleven years, and I’m the mother of one four year-old girl. One was enough. She’s darling, she’s amazing, she’s relatively well behaved and we didn’t want to risk the second one being anything but. Hehe. That’s my husband’s answer when people ask.
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job as well?
I have been an environmental scientist for ten years as well. My part-time hours there gave me time to pursue writing. We are a very small company – we just hired our third permanent staff this winter – focusing on native plants of Alberta and working primarily in the boreal forest. That means a LOT of mosquitoes. It also means a lot of driving time to get to work sites. Ideal imagination and outlining time.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I haven’t completely settled into my genre. I love reading YA, Tamora Pierce is probably my favourite author, and have a taste for Fantasy/low Sci Fi. It made sense for me to write that for my first novel. However, my second manuscript is an adult contemporary fiction and my third is a YA paranormal. Yeah, I haven’t settled at all.
Where do you get your ideas?
Most often my dreams. I have a tendency to insomnia, and sometimes I’ll spend the entire night watching a story similar to how I would watch a movie, only with occasional voice overs from the characters… Sounds a lot like a book, doesn’t it? Yeah. I have had mornings where the first thing I do is scribble in a notebook for twenty minutes and still curse that I didn’t get enough of it down. I need some sort of memory recording device… Where’s that sci-fi when I need it?
Do you ever experience writer’s block? Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Most often, I just write. I occasionally get writer’s block, though I don’t think I’d put it quite the rigidly, more like writer’s slog. I’ll push through, write some stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense or doesn’t seem to be going anywhere until the light bulb goes off, usually when I’m rereading that crap, and I’ll change the scene or add what I need and then rip out the junk. My outlines are very sparse, usually a sentence or two for each chapter. The outline is more to remind me where the story is going than to carve a path for it. It gives me that light in the tunnel so I don’t wander too far off the path. However, I find I like to give my characters freedom, so unexpected events do occur while I’m writing, and I don’t want to hinder that. Instead, I take the sudden swerve and try to figure out how I can still get to that end point.
I am an anomaly. I had almost no challenge in getting Cargon published. When I wrote the first draft over a year ago, I wondered if it was any good. I was writing fanfiction in the Twilight fandom at the time and through that found a contest for original fiction hosted by Jennifer Barry. It had an upper limit of 10K words, so I took the opening three chapters and pared them down to that, losing most of the first and about half of the second. I didn’t expect to win and was really looking for the judge’s feedback to help me improve my manuscript. However, I did win, and my excerpt was to be published in the second book of Jennifer’s Kingdom series. She ran into publishing difficulties and in the interim, buoyed by the win, I started querying agents. No agents bit, but Jennifer, in the midst of her publishing woes, found a pair of sisters forming their own company, Martin Sisters Publishing. Jennifer suggested that I submit my manuscript to them. I thought it was a fabulous idea and sent off the first two chapters with my query letter. They asked for a complete, then they offered me a contract. I still can’t believe how easily I found them. I’m their first novel as an independent publisher, so we’re both learning things (like if you hit the button on google books, there isn’t a pending period – it goes live!). As a result I’ve had a bit of a staggered release. The kindle version went up on Amazon and the preview on Google Books in the middle of June. The paper copies were available through Amazon a week later, but the distributor is still processing the book for wide-scale distribution. The average bookstore should be able to order it in now or by the first week of August at the latest.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
More pre-readers! I’m doing this with the second manuscript. I think I expected as part of the publishing/editing process that it would have more pairs of eyes looking at it than it got. I don’t think it suffered greatly for that, but I certainly will make sure future manuscripts are well read before submitting them to my publisher.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
My second manuscript is Thickness of Blood. It evolved from a flash fiction piece based on a picture of a girl with scraped up bloody knees for a ‘taboo’ themed contest. This led to a young man running down a girl while playing tag and assaulting her. It was very creepy, very disconcerting and not much worth on its own. As I mulled those stark images in my mind, I imagined this predator, James, had had other prey in his past. From this came George, the father of another victim. He’s seeking vengeance for his daughter. In his search he comes across Lila, the girl from the original short and feels responsible for not going to the police immediately and stopping James from hurting her. The story is about families, love, healing, and good and bad sexual experiences. After reading my first draft, one of my publishers suggested adding a third victim, someone who doesn’t get the happy ending that Lila and Daphne do. I created Patty and she slipped into the story very nicely. That’s with my last pre-reader.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Thankfully, no. It’s almost entirely imagination. I based George a bit on my own father, and other characters may be similar to people I know, but none of the major plot lines are anything I’ve done or experienced.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The moment Eve picks up the first piece. The whole story really pivots on that day. She starts looking at the world differently and sees so much more when she does. It also introduces the reader to Adam who is a super sweetie who loves her for her brain… awwww.
For Thickness of Blood, my favourite part comes right in the middle, right after George meets Lila and takes her in. She has a revelation in the kitchen that this was what love really was supposed to be. It was very moving.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Yes! Yay for sequels! Cargon ends on a downer. That’s not a spoiler, it’s a warning. Don’t expect a happy ending. I’m hoping to include more of Adam’s young siblings. I’m sure Martina, his cousin, will make a reappearance, and I plan on bringing back most of Eve’s friends among the servants. In the second half of Honour & Priviledge she avoids her friends for the most part and turns down the High One’s offer to make one of them her personal servant. In the sequel, she will have to revisit these connections and will probably tap into those friendships, to her benefit as a leader. I also really liked Jasper, one of her suitors, and Evan was fun, too. They will probably pop in somewhere as well.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Let people read what you write. Yeah, they might not like it. They might tell you things that are hard to hear, but if you don’t let anyone read it, they miss out!
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Usually chocolate, though I prefer the vanilla Girl Guide cookies, go figure.
The light side or the dark side?
Light side. I require sunlight for survival. Also, I don’t imagine I’m good enough to be one of only a pair (as the Sith are) and would rather work in a large group. Finally, Yoda rules.
If you were a superhero (or villain!) what would your power be? Would you wear a cape?
Teleportation. As much as I use that time in the car, I would love to just get up, walk out the door and be at my job site. No cape.
What does your main character think about you? Are you best buds or have you tortured them so much you’d run if you actually ever met?
Haha, no I don’t think Eve would kick my ass. She’d probably challenge me to a game though, and then I would have to run.
What sort of coffee would you order? Simple coffee, complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
I love black coffee. On the other hand I also love cappaccinos with just a little milk and lots and lots of foam. Mmmmm foam.
If you could live off of chocolate would you? What kind?
No, I like way too many other foods. If I could only have one chocolate though, it would be extra dark, probably with almonds.