Everywhere. From living life, from watching life, and from a whole lot of wondering. Writing is how I explore those things I wonder about. And most stories don’t just have one “inspiration” but many. It takes a long time to write a book. Lots of mini inspirations or wonderings jump on the train during the process.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
The first draft. I don’t have a roadmap of where I am going–I just have to trust the process and believe that I will get there. That makes for many hair-pulling moments.
What do you do when you are faced with writer’s block? What helps you get over it?
Lots of things help me. Reading, long walks, listening to music, driving, showers, and especially goals. Sometimes you just have to sit your butt in the chair and write even if you aren’t feeling “inspired.” Writing is fun but it is also hard work.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in becoming an author and how did you overcome it?
Rejection. That is what every author faces, and I've had plenty. The only way to overcome it is persistence. You can't give up. You lick your wounds, improve your writing, and keep right on trying. That is how virtually every author gets published. They are too stubborn to quit.
How did you celebrate publishing your first book?
When “the” call came, I still remember jumping up and down in the kitchen with both of my daughters and squealing. That was all the celebration I needed.
Will you ever write a sequel to Scribbler of Dreams?
No. Right after "where do I get my ideas" this is hands down, my most frequently asked question, but I think Kaitlin and Bram's story is complete. However, I do have a story idea simmering that I think might appeal to Scribbler fans. We'll see.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
READ. Reading is, without a doubt, the best preparation for a writer. You can take classes and be told how to write, but reading hundreds of books internalizes what it takes to tell a good story. There is an old saying that you must read a thousand books before you can write one. That is very close to the truth.
Did you read a lot when you were a kid?
Yes. I was a very quiet child and I loved to read. I even read the encyclopedias in our house just for fun. I'd pull a random one out, flip it open to a page and read whatever I stumbled upon.
Do you have any pets?
I have one very spoiled golden retriever, Hunter. Brody, Hunter's brother, passed away and we miss him very much. In the past we have also had lop-eared bunnies, rats, love birds (not so lovey), lizards, gold fish, and hermit crabs.
How did you survive your teen years?
Three F's. Friends, Faith, and Family. They were all there for me at various rough patches.
Have you ever written something that you felt uncomfortable writing, knowing that your family and friends will probably end up reading it?
Not uncomfortable at the time of writing it, because right then all I care about is the character, but later after A Room on Lorelei Street was finished, I worried about a few people who might raise their eyebrows at certain parts. My fears were unfounded. They took the parts I worried about in stride, I think because these passages were true to the story.
Tell us about fan reaction to your books.
I am always amazed when I receive fan mail and how each reader is able to focus in on a different aspect of the story. Different parts have more meaning and importance to one reader than another. I find it humbling because I don’t really own the words or their meaning and once a book is published it takes on a whole new life, becoming whatever the reader creates as a result of their own life experiences. It is like my book is many books instead of just one and each one is true and valid. I find this fascinating. I recently read a quote that went something like, "No two people ever read the same book." And I find that to be absolutely true and the magic of story.
Are you working on anything right now?
I am always working on something. As soon as I finish one book I begin another. Sometimes I have to take breaks from my writing because of all the related “stuff” I must do with published books, but there is always one waiting for me back at my computer.
I am working on a story. Could you read it and give me some advice?
Sorry, no. I wish I could but I get many requests like this and I wouldn’t have time to write if I said yes to them all. I encourage you to find a critique group. Every writer needs support and feedback. Your local librarian, English teacher, or the SCBWI might be able to help you find a writing group near you.
What do you hope the reader will remember or take away after they have read one of your books?
There’s a hundred different answers to that depending on the book and the reader but a few thoughts . . . I hope that perhaps they will remember seeing themselves and feeling less alone, or remember stretching to ponder new ideas or viewpoints, or remember walking in someone else's shoes and gaining a new perspective, or perhaps simply remembering a fond few hours where they were able to escape into a different world where they shared a journey with me.
And a few of NOT so frequently asked questions:
As a young person, who did you look up to most? My sister. I was five years younger and I tagged along behind her incessantly and she was always nice to me and always included me. Of course during our teen years we had a few arguments—mostly over the bathroom—but other than that we have always gotten along great. She is a strong, even-tempered, salt-of-the-earth kind of person and I still look up to her.
What was your most embarrassing moment as a teen? I had a brand new bikini made out of terry cloth. I had just arrived at a pool with a bunch of friends and decided to dive in first. I dove right out of my bikini bottoms. Completely out. They were floating in the pool behind me! I never stopped to think that terry cloth would soak up the water as soon as I hit it. Needless to say, I never wore that suit again.
What’s your ringtone? Classical Gas. I always want my phone to ring just so I can listen to the tune.
Have you ever faked a bad connection to end a call? Guilty as charged.
Have you ever stolen anything? A book when I was four years old. I was so intently reading it, my parents didn’t realize I walked right out of the store with it. They took me back and paid for it.
Would you ever do Karaoke? Only if I wanted to be very cruel to those who had to listen to me.
What is the most unusual food you’ve ever eaten? Cow intestines. I will try just about anything once, but I won’t be trying those again.
Do you have any irrational fears? I tend to hold my breath when I cross bridges over water. This can be a problem when crossing long bridges.
Which super power would you want to have? Flying without a doubt!
What is your worst habit? Laughing at inopportune moments. I suppose it is nervous laughter, but my husband has already told me that I can’t attend his funeral.
What was your worst subject in school? Math. I am not a numbers person. I can barely remember how old I am—which is sometimes convenient.
If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want for company? My husband. He is my best friend, makes me laugh, and one of the smartest people I know. He’d figure out a way to “unstrand” us—that is, if we even wanted to get off the island. Being stranded on a desert island with him doesn’t sound so bad. Sort of a forced vacation. Can we have a pile of books too?
Finish this sentence: People might be surprised if they knew I was good at . . . Roof repairs. Actually, I'm the handy person around the house. I grew up with a dad who could fix anything and never met a tool he didn't like, so taking my dad's lead I will attempt almost anything. I remember when a tree branch fell through our roof and when I went to Home Depot for supplies the sales guy took one look at me and said, "you'll never be able to fix it." Ha! That was the wrong thing to say to me. After that I think I would have fixed it myself if I had to cut each shingle with my teeth.