If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?A bed, a shower, and the ability to jot things down. To expand on that: a completely decadent bed with 800 thread count sheets, piles of feather pillows, quilts and a down comforter, a fully functioning solar shower with gallons and gallons of hot water, and a stack of pens or pencils and blank, lined journals.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.Everyone should read Mark of the Loon to experience my characters’ unique, smart, hilarious personalities, incredible friendship, and what it’s like when women can be fabulous buddies who work as a team.
Any other books in the works?Goals for future projects?I’m working on the second book in what will be the “Genevieve Delacourt” series. I fell in love with my Mark of the Loon characters and wasn’t willing to let them go. So I’m now one-third of the way through Rapunzel, which features Genevieve Delacourt and another cast of characters. Truth be told, the sky is the limit for the trouble this group has the potential to get into. I hope to have my second novel out by mid-year 2013, with many more to come.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?I love stories in both books and movies, and I’ve always been a reader. I wrote a really bad novel in the late 1990s, and I’ve written an enormous amount of nonfiction as part of the responsibilities of my day job. I began to develop the plot of Mark of the Loon several years ago as a positive place for my mind to go during a tough time in my life. I discovered what great fun it is to incorporate memories, feelings, and situations into fiction, because you don’t have to stick to the truth or describe events in real time. I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t stop and completed the first draft of the book within about a year.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.It’s a huge accomplishment just to have persevered long enough to write, edit, proof, format, and publish a good story. My reward comes mainly from what I’ve created. Mark of the Loon contains an element of suspense, but is – in many ways – about love. I’ve chronicled the life of a woman whose best friends dish out hard advice, but also sustain her and lift her up without coddling. My book became a narrative about pals who care for one another unconditionally, in spite of their shortcomings. The bond they have is unique, and they don’t take their good fortune for granted. I will do the same!
If you could jump into a book and live in that world, which would it be?I’d love to jump into Mark of the Loon, and rightly so, because that’s why I wrote it. I was envisioning my ideal house and property in a place I’d love to live, so I used Healdsburg, in Northern California, as the setting. I’d live it Madison’s house in that bit of countryside, in a minute!
What is your dream cast for your book?I’d cast Anne Hathaway as Madison, Kate Winslet as Genevieve, and a young Colin Firth as Cole.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?It’s hard work to choose the path of a self-published author. In a perfect world, I think most indies would opt to be traditionally published with generous advances and corporate marketing teams at our beck and call. But it doesn’t work that way very often. More likely, (especially new) writers receive small or nonexistent advances from big publishing houses, it takes two years to get the book to print, authors get no marketing support, and the end result is a good novel that goes nowhere. Cons of indie publishing? Tons of hard work and a steep learning curve. Pros? Huge satisfaction and financial rewards for those who are successful. I consider self-publishing, both fiction and non-fiction, as a new frontier for the creative entrepreneur who understands the power of quality work. My advice? Persevere.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?If I could live anywhere, I wouldn’t choose just one place, but I think one of my homes would have to be in the Pacific Northwest. I miss the moist air and deep green of lush countryside. All that rain would be the perfect vehicle to force me to stay inside and write all winter!
What is your favorite quote?Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters? I’m an over-thinker who speaks her mind and Madison stuffs her emotions, so we’re very different as far as how we cope. But parts of every one of my characters exist within me or my close friends. (Except for Velasco, I wouldn’t actually own up to being like him.) Humans are so complex. Like actors, there’s not an emotion we haven’t felt (or that we haven’t watched someone experience) that we can’t conjure up and write about. Not one. I didn’t have to work to create characters, I just plumbed the depths of my own personality. And people I know :-O
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? To stop blaming others for what wasn’t working in my life and take responsibility for my choices, decisions, and behavior. As a result, I learned that I am the common denominator in all things, both good and bad. That’s actually great news, because if I don’t like the way things are going, I can change it. If I blame someone else, I give away my power and I relinquish my ability to improve future outcomes. Make sense?
Hidden talent?My dad taught me to whistle as well as any man. It’s so much fun to shock people by belting out a whistle as loud as a construction worker. Yay!
If you were a bird, which one would you be?A Grosbeak. A few years ago I was walking through my rural neighborhood early on a hot July morning. I saw my dog sniffing something in the middle of the road. When I caught up, I found him hovering over a newly-fledged baby bird, exhausted and weary, hunkered on the asphalt. A neighbor told me she was a Grosbeak and taught me how to feed her, and she stayed with us through the summer, winging her way beside the dog and I and calling to us –“chit, chit chit”– sometimes hitching a ride on the dog’s back. Just thinking about raising that baby reminds me of the way unconditional love alters us forever for the better.
You have won one million dollars – what is the first thing that you would buy?A cell phone. I don’t actually have one, can you believe it? The truth is, complete and utter financial independence would be lovely. Then I could write full time and buy really expensive furniture. And travel!
Which authors have influenced you the most, and how? Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird was fabulous and I recommend it for any aspiring author. She talks about how writers should listen to conversations around us and fold what we hear into our own characters. As Anne says, it doesn’t get better than real life. As for pure fiction? Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is the funniest stuff I have ever read. I’d give a lot to be able to write like Janet. She’s my heroine.
What do you do in your free time? Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time for anything but writing in my spare time for a while. I’m my best person when I don’t have a lot on my plate, and I’m looking forward to the day when my life returns to that state. It will allow me to enjoy the things I love to do – gardening, decorating houses, browsing thrift shops, writing, my daily walk. Even moving furniture.
What’s your favorite season/weather?Fall is my favorite. I call it “thinking season.” I love the weather when nights are crisp but we still feel the sun on our faces during the day. Fall is the time to do a lot of mental planning about things like characters and plot, because winter is right around the corner and once the weather turns frigid, it’s the season authors get so much work done on our books.
What is your guilty pleasure?Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies from Trader Joe’s.