What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I procrastinate. That ends up biting me later. Although I do really well under pressure, especially with deadlines, I also love to read, and I get seduced by the thought of an afternoon on the couch with whatever I’m reading. So I end up reading instead of writing. I make my deadlines, but the last day or two gets ugly. Really ugly.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I lost everything I owned except for a few belongings and mementos – and my kids — in a brutal divorce. Starting over from that point really taught me who was on my side and that possessions are not important. And instead of being a shadow, and afraid of life, I learned how powerful one woman can be. Surviving that means that everything else is bonus.
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Right now, it’s the deck of our home in the Russian River Valley, California, where I can look up at the hawks and the redwoods, hear country noises, and smell the bay leaves, redwood bark, and wildflowers. It is the most relaxing place to hang out, just minutes from the river or local wineries, but it’s also a great place to plug in the laptop and work for a few hours. Either way, I love it. I also loved Paris. But it’s harder to get to.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing? I’m one of five children – and I have five children – so I’d say that living in a full house has always pushed me to find my own space. That was a kneehole under the kitchen desk when I was very small where I would play, but books became my “own room,” and then writing stories and poems. I “found” myself by being surrounded by people and seeking silence. And now? Sometimes I work wearing earplugs. Silence is important.
Who or what influenced your writing over the years? I have been in writing groups, a masters’ writing program, and a creative collaboration group. I did not find any of those to be especially beneficial. Too many egos. Best advice I ever got was from a book called Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein. He gives great direction on how to triage a book, how to edit it from its weakest point, and how to create resonance in your work. That, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, have been most helpful to me.
What do you consider most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? The hardest thing is to just keep going, and not worry about what other people think. If you are writing for approval, you’d better find out how to approve of yourself. You can’t create art to receive approval. It doesn’t work that way. The story will suffer, and so will you. Just keep swimming, as the fish says, and keep honing your craft. When you’re good at something, you don’t need anyone’s approval.
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Genre – Romantic Suspense
Rating – PG13
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