1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always been drawn to words and stories, especially the transformative power they hold. For me, there’s a special beauty in discovering a perfectly placed quote. And it’s a really individual thing, something I might find meaning in, another person could over look completely. It just depends on how the reader connects to the writer’s words. I’ve always thought that kind of relationship was powerful but I don’t think there was a particular lightbulb moment where I was like, “Hey! This is my thing.” It was more of a gradual build and something that was always in the back of my mind. I finally got to a point where other people were reading snippets of stories I had started and were pushing me to finish them.
2.What is the first book that ever made you cry?
Gosh, that’s a tough one, but the first story that came to mind was I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green. The first time I full ugly cried (like had to stop and get a tissue because I couldn’t even see the page anymore) was when Dumbledore died. Am I allowed to say that? Is that still considered a
spoiler? I read the book before my mom and put a post-it at the beginning of the chapter warning her to keep her tissues handy.
3.How long does it take you to write a book?
Well, technically I started Mother of Shadows in 2014, and I would find the file every 6 months to a year and dabble in it a bit before I finished it over the course of 6 weeks earlier this year. If you added all the time I actually spent on the book over the last 3 years, it would probably only be about 8 weeks.
4.Do you have any bizarre writing quirks?
I don’t think so... I do find that those quiet moments in between hitting the snooze button tends to be when my brain starts to build potential moments in my stories.
5. Where do you get your book ideas?
Probably daydreams. I sit in traffic a lot, so I come up with stories to help pass the time. I tend to think of scenarios before I discover the characters.
6. What do you do when you are not writing?
All of the usual things! I love spending time with family and friends (especially my little cat Henry!) I’m an avid video game player and love to binge on books and tv shows. Oh, and work... that tends to take up a lot of writing time.
7. What does your family think of your writing?
My family is super supportive. My mom was one of the first people to read my first love scene, which looking back is pretty awesome. My grandma isn’t much of a reader, but she promised that my book would be the first she would ever read. I think they’re planning on reading it out loud, come to think of it I might need to find a reason to be out of town that day.
8. Do you hear much from your readers? What kinds of things do they say?
So far, I think I can count the number of people that have read my story on both hands, but the general consensus has been something along the lines of, “Is this a freaking cliffhanger?!?!” “OMG I need a Talyrian!” “I want Darrin to end up with Helena” and then about 20 minutes later, “Scratch that, Von is super hot.” lol.
9. What do you think makes a good story?
For me, it’s about the chemistry between the characters, an author’s attention to detail (ie: when something small early on in the story becomes big at the end) and something unexpected. A great story draws you in right away, keeps you hooked as you’re reading it, and when a story is exceptionally good you’re going to feel something as you read it.
10. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I feel super energized while I’m in the middle of it, but when I finish a session my brain is total mush for a few hours.
11.What are common traps that new authors fall into?
I think authors can tend to worry too much about what their readers are going to think or want, and that can stifle their creativity. I was a reader long before I was a writer and while there are common themes/storylines I enjoy, I don’t need to read the same book written by 7 different people. As a writer, you need to trust in your voice and your instincts. I also think authors can try to force their characters/story in a certain direction which is when they’ll experience “writer’s block.” Your story evolves as you write and doesn’t always end up where you think it’s going to. As weird as it sounds, I don’t think you can always have every detail plotted out in advance, there’s got to be a certain element of spontaneity - that’s where the magic comes from.
12. Have you ever got READERS Block?
OMG Yes! Although it’s also sort of like Reader ADD - I either can’t decide what kind of book I want to read, or I’ll start about 5 or 6 books and not finish any of them. This usually happens after a particularly strong book hangover. It’s not always easy to jump into a new world when your head and heart are firmly rooted in another.
13. If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
Believe in yourself! I had so many ideas and so many stories that I started and got rid of, or never wrote down at all, because I didn’t think they were good enough. I wish I had pushed myself to write more then, even if it was in a classroom setting, so that I would have more tools and confidence now.
14. What was the best money you ever spent as an author?
I flew out to a book signing in New Orleans this year (Naturally Naughty in NOLA) and got to meet some amazing indie authors. Everyone was so kind and helpful, many offering their help and support even before I asked for it. It introduced me to the community in a big way, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be
where I am now without them.
15. What does literary success look like for you?
For me, it’s a sea of readers hungry for more of my books. It takes time, talent and a lot of luck to build that kind of following, but I would love to be able to connect to people on that kind of level.
16. Tell us about your book.
Mother of Shadows holds a very special place in my heart. It’s a fantasy romance that follows Helena as she learns about the part she plays in a rather infamous prophecy. She learns that not only is she one of the Chosen, a group of people gifted with magic, but she is also destined to be their ruler. Part of her claiming this title calls for her to undergo a trial to test her new found magic and for her to find her soul mate. It was really important to me to write the kind of book I love to read, so there’s a pretty epic love story, a lot of sass (especially from the supporting characters) and a taste of some darker elements that will be developed throughout the rest of the series.
17. Do you sometimes find yourself Googling yourself?
Only to make sure all of the embarrassing photos don’t come up!
18. Describe how you felt when you published your first book.
I haven’t yet, but everything is very surreal. I’m constantly surprised when people tell me they are in love with my book. I don’t think they realize how much it means to me!
19. What’s coming next?
Reign of Ash, Book Two of The Chosen.
20. Do you have a favorite book?
I could never pick just one! I do have books that I find myself constantly rereading. The Harry Potter series is among them. All of Sarah J Maas’ books as well. I have a hard time letting go of characters that I fall in love with.