Have you ever gotten an idea for a book or part of one of your novels from something or somewhere unexpected?
Oh absolutely! Part of the inspiration for my latest adult novel came from looking at my daughter’s Barbie fairies – I would never have expected to find inspiration in a Barbie, that’s for sure. I often find inspiration when reading non-fiction, even things wholly unrelated to my subject. I was reading about duality in a C.S. Lewis book when I got the idea for Delcroix Academy. I realized that the traditional science fiction/fantasy book pits good guys versus bad guys, and it’s always really obvious which is which. I thought it would be interesting to write a book in which the two sides were blurred, and no one, including the heroine, was entirely sure which side she was on.
Did you always know you would write a novel? Why did you finally decide to write one and when?
I had dreams of writing a novel for as long as I can remember, but had never gotten close before I started high school, when my family got its first desktop computer. Handwriting a novel had never worked for me. I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with my brain, and I would get frustrated and give up quickly. Being able to type, edit, and see the words on the screen changed everything.
What are five things that are must haves when you are writing?
Honestly, because I have kids and had a day job for most of my writing career, I had to squeeze in my writing time whenever I could get it. I couldn’t afford to have “must haves.” But there are definitely things I like to have! Quiet (I don’t understand writing playlists – I stop paying attention to what I’m writing if a song comes on that I like!); my laptop (tried writing on my iPad but it wasn’t very successful); space (writing around people with constant interruptions drives me crazy) ; coffee (perhaps not necessary, but definitely helps). I guess that’s only four. ;-)
Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?
Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is a beautiful memoir about writing, but also about living. Anne constantly reminds us not to judge ourselves, to let go of our fear, and to get the words on the page. Good reminders for anyone, writer or not.
What is the hardest emotion for you to convey?
Sadness. I get so deeply entrenched in my character’s lives that I have a very hard time torturing them and making them sad, the way a good author must. It’s my authorly Achilles heel.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you!
I have a Master’s degree in recreation and leisure studies (you didn’t even know you could get a Master’s degree in leisure, did you?). Before I went to law school, I moved around a lot, and worked as a guide for backcountry canoeing and kayaking trips, and taught kids to rock climb.
Which came first for you--the characters, the idea for the setting, or the plot?
The theme, really – the question of what is good and what is bad, and how in real life you don’t get to make easy choices labeled “right” and “wrong”. Next came the title , Taking Sides (which was later changed to Delcroix Academy: The Candidates), because I knew my book should be about a character being forced to take sides in this muddy, grey world. Then came the plot. Superpowers, romance – I wanted my character to have to pick sides, pick boys, etc. Then I started writing, and the voice of my character came to life, really without much forethought. I think she was there all along.