I think I started writing the moment I started reading. They say to find out who first inspired a writer to write, you have to ask who first inspired him or her to read! And I believe that's true. My mom created a small library for my two sisters and me when we were young. And my grade school teachers only helped to fuel my love for reading. My two favorite authors growing up were L.M. Montgomery, who created Anne of Green Gables and Shel Silverstein, who wrote the poems I fell in love with in Where the Sidewalk Ends. My mom introduced me to L.M. Montgomery. My second grade teacher first got me hooked on Silverstein. And I believe it was that same second grade teacher who also published my first book in construction paper and staples! So, reading and writing have always been a part of my life, thanks to some very special people.
But it hasn't always been fiction for me. At a young age, I decided I wanted to be the next Katie Couric--but the writing equivalent--and work for the New York Times. I went to school and got my degree in newsprint journalism and worked as a government and business reporter for several years before I had a change of heart. And after writing my first novel, Butterfly Weeds, I rediscovered my love for fairy tales. And I never looked back!
What's the story behind your latest book?
For All You Have Left is a story near and dear to my heart. It's a story about a girl finding her first love only to have life throw her a curve ball. And suddenly, she is forced to start over. But beginning again doesn't come easy. The dreams she'll never see and the nightmares she wishes she couldn't see still haunt her. And she wonders if she has enough love left for the man who's forcing her to take a second look at life. And ultimately, she hopes the secret she's hiding from him won't crush them both.
For All You Have Left is due out Feb. 11! I hope you have a chance to pick up a copy and read more about Logan and Jorgen's story!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing gives me an opportunity to tell a story that would otherwise never be told. And it gives me so much joy to breathe life into the characters in my stories. I think that's the best part really. As I'm writing, my characters take on personalities and stories of their own. Sometimes, I think they are a reflection of a person or a combination of people I know in real life, but somehow, they take on a life of their own. I get so excited about my characters. I love Will and Julia from Butterfly Weeds and Andrew, Jorgen and Logan from For All You Have Left. But I also love their supporting characters as well. And sometimes, those supporting characters are the most fun to create! So, in the end I guess, it's these characters and their stories that make me the most happy when I write! And I'm just so thankful and humbled that readers have welcomed these same characters that I love so much into their hearts as well.
What do your fans mean to you?
My readers mean the world to me. And I cannot say that enough. Without your love for Butterfly Weeds or My Butterfly or For All You Have Left, these stories would never be what they are today! In fact, My Butterfly, the sequel to Butterfly Weeds, was never planned. It wasn't until readers asked to hear Will's story that I even thought about writing a sequel. So, readers single-handedly brought that story to life! I am just so grateful and so humbled by your constant support and kind words. Seriously, every comment, every "like," every kind review means the world to me. And I couldn't do this without you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, you'll probably find me reading or hanging out with my husband. My husband and I met in college, and now we live in the same town as that college, so we take every opportunity we get to see a sporting event there. It doesn't matter what it is, we'll watch anything from football to golf! We also love spending time with our friends and family. My two-year-old nephew and three-month-old niece are my latest obsessions. I can't help but spoil them rotten and then give them back to their mom and dad! Aunts can do that, right?! We also love movies, and I can't go two days not seeing Chopped on the Food Network without having withdrawals!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The Five Little Kittens. I was eight. It was illustrated with puff paint.
Describe your desk.
Right now? A computer. A bendable lamp that reminds me of the lamp from Toy Story. A stapler (even though I never use it). A tiny black purse that spits out sticky notes. I'm obsessed with sticky notes! A high heel shoe that also acts as a tape dispenser. A lot of paper and notes (a trait I picked up in my newspaper days). A Cherished Teddies bear eating out of a honey jar. A ticket stub from my favorite movie in 1999. The price on the ticket is $5. A planner. And a bottle cap that has a quote from Gandhi on the inside: To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves. It reminded me of my dad, so I kept it.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Until I was ten, I lived in a tiny town along the Missouri River. The population of the town was about 200, but I lived outside that town in the river bottoms. And I'm pretty sure I got my imagination at this stage in my life. There wasn't much to do, so I literally had to make up things to do! In 1993, my family and I lost our home in a flood and called it quits farming the river bottoms. We moved to the next town over (my dad's old stomping grounds) and planted ourselves on top of a pretty big hill. So, if it flooded there, we figured we'd build an ark! I probably got my endurance from that part of my life. And both the imagination and the endurance have helped immensely in my writing career--especially the endurance. As with everything, you've got to keep at it if you want it!
Additionally, I write stories about what I know. I grew up on a farm in small-town Missouri, so my characters and stories reflect this life and hopefully pay homage to the country life and all that goes with it, including the rain on tin roofs, old trucks with holes in the floorboards and summer nights full of stars, fireflies and tractor pulls!
This interview can also be found at Smashwords.com.