Q: What is the story of how you came up with the idea for GUILD OF IMMORTAL WOMEN.
In 2007 my father died. We had been estranged for most of my life and we had just spent the last couple of years rebuilding a relationship. I went to my best friend’s house to do some healing and she reminded me of the book idea she had told me about years before. She convinced me to write it as a way of grieving.
Q: How did you pick the women who would be Immortal?
Holly wanted Joan of Arc to be Amelia Airhardt and had always been set on Eleanor as the head of the Guild. As for the others, we literally sat on the phone - me in Seattle and she in southern California - and searched the internet for the most interesting women we could find. I was surprised at the lack of information on famous females of ancient times!
Q: What was the hardest part of writing your books?
Editing! That answer is easy - it's always the editing. As writers we put so much of our life and soul into these written pages! Many of us slave over specific words or phrases for hours. None of that matters in editing. If it doesn't work for the story or pacing, out it goes. Books are so much like turkey at Thanksgiving - one knows about the preparation of an eloquent meal, but when you have to face the heat of the kitchen yourself....oy! Another story.
Q: What project are you working on now?
Once TRAVELS WITH PENNY and GUILD are out into the world, I'd like to take a short break first. I feel pretty ragged about now...signings, book festivals and so forth take a lot out of you. When I'm back at the keyboard, I have another work, ANGAKOK, with Booktrope, that needs some attention. Tick tock!
Q: What is the most interesting part of your daily life?
Wow. Good question. I never saw myself as having a particularly interesting life. But, then again, "interesting" is relative, isn't it? My day jobs are a sign language interpreter, instructor at a community college and theatre director. I like to think that just by showing up I get a full plate of drama and entertainment.
Q: What is your writing process like?
I've always been one of those people who sees entire scenes in my head. As soon as a scene appears, I try to rush over to the keyboard and get it down. The problem is that the scenes don't always appear in the correct order. I see the end of a book (or play, as I'm also a playwright) first, or the dramatic climax first. Every so often I write down the scenes on index cards and lay them on the floor to see what piece of the story is missing. Maybe this is why editing is so difficult.
Q: So you don't pre-plan your work?
Not usually, no. I follow the age-old advice of "write with the end in mind" as well as my characters, but not much else. I've found this syle has pros and cons - like anything - but for me it works. I set out with my characters' having a goal, some personality quirks and things they are afraid of. Then, I just throw obstacles at them. It easier with something like TRAVELS, as it was a memoir and I didn't have to invent anything. If you knew my family, you'd understand. Once I got over my anger at them, I learned to see them as an entire lifetime of entertainment value.
Q: What advice do you give new writers?
Write. Write what you see. Write what you feel. Somewhere, somehow, someone is going to love your stuff. But always remember - someone is going to hate it as well. Ultimately, you need to be satisfied with what you're doing.
Q: Any last words?
Yes. Make sure to have a life. Let your art flow from your observations of the everyday; don't lock yourself away in some dark, dank place with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a laptop. We are on this Earth to engage with our surroundings; to love and experience this great thing called LIFE.