Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Well, I’m a Scorpio.
I love long romantic walks on the beach. Pina coladas and making love after midnight on the dunes of the Cape…
Sorry, I got sidetracked there for a minute. I like to think I’m a funny person, but I’m more just super-sarcastic with a streak of snarkiness in there at times. Don’t start a phrase or say something that might be, or could tangentially be, related to any song, ever, because I will probably (definitely) start singing before you finish whatever you were starting to say. Hold the coffee, I prefer tea. My favorite show is Supernatural and I’m team Steve from Stranger Things, all the way. In a contest between Thor and Aquaman, I’ll take either for the winner, and offer myself, personally, as the caregiver for the loser.
I have my MFA in Creative Writing, a BA in English, and a close personal relationship with the backspace key on my keyboard. We’re tight.
I’ve been writing since I was in eighth grade. It was a dark and stormy evening, probably, when I started, or, I remember reading Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Dart,” (which is probably not appropriate for a 13-year-old, in retrospect, but I loved it) and Elizabeth Hayden’s Symphony of Ages series, and falling in love with the worlds those authors created, their ability to craft a universe on paper that I could walk through, and wanting to be able to do that for myself and share that with others. It was the first time I realized that I could do more than just dream about all those wonderful stories in my head, but that I could share them too, and that was a heady sort of feeling.
It was a bit of a setback to realize that not everyone wanted to share in those dreams with me, but then I realized, the people who did were the ones I was writing for.
Writing, for me, is about being able to offer someone else a chance to escape.
Whether it’s creating a fantasy world where ogres and mermaids find a weird sort of relationship with each other, or harkening back to Old England and telling a story about zombies falling in love over regency dresses, books offer a chance to move beyond the world around us into something more, and that’s what I love about being an author.
I’m currently writing a series of intertwined stories that take place in a world where magic still reigns. I’ve always been fascinated by fairy tales, enamored of the way the hero and heroine always somehow managed to find each other with happily ever after (until I started reading the original Grimm rather than the Disney-ized versions, and then things got twisty). But to me, those stories were always lacking the heart of what makes a book so engaging, the emotion and the complexity of a long novel, of developing a character, of asking why and learning the answer, struggling, and overcoming, and developing relationships between the participants in the story. So I started rewriting fairy tales with a bit more…oomph.
Currently, I think, I’m at about four novels/novellas in the series, and three short stories that all play around fairy tale retellings, mostly.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My first series is about Cinderella, if Cinderella were an assassin sent to kill the prince who decided to save his life instead.
My current project is about Beauty and the Beast and deciding what is more beastly, a hideous face, or a hideous personality. It’s called “So Sweet,” because when I was writing this story, I kept thinking back to Shakespeare’s “A rose by any other name.” How a face can change, but what’s on the inside remains the same.
Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorite stories, so tearing it apart, using it as a background only so far as the very most basic of ideas, has been difficult, and, I hope, incredibly rewarding. It’s one of the stories I’m most proud of.
I’ve also been privileged enough to work in a bunch of anthologies lately, including “The Fountain,” which just released, in which my story is about a magistrate and a thief who venture together to try and save a young bride from a hoard of cannibals, and an anthology due out in February 2018 entitled “Sinfully Delicious,” in which the gingerbread man comes to life to save his beloved troll princess.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think I have any unusual habits. I wish I did. That would totally make for more interesting reading, but I’m pretty normal. As long as I have a pen and paper or my laptop, I can write anywhere.
Now, I do have a weirdly anal post writing process. I tend to write my story, and then outline it, create a timeline for it, create a character chart and a bible for that narrative, add in that information to the grander encyclopedia of the whole series, after I’ve written everything…but that’s not that weird, right?
I was always told to outline, but outlining never worked for me when I started out. I tend to do that more now than I used to, but it’s generally a very basic, threadbare list of bullets of what should happen, not the whys or hows which I let come more organically throughout the writing process. I do fill those in later, but that’s mainly because I’m too lazy to reread what I’ve written when I start a new project, so it’s a lot easier to have an outline or timeline of what’s come before handy for that.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Anne Bishop’s “Black Jewels Trilogy.” Laurel K. Hamilton’s “Meredith Gentry Series.” Elizabeth Hayden’s “Symphony of Ages.” Elizabeth Kerner. K. A. Applegate. Neil Gaiman. Edgar Allen Poe. The Brothers Grimm. Shakespeare.
The beautiful thing about being a writer, is that you also have to be, in some part, a reader. I have my favorites, obviously, but every author has a style that you can learn from, either to emulate or to say: “that’s not for me.” Everything I read has influenced me in some way, and that’s a good thing. From newspaper articles which teach brevity, to poetry which teaches conscious, articulate word choice, every author has something to add to the literary world that we live in.
Okay, you caught me…I kinda geek out about this sort of stuff. Next question, please…
What are you working on now?
Well, I’m working on two projects, three projects (?) that I’m super excited about. The first is a dragon anthology piece which is with a fantastic group of women who are amazing and I cannot wait to see what we all come up with. The second is a follow-up story to my judge and thief piece for The Fountain in which my thief turns out to be a basilisk shifter who needs a snake-charmer to help her overcome her inner fang-i-ness. And the third, which I’m super excited about but this is a longer project/labor of love type of thing, is a story about Rumpelstiltskin, Maleficent, and Ursula…yeah. It’s gonna be epic (and, spoiler, Ursual…huge b****).
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have no idea. If I had an answer, I would share it, but there are so many options and so many different ideas about promoting your books, that I can’t tell you beyond to say: I’m working on it.
While I can say Facebook drives me insane most days, it’s a huge way of getting in touch with and building relationships with readers. Same for Twitter (and Instagram, though I don’t use that one, so I can’t really speak to it). Any platform which allows you to interact with the people reading your books is a good way to go, because in the end, they’re the ones I’m writing for!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Don’t panic. Don’t stress. And don’t expect to hit number one without a lot of work.
I think a lot of upcoming authors think that they’re book is the next end-all-be-all, and for some people, it’s going to be, but not everyone is going to feel that way. Realizing that not everyone is as excited about your story as you are is a super hard lesson and can be super discouraging. Don’t let it be. Write because it is your passion and it is your joy. Write first for you because you have a story that needs to be told. Your readers will find you. It might take a while, but they’ll find you, and they’ll love you, and that’s what’s most important.
Don’t be afraid of rejection. Don’t be afraid of slow or low sales. Develop a tough skin, but remember, that tough skin protects the passion and creativity within which should never be ignored or dismissed or pushed down.
Be a champion for your own voice. And be a champion for all authors out there. Writing is a tough business, made tougher when we start being snide and uncaring towards one another. Spread love and share passion. That’s probably one of the most important things I’ve learned too.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Short, sweet, and so true: Write what you love and love what you write.
What are you reading now?
Oh man, I have so much stuff on my Kindle…
Don’t get me wrong. I’m totally a paperback promoting till the end, but having an eReader has changed my life. It means I can have five hundred books between my fingers at any given time, which is amazing.
But currently, currently I’m writing. Which sounds silly, I know, but I try to focus on one thing at a time, and when I start a book I get consumed, and with all my upcoming due dates, I’ve gotta stay focused on the pen right now.
(But I have my standbys for those moments when I need to remember why I write, those books I love that I can reread over and over and take heart in. Those don’t count as distractions. Best one, right now, “Styxx,” by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Or “The Hero’s Crown” by Robin McKinley. Seriously, cannot get farther apart here, but both books…so good.)
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m going to Disneyland!
Okay, I wish I was going to Disneyland, but for now, work, write, dream, repeat. It’s not sexy, and sometimes it’s downright stressful, but finding a routine and sticking to that is important, and right now, that’s what’s next for me!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
I feel like I should answer “Where the Wild Things Are,” just because, but I wouldn’t actually take it with me. I’m going to cheat and take a Survival guide book, because I’m allowed to. Probably a book on edible and medicinal plants. A Kiss of Shadows because I’ll need some entertainment, and a note-book…I’m assuming in my plant book there will be something about making writing implements at some point, or maybe in the survival book.