Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve been sneezed on by an elephant, held at gunpoint and survived a killer California earthquake, which may explain my penchant for writing cliffhangers. After a brief Hollywood acting career, I happily moved behind the camera as Assistant to the Director of Production at The American Film Institute. I’m a former magazine editor and national journalism award winner. I was contributing book editor for Five Minutes to Midnight, an international thriller. The success of that book encouraged me to write my first solo novel, The Body Business, which was a finalist for some national and regional awards. Its sequel, The Body Next Door, is a Chanticleer Mystery & Mayhem Award- and a Readers’ Favorite Mystery Award-Winner.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is The Body Next Door, a multi-award-winning mystery. The inspiration for the entire series is the journey almost all of us makes to try to find a place in this crazy world. So you might say that the book is a mystery in a mystery. As Samantha struggles to discover her true calling, she must work to solve a mystery that is keeping her from reaching her goal.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
What may seem unusual for some seems normal to me. Honestly, I can’t think of any off-beat habits, although I probably have the most cluttered work space of any living writer. I envy ultra-organized writers, but I’ve never been able to write an outline and stick to it. Chaos forces me to focus.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
As a mystery writer, Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew are deep in my bones. Dr. Seuss for children’s silly verse. I was an early reader, and devoured anything I could reach on the bookshelves at home. Lately, books by Paulette Jiles, Jodi Picoult and Anthony Doerr have inspired me to keep working at my craft.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the third “Body” book in The Samantha Newman Mystery Series, and a children’s silly verse series. I’m also doing research for a historical novel set in Mexico and Texas.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I try to promote through well-respected email newsletters and websites, especially those that feature books in my genre. However, my absolute favorite way to connect with readers is one on one through my website, email updates, or face to face at book fests, community events and especially, book clubs. I love connecting with readers! They inspire me to keep writing and to get better every day.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read. Read good books, written by good writers. Get feedback from early readers about your work (not your family or best friend, unless they are book people). Learn the rules of grammar. I’m not saying you have to always abide by them, but know which ones to break, and when. Understand that your job is not over when the book is published. A writer writes, but an author is a business owner. You have to be willing to work at promoting your books, too.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Write every day. Even if your time’s limited, make writing a daily habit.
What are you reading now?
I just finished “News of The World.” Loved it. I’m halfway through “Keepers of the House,” an old Pulitzer Prize winner. And I have about five books in my to-be-read stack, most of them mysteries.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m hoping to get “Body” Book 3 out next year. The Body Next Door just came out in audiobook, and I’ll be doing promotion for that. Then on to my children’s series and writing the historical novel I’ve been researching for almost a decade.
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?
A few from my shelf: All the Light We Cannot See would definitely be one. I’m in love with that book. I’d like to reread Marcus Aurelius. Something by Shel Silverstein. And a single tome that includes the complete works of Shakespeare.