Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
As the daughter of a bipolar rocket engineer who blew up a number of missiles during the race-to-space 1950s, I learned that if you dare, you eventually succeed, though there may be mishaps along the way. My writing was deeply informed by my father’s avocation as a fine art painter. Hours of watching him at the easel taught me that art is long, takes determination, and can be quietly exciting.
I’ve been writing poetry and fiction all my life. My most recent book, Gods of Water and Air, combines poems, essays, and a short play about the afterlife of dogs. Many pieces recall my southern California coastal hometown of San Pedro, a town full of European immigrants plying their fishing trades, among them a big Italian population, which may be what drew me to study and visit Italy.
I’m the author of a novel, The Renaissance Club, and Gods of Water and Air, a collection of poetry, prose, and drama, as well as two other poetry collections, Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau. My poetry and prose have appeared in Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, The Pedestal, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. My fourth poetry collection, Arabesque, is forthcoming in August 2018 from FutureCycle Press.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My debut novel is The Renaissance Club. It was inspired by an art history trip to study the Italian Renaissance. I wrote inspired essays on Italy and art, and one was included in a wonderful anthology, Italy: A Love Story: Women Write About the Italian Experience (Seal Press).
My novel, The Renaissance Club, resulted from that Italian art experience. It’s a time travel story featuring a young art historian, whose specialty is the sculpture of the 17th century artist Gianlorenzo Bernini, and what happens when time bends and they meet. It was released from Fiery Seas Publishing in January 2018 and is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.
Some people have asked me if there will be a sequel. At first I said it’s a standalone. But then I got an idea. So stay tuned. I think the magical time travel guide of The Renaissance Club could be popping up somewhere else, perhaps with another tour group.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t know if it’s unusual, but I dedicate the first two hours of each morning to creative work, fiction or poetry or both. I can write in total silence or on a bus bench on a noisy street, but not to songs with words.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Jane Austen, Ann Patchett, Annie Dillard are big influences in style and subject.
What are you working on now?
The Romantics is a novel about two half-sisters who clash over inheriting a cottage on the Ligurian coast of Italy, with its resident ghost of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. When one sister suffers a tragic accident, each must decide what sisterhood is worth to her.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
People told me that promoting my book should be fun and easy — and I wanted to ask, are you crazy? When there are millions of books out there competing for attention, getting your published book to shine in a spotlight that readers can find seems at first like finding a gold ring that’s been thrown into the ocean. Turns out, book promotion is a snap if you do it the easy and natural way. Starting where you are, with who you are and what kinds of social interactions make you comfortable and seem like fun. Making friends is one of the best ways to create readers, a natural followup to a genuine connection. Social media is great for that. If you’re averse to it, my advice is to find a corner of the online world you can enjoy and feel yourself in. And then explore! And remember that most books are sold one at a time, whether in a bookstore or on Facebook. We new authors are fragile creatures, and we must also remember to let ourselves hide and be creative every day, away from the public eye, and wherever we like doing our work. Some people say the best thing you can do for your last book is write your next one. I believe it.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Write what you want to read.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading a fascinating novel with historical dimensions called Wrapped in the Stars by debut author Elena Mikalsen. The story is of two female physicians a century apart, who yet share many life and professional challenges. The story of the turn-of-the-20th-century woman doctor is especially touching, for the way she meets those challenges with courage and compassion.
What’s next for you as a writer?
A new poetry book comes out in August — Arabesque. It’s a collection that considers subjects like being creative and making art, following a pathway of self-exploration, coping with loss and grief, and the ranges and dimensions of love. As my website tagline says, “in my world, love always wins.” In some way.
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?
Aside from my one most important book on spiritual principles, I’d take one Jane Austen novel (probably Emma), an English language translation of Marcel Proust’s novel (Wikipedia cites it as the longest novel ever written, making it good for rereading), and the Encyclopedia Brittania.