Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I live with my family on a lavender farm in Sonoma Valley, where Jack London wrote his books from his Beauty Ranch. I have written five books, the first is LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA, about the 300 lavender farms and the magical, healing qualities of lavender. I love writing biographical historical novels about remarkable people who lived before us.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON, is based on the love triangle between Houdini, Jack and Charmian London, a little known fact which inspired me to delve further into the astonishing lives of the Londons and Houdinis. I was not disappointed to discover the poverty, struggle and shear ingenuity which drove London and Houdini to become the most iconic men of their generation. Equally, the terrifying secrets with which they wrestled, sexuality, the meaning of fidelity, the driving urge to leave a mark on this life. But the story would not be complete without their wives and their struggle with genius and pathos and love.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write by candlelight beginning at 4am before the household is awake. I need the silence and mystery of the dark morning to hear the story emerge.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Of course, Jack London amazes me, even more than a hundred years later. He was no “pantser” letting a story drift along. Theme was foremost– whether is was the theme of the underdog rising up to claim the life that was rightfully his, or a real dog, torn between his wild instincts and love for man. Other favorite books: Gone With the Wind, for the unforgivable heroine, Scarlet O’Hara, and Doctor Zhivago, for Laura, who gives in to her desires. I like flawed heroines, that choose their fate from an aching heart or ambition too wild to tame. I hate formulaic stories where the heroine wins the man and her dreams come true.
What are you working on now?
CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS, the true story of French widows from the 1800’s who created a thirst for champagne throughout the world.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Goodreads is a phenomenal resource for readers and authors alike.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write everyday, find the obvious and underlying conflict in EVERY scene, make us care about your characters. If we do not care, there is no story.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Get a critique group that works for you. One that is honest, yet encouraging. I have a group that meets on ZOOM, from California, Canada, Spain, Germany and Australia– We critique excerpts of each other’s work weekly, in writing and then discuss “in person.”
What are you reading now?
A Gentleman from Moscow, for my Sonoma bookclub, Salt to the Sea, for my Goodreads Historical Fictionistas Club, a new diet book because that’s what I do every January, every novel and history about Napoleon and French culture and champagne making I can read.
What’s next for you as a writer?
This year, I’ll finish Champagne Widows- Barbe Nicole Clicquot, and there will be a sequel to write next year about the other 4 widows. I also plan to finish a rewrite on MATCHLESS, about the first Silver King, Horace Tabor, and his wife, Baby Doe. It’s always about the woman!
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?
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books, I love to dream of that era. When Elephants Dance, Tess Uriza Holthe. Gone With the Wind, Doctor Zhivago.