Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m an award winning writer, trained artist, former attorney, pizza lover, and hard-core Bollywood fan. My professional background is in art and law; I have a BFA in Sculpture and a J.D. and taught both creative writing and legal research and writing at several fine institutions, including the University of Minnesota. Other than writing, I’m into hiking, traveling, Albert Camus, Dr. Seuss, dark chocolate, coffee, exploring mysterious places, and meeting new people. I adore people—if you’re human (or otherwise), odds are I’ll probably love you!
As far as books go, I’ve written seven whole books and three half books, so I guess if you squish them all together the tally comes to 8 1/2 – which I like to pretend is a shout out to Federico Fellini’s wildly creative movie, “8 1/2.”
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My newest book ‘Between Wild and Ruin’ officially launched September 28, 2019.
I fell in love with the Glorieta Pass and the Pecos Pueblo here in Northern New Mexico (USA) — which are both magical places. After exploring the area, I desperately wanted to write a story that took place there. I’m a place-centric person, and often fall for scenery, land, and the feel of a location, and end up wanting to write novels about an area long before I figure out the plot or story. In that way, my story’s setting is often as much a character as the people, which is definitely the case in Between Wild and Ruin. Between Wild and Ruin’s actual plot though, the short answer is that it initially evolved over a sleepless night. I’m an insomniac, and like a lot of writers, tell myself stories about things that interest me in order to turn off my mind and fall asleep. I hate to being boring, but plot-wise, this was one of them. The longer answer is a little more mystical and would probably take a couple of blog posts to explain.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Not really. I’m pretty boring in that I just write when I want to (and I always want to). Unlike a lot of authors, I don’t outline, or have special rituals, or special writing spaces. I don’t feel married to any one method, space, or time and write anywhere from 10am to 3am depending on my energy levels and mood. Likewise, I can write almost anywhere as long as it’s not too noisy. I guess maybe the only unusual thing is that I get really lost in my writing. I’ve sat down at 9am to write over breakfast and looked up to find that’s it’s dark outside. That’s a little weird; kind of like unintentionally time traveling.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
My writing influences vary. I read A LOT, especially in the genre I most often write in, which is Young Adult fiction. But I’ve been in love with Albert Camus since college. His work inspires me; his writing, both his prose and the subjects he writes about, challenge me to examine meaning, to dig deeper when I write and when I interact with people. Vladimir Nabokov, Brett Easton Ellis, Heidi Julavits, Phillip Roth, and Chuck Palahniuk are also big writing influences, for many diverse, weird, and divergent reasons. Deeply flawed characters that still manage to capture and hold a reader’s interest, and stories that challenge notions of identity particularly interest me.
What are you working on now?
Aside from the ‘Between Wild and Ruin’ sequel (tentatively titled ‘Wild Open Faces’), I’m working with a midline publisher on a YA contemporary/sci-fi mashup I pitched as ‘Pump Up the Volume’ meets ‘Close Encounters of a Third Kind.’ We’ve come to a bit of an impassion about how much sci-fi vs. contemporary the story should ultimately be, so I’m not sure yet exactly where it’s going, but I love the book immensely. Whether or not it stays with this publisher or another, you’ll see it out in the shelves soon!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m hard pressed to pick just one. Sites like this are great and worth their weight in gold (thank you thank you thank you), but paid sites like Bookbub and Net Galley can also be worth it. I also find that plain old Instagram seem to work well; especially if you can hook yourself up with Influencers. Also, be sure to have your own streamlined author website that you attend to regularly!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Don’t give up! I went to a publishing conference recently, and was relieved to hear the panel say that on average, most writers write and query publishers for about 14 years before either traditionally or self-publishing, and that the average age for newly published authors in all areas of publishing is just over 50!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Do what you love but don’t expect it expect it to love you in return. Writing is hard work; get comfortable with the word ‘no’ and expect a whole lot of tooth grinding, stomach turning perseverance.
What are you reading now?
I’ll be honest, I’ve got a pile of books I’m waiting to read, and I’m tuning for V.E. Schwab’s ‘Vicious’ next. But as we just launched Between Wild and Ruin a week ago, I haven’t had time to anything but complain, sleep, and cry for the last few weeks.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Aside from ‘Between Wild and Ruin’s’ sequel and the YA publishing project I already mentioned, I’ve got another two books outlined and lined up to write, and a ton of promotional work to get ahead of. The surprising thing about publishing that a lot of new writers don’t get, is that it’s really hard work. Writing your book is only a 1/3 of the equation. Publishing and promoting are entirely different beasts! I’m trying to stay on it.
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?
Just 3 or 4 (she shrieks!!!!)? If I have to narrow it down, I guess it would be ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus, ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss, something by Christina Lauren (any of their books will do), and maybe ’50 Shades or Grey’ or something similarly dumb but scintillating, since I’m assuming it’s a deserted island.