Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a bisexual witch from Olympia, Washington, and I spend most of my free time in the water, sometimes wearing a mermaid tail. I also love throwing elaborate theme parties, dragging friends and partners on unexpected adventures, and making art at 2 AM. I’ve been chased by a number of large, angry animals, including a steer, a sea lion, and a mountain goat. Is this relevant information? It might be. I’ve just published my first novel, but I have a backlog of 4 or 5 complete manuscripts, some of which will one day see the light of day.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Persons of Consequence was inspired by spite, which is the purest motivation in the world.
I’m only partially joking. Persons of Consequences is about two girls falling in love in the midst of a burgeoning cult on a college campus. I wrote the first draft immediately after graduating from college because I wanted to articulate how predatory people use radical communities like mine to find and control victims.
When I wrote that first draft I was a bitter little ball of confusion, but as I researched some of history’s most infamous cult leaders, I learned about social proof and manipulation, which has honestly strengthened my ability to write villains in general. Persons of Consequence ended up being a love letter to Pacific Northwest culture, and a hate letter to predators everywhere.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I can’t imagine what would count as an unusual writing habit. I wish I could say something like I write best when upside-down, or when dressed in a ball gown and tiara.
My writing process is pretty normal. I sit on my chaise lounge with my laptop, start writing, and when I hit a scene or sentence I’m not sure how handle my mind starts finding distractions, and I have to corral my thoughts back to the problem they’re avoiding. Repeat ad infinitum.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Terry Pratchett is one of the biggest influences on my life, philosophy, and writing. The way he can take me from laughing, to crying, to contemplating the meaning of sin, then back to laughing, all within a few pages of a comedic fantasy novel is still astounds me. I’ve read almost all of his books, but when he died I put the ones I hadn’t yet read aside, so someday when I’m feeling particularly low, I’ll still have new Terry Pratchett novels to read.
Keri Hulme also had a big impact on me, growing up. When I read The Bone People in high school I was astounded by the way she wrote from dreams and played with language. That was truly exciting.
There are others, of course, hundreds of others, but those are the two who spring to mind immediately.
What are you working on now?
I’m getting ready to publish Lubbers in July 2018. It’s the first in a trilogy of YA mermaid novels. It has magic in it, but in some ways it’s closer to science fiction than fantasy: the series is really about first contact with an unknown intelligent species, which is one of my favorite science fiction tropes. As an open-water swimmer and daughter of fisher people, I absolutely adore the ocean, so getting to invent an entire underwater civilization is a real treat.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’ll let you know when I find out. Book promotion is still uncomfortable to me, but I’m getting over that because I love it when people read what I’ve written. I live for getting inside other minds, and letting others get inside my mind.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Just do it. Finish a writing project, polish it up, and put it out there. Stomp down the Imposter Syndrome when it raises its ugly head. Art is ultimately about sharing ourselves, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Time is not what you need. Intention is what you need.” – Maggie Stiefvater
I think that applies to more than just writing.
What are you reading now?
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi
Also 3 or 4 more. I’m not great at focusing on one book at a time, or one project at a time. Some people say it’s because I’m a Gemini.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Learning to speed up the writing to publishing process. My first few books needed a lot of work before they were good enough for me to even consider publishing. By now I know a lot more about structuring satisfying stories, and that makes the entire process quicker.
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?
Probably those Terry Pratchett novels I mentioned earlier. I’ve heard they’re some of his best, and I’d be upset if I never had a chance to read them.