What can you tell us about your new release, Fumble?
I normally write contemporary romance, but at the beginning of this global pandemic I realized that I wanted to write something fun and lighthearted. The world a scary place right now for so many reasons, and as a reader I have always taken comfort in books. Writing Fumble was my way of channeling the fear and uncertainty I’ve been feeling into a really fun story with a smart but flawed leading lady, and it turns out I have a flare for comedy so I’m excited to write more in this genre.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I was an English major in college and fell in love with classic romance stories like Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I studied the rise of the novel and the linguistics that shape the written word. Writing came later at a time in my life when I was facing limitations due to my health, and writing gave me a place to retreat and lose myself in characters whose only limitations were my imagination. I fell in love with the art of creating worlds outside of my own. It wasn’t until I looked back over the years to things I’d written—poetry, songs, and the beginnings of so many stories—it dawned on me that this was always the path I was supposed to be on. I’ve never felt more myself than when I’m writing and Fumble marks my ninth full-length novel.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
The Time Traveler’s Wife has to be on the list. The continuity of this story is flawless and with such a complex time line, it’s a true piece of art.
Wuthering Heights is another must for me. If you could see the dog-eared copy I have on my bookshelf you’d understand. There are notes in the margins and Post-It notes on every other page. I used this book as a study for my thesis. Bronte paints a much darker romance than was normal in her era, but her use of imagery and patterns is really exciting. As a writer I know how much work can go into the smallest of details and I really appreciate this story on so many levels.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I’ve added this book to my top five because I really couldn’t put it down. I don’t think I spoke to my husband for a day and a half while reading. It deals with some really tough issues, but I think she does a great job of empowering the female lead and keeping the reader engaged in the story throughout.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. I discovered this author while looking for some YA books for my son. The cover of another one of her titles just grabbed me, The Coldest Girl In Cold Town. I started reading her back catalogue and fell in love with the worlds she creates. The Cruel Prince is the first in a three book series and the whole series is wonderful. This made the list because it really sparked a fascination with the folklore of the Fae for me. I think I’ve bought this book for four of my friends and loaned my copy to a few people as well. If you haven’t read it, go buy it… after you read FUMBLE of course!
The Screwtape Letters. There are so many books I could spend days discussing the reasons I loved reading them, but if I have to choose one for a final spot in the top five I think it has to be The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. This book really left a mark when I read it almost twenty years ago. I was fascinated by the portrayal of a demon as the protagonist. It’s an elegant scrutiny of the human race and really makes you think about the concept of good and evil. It has definitely challenged me as a writer. The antagonist is the hero in his own story, and that’s a complex and exciting premise to explore as a writer. It’s what I’ve done with my paranormal series, The Cardinal Brotherhood.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask
Stephen King. His book, On Writing, really opened my eyes to what it means to be a writer. To find discipline in the craft and build time to read into my day. It was amazing to me that I identified with everything he was saying about how it feels to write—a validation of the chaos of characters running around my mind on any given day.
What would I ask him? I’d want to pick is brain for days about so many things, but if I only had one question that I feel is pertinent to my life right now it would be—how did you push through in the early part of your career?
There are times when it’s tough to push through and keep writing if you feel that you can’t gain traction in a saturated market. It can be really disheartening, so I think I would ask him how he got through those difficult days when he wasn’t a bestseller, and how he pushed through the self-doubt that all writers feel at some point.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The freedom it allows me. My only limitation is my own imagination. From finding the perfect word to convey an emotion, to the ebb and flow of sentences, I love every part of it. I abide by one rule—if it doesn’t spark a response in me when I’m writing it, then it’s not going to a hook the reader. Trust me, if I have you crying, laughing, or wanting to scream at your kindle, then you can bet I was doing the same thing while I was writing it. Sharing that experience with readers is such a rewarding and humbling feeling.
What is a typical day like for you?
Typical? Are any of us experiencing a typical day in 2020? We’re all just leveling up on Jumanji right now. Before COVID-19, I’d get the kids organized for school, drop them off, and then head to one of my favorite spots to write for the day with my laptop and Air Pods. Music is a huge part of my creative process, so you can generally find me in a quiet corner of the local Barnes & Noble with a coffee and my playlist, typing as fast as I can to keep up with my characters!
Right now is a different story altogether. The kids and I are finding a new routine, and we are lucky enough that I am able to work and home and be here with them. I have a beautiful home office, but every time I close the door to write, some sort of invisible beacon flares to my kids and they appear at my side with a million questions. The lockdown writing hack for me is sitting literally anywhere else in the house—the couch, my bedroom, the kitchen island. It has definitely been more of a challenge but I’m finding ways to be productive and deal with the anxiety that comes from a word pandemic.
What scene from Fumble was your favorite to write?
This is a tricky one. My leading lady in FUMBLE is Faith Fairchild. She’s smart and sassy and knows what she wants, but she’s also a huge klutz. I’m not going to lie… I have a lot of firsthand experience in this department. There are a few scenes in this book that happened to me when I started dating my husband. Thankfully he finds my quirks endearing. I’ve broken bones and ruptured ligaments just trying to walk in a straight line! The crazier the scene, the more likely it is based on true events. If I have to pick one, I’m going to say the drive-thru scene. This actually happened to me, and my husband and I had a fun time reminiscing about it while I was writing the scene.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
I do. A dear friend of mine who passed away a few years back started his own brand based on his motto during training as a Navy SEAL—Not Dead Can’t Quit. NDCQ for short. When I’m having a crisis of confidence or I feel like life is hard, I throw on my NDCQ shirt and slip their challenge coin in my pocket to remind myself to keep going. It’s gotten me through some really difficult times. Through love, loss, and too many health issues to count, I remember those four words and what they mean. If there’s a breath in your body and a beat in your heart, you’re still in the game so don’t give up. Keep fighting for what you want in life.