What can you tell us about your new release, Legacy of the Lost?
Legacy of the Lost is the first book in my Atlantis Legacy series – which I’ve been describing as Tomb Raider meets Stargate since the very beginning, when it was little more than the seed of an idea. The story features Cora Blackthorn, a hopelessly lonely recluse who lives in Washington’s idyllic San Juan Islands, passing her time by gaming, reading, and binge-watching Netflix. She’s forced out of the everyday doldrum when her adventuring mom goes missing, leading Cora to make a series of astonishing discoveries unveiling family secrets, ancient mysteries, and myth-inspiring aliens. Legacy of the Lost is a fast-paced, exciting adventure that takes readers on a journey from Washington State to Rome, Italy, where Cora must follow the clues and explore historical sites in the search for her mom…and some much-needed answers.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I was never one of those kids who dreamed of writing books. I just really loved reading them. I’ve always been a voracious reader, my appetite for new stories growing as I did. It wasn’t until I experienced a traumatic event in my early twenties that I started writing fiction, more as a form of therapy than anything I planned to let others read. That initial attempt at writing fell by the wayside, and I only returned to writing fiction when Lindsey Pogue (also now an author) came into my life. I was taking a break from teaching, working at a bookstore instead, and I met Lindsey. One thing led to another, and we eventually decided to attempt to write a book together. That book became After The Ending, the first book in The Ending Series. Once I got that first book under my belt, there was no stopping me! I’m now writing full-time and working on my fourth series, and love it!
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
These are not in any order, and I know I’m missing some, but here goes anyway. The following books have had the greatest impact on my life:
– A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
– The Hollows series by Kim Harrison
– The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
– Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
– The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
Tahereh Mafi, without a doubt! She was the one who inspired Lindsey Pogue and me to start writing in the first place. We met Tahereh at a booksellers event in San Francisco, after we had both read and ARC of her debut book, Shatter Me. We loved the book, and were blown away by how normal Tahereh was. She was a little awkward and just as excited to meet us, readers who loved her book, as we were to meet her. She was just like us. Suddenly my perception of what made someone an author shifted, and the possibility that I, too, could write a book became a real thing. During the long drive home from the event (both LP and I lived in Napa, at the time), we got to talking about how we both wanted to write one day. And then we decided to team up and do it. So, I would want Tahereh Mafi to come onto my literary talk show so I could thank her. Because meeting her changed my life.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
Freedom. I love the freedom that writing affords me, on so many different levels. As a full-time author, I have the freedom to control my schedule. Or, rather, as the mom of a one-year-old, I have the freedom to be a work-from-home mom and take care of him while fitting in my author work around his schedule. Childcare is an issue that a lot of people struggle with, and I’m grateful everyday that my books have given me the freedom to chose to care for him myself. And then there’s the freedom to explore fantastical worlds. Writing allows me to create and explore places that don’t exist in the real world, and to go on amazing adventures and even, every once in a while, save the universe. As a hard-core introvert, I also appreciate the freedom writing gives me to express myself and share my thoughts, ideas, and stories in an anxiety-free way. I’ve built of wonderful community of readers around my books, and I’ve connected with some of the loveliest people who enjoy the same geeky things as I do. So, yeah – for me, freedom is easily my favorite thing about writing.
What is a typical day like for you?
Chaotic, haha! I wake up a couple hours before my son does – or, at least, before he’s supposed to wake up. It doesn’t always work out that way. I try to write as much as I can during that time. Then, I do some marketing and social media stuff while he’s up and eating or playing, and I try to write some more when/if he goes down for a nap. It’s a toss up as to when that might be. In the afternoon, we either run errands or, if it’s nice out, go for a walk. When my husband gets home from work, I sometimes head out to my office to squeeze in some more child-free work time. And then it’s dinner, bedtime routine for my kiddo, and an hour or two of relaxing with my husband. And then I go to bed. Super exciting, I know!
What scene in Legacy of the Lost was your favorite to write?
Not so much a scene as a section of the book – I loved writing the final third, when Cora is exploring an ancient labyrinth. I was really able to unleash the creativity and introduce some cool, twisted elements. It was a lot of fun to write, and once I reached that part, the rest of the book just spilled out of my brain and onto the page.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Kind of, and this is super cheesy, but I love this line from Disney’s live-action Cinderella movie: Have courage, and be kind. I feel like the world would be a much better place if everyone held those words in their heart.
The other philosophy that has been really important to me lately is this: be gentle with yourself. The first time I heard it was from a new mom friend, and it really resonated. It’s popped up a few times since then, and every time I hear it, I feel like it’s deeply significant. I think that we, as humans and especially women as mothers, tend to be really hard on ourselves. There is a TON of pressure out there to do things the “right” or “best” way. It’s so easy to feel like we’re falling short and failing those around us, but beating ourselves up doesn’t do anyone any good. Being gentle with ourselves opens us up to new possibilities and allows us to see all the ways that we are enough.