Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I am not a child writing prodigy, I didn't start writing until I was well into my adult years. The bad news is that I don't have a long pedigree of academic degrees in writing. The good news is that when I started writing I had a whole lifetime as a voracious reader and a full bucket of life experience to draw from.
What makes writing your passion?
Though set in disparate times and places, my novels have a common theme. They attempt to answer the question: "What would it have been like to live in this time and place? All of them explore how historical circumstances impact the lives of ordinary people.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing pieces intended for public consumption for about 20 years.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
It was thrilling, of course, until I realized that the much harder work of promoting my book had not even begun. Writing and publishing the books was the fun part. Marketing myself and my works was the soul-killing but necessary grind.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I have loved history and historical fiction for a very long time. But is seemed to me that these books mainly described the lives of the higher echelons of society. No one was telling the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Definitely advertising/marketing. It's by far the hardest, most mind-numbing part of pursuing a writing career.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I haven't experienced significant writer's block. I dream about my works-in-progress, think about what the next twists and turns of plot lines will come next. I have dozens of story ideas on the back burner waiting to be written. That said, I do need to take a breather once in a while to recharge my batteries.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I keep going by using the simple premise that I am writing this story for myself, and no one else ever needs to see it. I never write "to the market," because I don't care. My advice is similar to write to please yourself - "dance like no one is watching."
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I'd tell myself that there is plenty of time to do everything. This is not a race. Explore all your other passions. They will add depth to your writing.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I read them. It's pure vanity. I am elated, surprised and delighted by good reviews. I search bad reviews for some little piece of advice that might be useful. I console myself with the thought that you cannot please all of the people all the time.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I feel affirmed. I write in a vacuum, never knowing if what I've written is good or pure dross. It's gratifying and humbling to get good reviews
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Many times. I draw on lived emotions, and personal experience. I also sometimes model characters after people I've known. I definitely try to use settings with which I'm well acqainted.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I never based my characters directly on myself, though I sometimes portray characters that share some of my qualities. They are usually much better people than I perceive myself to be.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Yes, absolutely. Just think of how you browse the bookshelves of your favorite bookstore. Which books are you drawn to? I think it's important for the cover to give a clue to what the book is about. And it should be different than others. There are so many boilerplate covers now. That just tells me this book will be trite and unoriginal.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I LOVE talking to my readers. And I love doing book club appearances. As long as people don't get snarky and nasty, it's always been a wonderful experience for me.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I feel proud, of course, but also I have a bit of an imposter syndrome. Almost not one in the general public would recognize me.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
No fair!!! I've read too many wonderful books over my lifetime. It depends on what period of my life we're talking about. Lately I 'm loving Margaret Atwood, Kristin Hannah, Matt Haig, Robin Wall Kimmerer. I'm a sucker for the well-turned phrase. I like almost any genre if the writing is beautiful.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
My big dream is to be respected by readers and recognized by other authors. I can't compare my aspirations to being as "big" as another author. It's hard. Anything I say will be pure hubris. But if pushed, I'd say Margaret Atwood.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
No, I don't think so. Do I think I could have done better? Yes, I probably could have. But each book is what it was meant to be in that moment.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
I don't know enough about any other author to know if their life would be an improvement over the life I have now. If you ask me if I'd like to be a fly on the wall on a favorite author - yes. That would be revealing.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I feel bad, of course. But I also believe in karma. They will be repaid in kind some day in some way. I also feel sorry for them. People who feed on creating bad emotions must be very unhappy.