Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I have been writing as long as I can remember, especially poetry and short stories as a child, but only in the last couple of years have I been able to write full time and see my dreams of having a novel published come to fruition!
What makes writing your passion?
It is so hard to explain. I suppose a passion is something you are drawn to, obsessed with, and don't feel you can live without, so that would be why!
How long have you been writing?
I began writing poetry as a child. I used to write poems for family members for special occasions all through my childhood. I went to school in England and did 'A" Levels in English language and literature, and have always had a passion for reading, and that led to a passion for writing.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
I cried, laughed, cried some more, and went around showing it to everyone I knew! It was amazing to have created a real book, something I could hold in my hand and share with others. Just magical!
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
For the character of Gracie, I was inspired by my dear friend Julie Suhr who is now 97 years old! She allowed me to use some of her childhood memories in the first few chapters of the book, and the beautiful setting of the ranch she grew up in which is now where Silicon Valley is in California. Julie became a big name in the sport of endurance, and she also allowed me to base my main horse character, Gallant, on her amazing HCC Gazal who broke several records in endurance riding throughout his career.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
I don't think anything annoys me, other than the fact that I have to really manage my time wisely to make sure I balance out the writing part of my career with the marketing and sales part. I've found that I do best if I designate certain days of the week to really focus on writing so I don't get distracted with all the other things I need to do as an author. I suppose I'm annoyed I didn't do this sooner!
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Honestly, I've never had it. I have times when I have to really think through a storyline, or character arc, but I never have a problem writing it. I have more ideas for books than I could ever write in my lifetime so I don't think I'll ever be short on material!
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I love the creative process so much that I can't imagine ever not doing it. I keep going because I have an endless stream of words that I need to put on paper - it's somewhat like therapy for me! I'm not sure I can give advice to new authors because I feel like I still am one, but the one word I use over and over again to keep myself going is 'believe' so having a key word to push through the frustrating moments, or moments of doubt have really helped me keep going. I also think that anyone who is truly meant to be an author will keep going regardless. If you have the passion for it, you don't have a choice!
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Don't ignore your talents. Do what calls you. Remember that the struggles are what makes you a better person and a better writer. Don't wear too much make-up and maybe skip a few of those boys you dated!
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes. Every one. I haven't had a bad one yet but I have had a couple of comments within the reviews that I felt were constructive. I'm too old to get expect that I won't ever get negative comments, and I just remind myself to not get too caught up in them. I'm sure I'll use that 'Believe" word again!
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Out of this world, especially when you know it's a tough reviewer like Kirkus and Booklife. I truly appreciate every single person that takes the time to do a review, though. Word of mouth is a large part of sales when it comes to books so I rely on my readers to spread the word!
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Yes. I think it's hard to avoid that. I use my own experiences but wrap them in the skin of my characters, even the horses! I am very empathetic, though, and find it easy to put myself in someone else's shoes, or hooves, so I can also write from another's point of view. I think my life experiences, of which there are many, help to give my characters depth.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
Gracie is a little bit Julie, and a little bit me. But ultimately she becomes her own character. I do remember what it was like in those pre-teen/early teen years though and definitely pull from my own angst!
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The book cover is very important because it is what draws the reader to the book initially. I have a wonderful illustrator called Phylicia Mann for The Gallant Series, and I think she did a wonderful job. Ultimately, though, it's what is inside the cover that counts. You have to be able to back up the first impression with a story that people can get caught up in, and be invested in until the end.
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 to connect with my readers. I love to hear their feedback and hear that they are anxious for the next book in the trilogy to be published! With my little children's books, the school readings are the most fun because I get instant feedback, and kids are honest in their reactions, so you know you're getting the truth! I even 'test out' new material on them that isn't illustrated yet to see if it's likely to be successful once it's published! They are my mini beta readers!
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
It's the best experience ever! I truly am so appreciative for every award, every kind word, every dollar that people part with to buy my books. I am overwhelmed with the success I have been able to experience so far, and I know it all comes from my readers. Books are silent until they are read!
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Elizabeth Gilbert. I not only love her books, but I love her in interviews. She's so engaging and self deprecating. She obviously has a passion for what she does and she is very forthright about her life and willing to talk about her own experiences. Her book 'The Signature of All Things' is just incredible.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
My husband would like me to be as big as JK Rowling, but my dream is just to continue on this path of writing, self discovery, following my passion, and not going broke in the process. Okay, I guess it wouldn't be horrible to be as big as JK Rowling but I won't be holding my breath.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I wouldn't admit it.