Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I've been writing poems and short stories since I was in second grade. I've also kept journals and diaries on and off throughout my life. Writing has always been what I've used to express myself in one way or another. But I really began thinking of myself as an author and a writer about ten years ago. I took a few courses on writing for children and adults and I discovered that I could find time each day to write. After that, I committed myself to write a little bit every day and I've set goals for myself to complete different writing tasks. Now writing is a natural part of my day and life.
What makes writing your passion?
I love the creative aspect of writing - creating characters and a world where lives interact, deciding how they'll approach problems or challenges, and adding mystery and suspense within the story. I also love the thought that a reader might actually connect with the characters, setting, or plot in my story and maybe even take away something meaningful or important. Writing is therapeutic for me as well. As soon as the pen is in my hand or my fingers are tapping the keys, I immediately escape.
How long have you been writing?
I've always loved to write and have done so since I was a child, but I've become serious about sharing my writing with others in only the last ten years.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
I was ECSTATIC! The feeling of accomplishment in taking a simple idea all the way through to publication was an overwhelming feeling of joy. Seeing my book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and actually holding my book in my hands was so incredible. I'll never forget it.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Since I like to read about characters who are layered and flawed, I tend to write about these kinds of characters as well. I find that characters who have inner conflicts that they're trying to overcome, something in their past that might come back to haunt them, or something they're trying to deal with in addition to the problem(s) within the plot are the most interesting characters to read about. In my opinion, these kinds of characters add depth to the story. I like characters to have learned/grown in the end, even if the ending isn't perfect.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
That there are SO many choices and not knowing exactly what I should do next. I'd love to have a writing coach! Being my own boss is great but it can also be overwhelming and time-consuming to do the research behind every decision that has to do with writing and publishing a book. However, I have learned a lot - definitely more than I would have had I traditionally published.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
That's a good question. Usually, music inspires me. If I'm writing a suspenseful scene or a serious scene or even a romantic scene and I'm feeling stuck I'll listen to music in that genre - sometimes the lyrics or just the tone of the music helps me breakthrough. Other times I'll do some yoga or I'll take a little break for a half hour and then try again.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
Here is some advice:
*Don't give up ever.
*Writing a little bit every day will accomplish a lot in the end.
*Connect with other writers and don't be afraid to share your work. It's the best way to grow as a writer.
*Make a goal for yourself - what do you want to accomplish in a week? A month? A. year? Make a plan and follow it.
*Find someone who can hold you accountable.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I would say start writing now when you're young. Pull those stories out and show them to people and ask for their honest opinions. Start your writing career now.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I do read them. I feel a little disappointed at first but then I remind myself not to take the bad ones personally. Not everyone is going to love my book. I don't love all of the books I read either. It's okay if it doesn't connect with a couple of people, thankfully the majority of them are good.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I love it! I enjoy reading why a reader loved reading my book or how it made them feel. It makes me feel so good and motivates me to keep going!
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Yes - my stories often have some aspect of real things that have happened to me or to people I'm close to. I might incorporate the personality of someone I know within a character in my story or an actual event that happened. Doing this allows the event or character in my story to be more real and believable. I find that I can dig deeper and my writing is stronger.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I can compare parts of myself with my main character and also with her mother. I didn't base those characters on me specifically, but parts of my memories and experiences are within those characters.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
I think the book cover is just as important as the book but for different reasons. The book cover must reflect the most important aspects of the story - the heart of it. It must also be appealing to readers in that genre. The cover is the first thing that readers see and it will either pull them in to want to see more or they will go right by it. So a cover is extremely important to the book.
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 connecting with my readers and welcome that connection through a chat or whichever is easiest for them. At times we've connected through Facebook Messenger or email as well.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I mostly feel grateful. Even though I don't feel comfortable being the center of attention. I'm very grateful for the recognition.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
That's a tough one. I have many favorite authors for different reasons. Shari Lapena, Ruth Ware, Janelle Brown, Kate Morton, Tana French. The reasons are varied - I love the atmospheric writing of Janelle Brown, the element of suspense that Shari Lapena provides, the twists and turns of Tana French, and everything in between.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
Tana French - that would be amazing.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
At this point in my young career, I would say no. I feel like each story has a life of its own and should be left as such. I might possibly take a basic idea or character from one story and create a new story or just write something completely different.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
Well, I probably wouldn't switch places because that would mean that the author I switch with would be going backward in their career. But if I could walk a few days in her shoes I would choose Tana French or any of the authors I mentioned in an earlier question.
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.
Get a life. Seriously - is there nothing else you can be doing? Find something productive. Do something good for a change.
What would you say to your readers?
I would say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for giving Buried Secrets a chance. Thank you for your interest, your loyalty, and your support. You motivate me! I can't wait to share the sequel with you first!
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I live in upstate New York in the small town of Fairport. I am married to my childhood friend Jimmy and together we have five kids (Eric, Sarah, Brad, Michael, and Zach) ranging from 21 - 25 years old. I also have a dog named Valentine and a hedgehog named Penelope Pricklehog.
What is your day job if you have one?
I teach fifth grade and specifically focus on the areas of reading and writing which is perfect for me since those are my favorite subjects.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Aside from writing, I love to read, do yoga, work in my garden, spend as much time outside as possible, and spend time with family and friends.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Yes, I'm thankful to say that I had a very happy and memorable childhood.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
I began to love writing when I was in second grade and we had to write poems for the first time. That's when I found that I had a little bit of creativity within me and I enjoyed it very much. Later I wrote a story about a difficult time I had in middle school so that memory inspired me to write about something more specific.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I have a couple of short stories that are suspense/thrillers that I plan to publish. I also have a novella - it's for more of a middle-grade audience about a difficult moment/challenge I dealt with in middle school. Currently, I am also working on editing the sequel to Buried Secrets.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
That's a great question. I don't think it's something specific like a subject area but more general. I would probably have to say helping students with problem-solving and building their stamina. Since we've become more digital in our society and kids are so connected to their devices (especially now with the new Covid expectations) I've noticed a decline in their ability to focus and stay with a task for very long without being distracted or impatient. I also think that helping them to have a plan to solve problems whether that's for math or organizing materials for a project or dealing with unpleasant emotions - this skill is so important and sadly lacking.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
1. Good health/safety of my family
3. To be a successful author!
What is your favorite music?
This will date me but I love '80s pop and rock music! I also love other genres as well and like to mix it up but the '80s is probably my favorite music.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I can't think of one that I can share :)