Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Actually, no, I don’t…not precisely, but I think I geared into writing as a means of telling stories pretty much as soon as I learned how to write at all. My personality quirks convinced me early on that it was often safer to write down some of the weird stuff that came into my head than it was to voice it aloud…and I always loved telling stories, pretty much from birth. According to my mother, I ‘marched to my own drummer’ from day one, and always kind of had my head in the clouds. I used to think that made me a freak. Now I know it just makes me a fiction writer.
When and why did you begin writing? I think I was around six or seven. I have a few of those early stories. They’re pretty funny, partly because I see some small element of the same themes that plague me even now as a writer…meaning the ideas I tend to chew on over and over in different ways in a lot of my writing. Most of them involved dogs or rabbits, though. I was a huge fan of Watership Down, obsessively so as a kid.
How long have you been writing? Well, again, depends on how you count. I’ve been writing fiction and nonfiction for myself since I learned how to write English, in some form or another. I wrote a novel in high school, then another in my early twenties. Then I spent about 10-15 years re-drafting and rewriting that same novel to get it ‘right.’ I wrote about five or six versions of roughly the same story and characters from beginning to end during that time, and did a mind-blowing amount of world-building for the universe I’d created, but a lot of that period was a colossal waste of time, frankly, although I did publish a few short stories and worked as a freelance journalist during the same period. I finally broke out of that death spiral about six years ago now, and since then, my entire approach to writing fiction has changed. I started publishing with two short stories at the end of 2010, when the indie publishing thing was first emerging, and I haven’t looked back.
When did you first know you could be a writer? That’s an interesting question. I honestly am not sure how to answer, as I keep rediscovering what ‘being a professional writer’ means and learning how I’ve let myths attach to that concept and the ego stuff involved in buying into those myths. At this point in my life, I’m striving to approach writing fiction as a craft and as a job, one in which I’ll (hopefully) always be learning and improving.
What inspires you to write and why? Rent? (Ha, only half kidding). Honestly, there is no one thing. I love telling stories. I find people fascinating. I find the world fascinating and systems of power fascinating and history fascinating, in particular how societies arrange themselves and tell stories to themselves about who they are and what it means. I find a lot of inspiration in nonfiction I read. I find a lot in observing people, too, and world events.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? I tend to go back to speculative fiction in some form, again and again. The freedom it gives me to play with concepts and exaggerate certain things in people and cultures and how they interact is like a drug, ha. It’s also been pointed out I have a bit of a ‘thing’ when it comes to inter-species romance of whatever kind.
What inspired you to write your first book? The one I kept re-drafting and re-writing for like ten years actually came from a character, Revik, who flat-out wouldn’t leave me alone. Although that wasn’t the very first book I wrote, it was the first one that I wrote with a strong desire to make it good enough that other people would want to read it. I don’t know what that ‘thing’ was exactly that kept me so obsessive with the concept, but it flat-out wouldn’t let me go until I got it where I wanted it. Which is fine, honestly…I just wish I’d written more books about different things during that time, too, since I’m pretty sure my writing would have improved a lot faster if I hadn’t been so mono-focused on such a challenging book and set of ideas.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began? I’ve been really lucky to have received help and advice from a number of really lovely pro writers who have been exceedingly generous with their time and expertise. Ray Bradbury gave me some excellent advice when I was still only in my twenties, and so did Dean Koontz, although I’m quite sure neither of them would have remembered me afterwards, or even remembered what they said. I’ve also had too many pros to name who read my work at conferences and workshops, and who also gave me craft and business advice, pretty much from day one. Currently, I am lucky enough to be a part of a professional fiction writing network that operates mainly out of Oregon, although it has members pretty much all over the world. I can’t even calculate how valuable my connection to these writers has been, both in terms of learning craft and the business side of writing fiction.
What made you want to be a writer? Best job in the world? I’ve wanted to be able to write full time and get paid for it ever since I was a kid. I was a terrible, terrible fit for corporate jobs in the business world, although I more or less succeeded in them. Even when I found companies and positions I could live with and that more or less fit my less-than-fully-conventional personality, I was completely miserable. I liked teaching okay, but yeah, even that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing, not on its own. I love to write fiction, plain and simple. Who wouldn’t want to be paid to do what they love to do?
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Well, there are things you can hit emotionally that you just don’t want to go into as a writer. The problem is, the brain is a very tricky instrument, in that you often don’t recognize the dodge until you’re halfway through the book, and then something’s just ‘not working’ and you can’t always discern why. Then it’s a matter of figuring out what got stopped, and why, and sometimes that’s a waiting game for me, which can be really frustrating. That actually just happened with a book, the sixth in a series I’ve been writing, called the Allie’s War series. I did finish the book eventually, but it sat there for a few months while I banged my head periodically on hard objects and worked on other things until I could see what I was avoiding.
Have you developed a specific writing style? I’ve been told I have a distinctive voice, but honestly, I can’t see it. I’ve been told that no writer can see/hear their own voice, it’s just the nature of the beast. Your own voice is your own voice, so it sounds ‘boring’ to the person who wields it. I know there are certain themes I tend to chew on over and over, some of which are reflected in my academic background as well. I studied slave and ex-slave societies, and also a lot around various wars, World War II and Vietnam, in particular. I think this, as well as having lived abroad another of times, has also influenced my writing style and the types of characters I create.
An unusual shifter romance in the new adult category, the Gate-Shifter series centers on shifters from another world altogether, called morph. Morph and Earth humans were never meant to cross paths, until Nihkil Jamri tries to save private detective, Dakota Reyes while surveying Earth for his human masters from another dimension, and ends up pulling her into his dimension with him. Part urban fantasy, part paranormal romance, part science fiction adventure, the Gate-Shifter series explores alien romance with the least likely candidates imaginable.
Summary of Book One:
Dakota Reyes, a twenty-something private eye who specializes in what she calls ‘hard-to-prosecute’ cases, finds herself in a dark alley one night, about to end up dead at the hands of a young Ted Bundy in training…that is, until a lost, shape-shifting alien named Nihkil rescues her, and inadvertently takes her home with him. The problem is, his home is in a different dimension, and Dakota has no clue how to get back to Seattle, or Earth, or even her own time period. She finds herself bound to her rescuer, Nihkil, through his ‘lock,’ a quasi-biological structure that controls whether he can shape-shift, among other things, which he needs to be able to do in order to get her back home. Only Dakota has no idea how to open Nik’s lock, and the longer she spends in his world, the more forces begin to align against them, trying to prevent her from getting home.
Genre – SciFi / Fantasy / Romance
Rating – PG13
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