Give a brief bio of yourself, including your earliest aspirations of being a writer and anything else you want to share about your journey to authorship.
I was born and raised in Southern California (Go Trojans!) but took the opportunity, once older, to live and travel all across the Continental US (43 states down...7 to go). I’ve always been writing or telling stories; my mother has a bunch of examples and even saved the first one I ever wrote. It’s on that huge lined paper for Kindergarten with the dashed middle line. It was about a giraffe whose neck was really short but could fly. Don’t ask me where I got that from...
During my undergrad years, I wasn’t really pursuing writing head-on, I did it on the side because I was a double major in international relations/linguistics and history. Then, this teacher in a writing course pulled me aside and said I would be wasting talent if I didn’t answer my calling and write. She jokingly (I think) threatened my grade if I didn’t switch to a double major with English. I did switch, and I am ever grateful to that professor as she led me onto the path to earning my M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
Who or what do you consider to be your most significant influences as a writer?
History is my most significant “what” influence. Everything I write is steeped in history in one way or another. My works might not seem similar when you line them up - historical fiction, paranormal young adult, fantasy, sci-fi - but they all have history in them, in depth, somewhere.
My most significant “who” boils down to three authors (my fave books of theirs I’ve listed, too): Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice), Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises) & Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried).
What is it about fantasy that’s so alluring? Are there other genres that you would like to write?
Fantasy is alluring because you’re encouraged to break the mold - bend the rules - and be original. I love doing that and when I get a genre requiring it I’m all pen and paper! I also love the hint of romance there always is with fantasy. There’s something indescribable about being taken into a world with magic and wonders that we will never see and with creatures we are never going to behold anywhere else. I just want to be a part of spreading that kind of experience.
Other genres I write include historical fiction, paranormal, young adult, sci-fi, and drama/comedy for screenwriting (TV & Film).
Which do you prefer writing, heroes or villains? Why?
It really depends on the story. With my fantasy series, Dragonics & Runics, I am loving writing the Chancellor and his wife. It’s not that I like how evil and sadistic they are - but I like bringing them to life to really drive home how scary a situation where people like the Diesdens get into a power/control situation and start destroying lives.
I actually, normally, prefer writing the secondary characters. I know that sounds ridiculous but there’s something just plain fun about fleshing them out and making them compliment the story and the setting. It’s a fun little challenging puzzle, if you will.
Do you have a set writing schedule? What are your biggest challenges as a writer?
Yes and no. I work a full time job in the entertainment industry so I write before work (before I get my munchkin off to school), then I write on breaks, and then (bless my family’s hearts) I write when I get home. People I have worked with always joke that I hand stuff in at odd hours. Hey, that’s the time I have, so that’s when it gets done. Oh, I write almost all Saturday day too.
Biggest challenges include my schedule and balancing day job with writing until it (hopefully) becomes my real job. That, and I have a family. I have to weave and squeeze in writing and gigs where and when I can and that - between soccer and family events - it gets pretty tricky sometimes.
Do you have any processes or rituals when you write? If you’re asking me about the color of my editing pen, I’m sure you do.
I’m neurotic. Not really, but kinda sorta. I outline on fluorescent notecards (I sometimes tape them to walls/mirrors to check plot and subplot development flows) and I refuse to use any other color combo. I’ve tried the regular colored note cards! It’s just not the same!
I have certain pens I write with. Yes, I handwrite sometimes! This is mainly because I like a pen that flows but also because I have this old wrist injury that flares up if I handwrite too much.
I brainstorm with musical playlists created specifically for certain projects. I text myself random sparks/ideas I have immediately so I don’t lose them (My texts to myself are one of the biggest text records I have!) And I usually nosh on green grapes and/or drink coffee.
When I am revising/editing I do an in-computer revision on plot/character/setting incongruities, then I do an out loud editing on dialogue, then I do a paper edit on fleshing out and trimming up, and then I send it to my editor. I won’t skip a step. You can’t make me!
Oh, and I always write in scenes/clips. Sometimes in order - sometimes all over the place. Weaving them together can be the really fun part!
Who is your favorite character from Defiance: Dragonics and Runics Part I? Why?
Argh! I hate this question! Er... Lanthar. No! Nylan... Okay, Callon. Crap. Let me think....Vee. I choose Vee. Why? Because there is so, so much more to her than what is on the surface and there are little plants here and there but you can just tell - she’s something special. She’s interesting and you want to know where she’s been and why. That, and because if I were to cast the movie version, I’d pick Julia Roberts for her. So talented. I just love Julia Roberts.
It’s clear that you have created a very detailed fantasy world for your story. How do you keep all of the geography and cultures straight? Do you outline? Map?
All of the above. I have a Production Bible that has everything printed or handwritten about the world of Dragonics & Runics. I have pages on how the Dragons breed, grow, and co-exist - what their Queen Dragons were, who major Runics were in Soleran past, etc. etc. I also have a country outline in there that is similar to the CIA Fact List for foreign countries including climate, culture, and industry. In an epic series, these things matter so I have to keep them straight.
I also doodled a map. There are different versions as more and more of the world is discovered in the series, so keep an eye out for that. And yes, the maps have detailed notes on mountains, rivers, swamps, deserts, and cities.
What has been the most rewarding thing about writing? Most frustrating?
Having people really get involved in the stories I have written. I love that they can feel and see everything. It’s so gratifying and inside I’m going “WOO! THEY GOT IT! I CAN WRITE!” while outside I’m thanking them for their kind words. My favorite was when a reader asked me how I saw the dragons and I replied, “A mix of traditional Dragons (wings instead of arms) with Wyverns (wings & arms but smaller), because I’d be way more fun to eat a goat that way.” He laughed and said, “This -- is why I love your writing.”
The most frustrating is dealing with being an indie author/publisher and doing all the ground work and getting told that I don’t count as much because I’m an Indie. That, or when I am working on something as a team and you have to navigate everyone agreeing and seeing the same vision without sacrificing quality or story.
What color is YOUR editing pen?
Purple. Bright, freaking purple. I do digress to orange or pink - if my munchkin begs me to - but I prefer my lovely purple ink.
Defiance: Dragonics & Runics Part I (ebook): http://bit.ly/dr1ebook (Coming to Smashwords & others June 2013!)