I grew up in San Francisco, but now live in an adobe house on the banks of the Rio Grande with my chaotic, messy family. I think I’ve drunk so much Land of Enchantment water that some of that ancient magic got into my blood and now spurts out my pencil—I mean ergonomic keyboard. I’ve been scribbling stories since I was a kid and it’s a thrilling dream-come-true to see them on the bookstore and library shelves. I make too many cookies when I’m revising and I’ve got the best book trailers for reals! Check them out on my website or YouTube.
I’ve stayed in a haunted castle tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland, sailed on the Seine in Paris, walked the beaches of Normandy, ridden a camel in Petra, sunbathed on Waikiki, shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. For more info, visit my Webpage / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Tumblr / Youtube. Also, my just released Book Trailer for FORBIDDEN. It’s truly stunning.
What do you waste time doing?
Making cookies while revising . . . but they are so good.
If you were a professional wrestler, what would your name be?
Shakira. I would be the belly dancing wrestler and mesmerize my opponent with my hip rolls and shimmies.
If you could own a store, what sorts of things would you sell?
Belly dance apparel, jewelry, scarves, plus Aladdin lamps, ancient pottery and coins. You know – cool stuff!
What book (either because of its length or subject) intimidates you?
I used to be intimidated by the full-length Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – a 1200 page tome – but my son kept telling me how good it was and he’d requested an expensive leather bound edition for a Christmas gift (for the home library he’s already building when he gets his own house one day). We obliged him. I finally read his beautiful leather bound edition and absolutely LOVED it. So worth it. And I cried at the end. My new intimidation is The Book Thief . . . but I adored the movie and had a lump in my throat the entire time. It was beautiful and emotionally compelling—just like I hope my book, Forbidden¸will be to readers. Hey, I can wish!
What was your favorite meal when you were growing up?
Strawberry waffles with whip cream.
What do you do every day, without fail?
Eat something sweet or chocolatey. I love it all. Brownies, cake, donuts, Milky Way bars, cinnamon rolls . . caramel/pecan Turtles.
What compliment do you wish someone would give you?
The title of New York Times Award-Winning Author. LOL!
Have you ever felt that your personal expectations have limited your creativity? If so, how have you dealt with this?
I think it’s easy for a writer to get intimidated by their subject matter or trying to figure out *how* to execute this big, sprawling novel. We often play mind games and psyche ourselves out because we fear that we’re not up to the task.
But an interesting thing happens. Every book actually feels like this! Because we’ve never written about that subject or those characters before. The only thing you can do is to love your characters, love their story, and push through and just get the story down on paper—or computer screen.
It’s never as bad as we fear—and never as good as we hoped. Thank goodness there is something called Revision.
Do you ever feel that you have to censor your creativity because you don’t want to offend anyone?
When I was first researching and writing Forbidden, I definitely worried about the censorship issue. My story contains a subplot about physical abuse by my main character’s betrothed, a man who should love and protect her, and I write about the prostitution going on at the ancient goddess temples of Mesopotamia.
I worried that the book would never sell, and it took several years, but I also felt strongly that I didn’t want to censor myself or tone things down, because I wanted the story to be true to the time period and characters. The issues were integral to the story I was telling – to be historically accurate—and also because of the conflict my character was in. Eventually, the book did sell to a major publisher, Harpercollins, as a Young Adult trilogy, with crossover adult appeal, and in a significant deal. So all the revisions and all the rejections for years was finally worth it!
Who do you consider a literary genius?
Two of the best YA novels I’ve read in the past two years:
Where things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Chime by Franny Billingsly
I thought they were both brilliant and genius.
What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?
Um, everything. Rejection for decades. Changing agents. Changing publishers. Being orphaned. Books falling into a black hole, not sent out for review, etc. The self-esteem hit can be debilitating. Good writing friends really, really help. Plus chocolate.
How do you know when a book is finished?
That is a really good question and a very difficult question to answer. Newer writers are often deluded by their own enthusiasm and the great achievement it IS to actually sit down and finish an entire book (because more people do not finish at all but get overwhelmed at the halfway point of a draft). But those first drafts are not usually good enough to be published.
I spent YEARS writing The Healing Spell and Forbidden, the two of my 9 published books that each took about 8 years of rewriting, restructuring, and revisions. But I finally got to a point when I *knew* deep down in my gut that I’d finally gotten it. The book “sang”, it made me cry. I got great feedback from other writers. I was pretty sure it was now publishable. So it’s a combination of Instinct, sheer craft and practice, and receiving feedback from professionals. All of those.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have compared to people who are not creative?
I think creative people are big daydreamers. They see Magic all around them in the world. They love to escape into books, art, music, movies. And they’re always getting “ideas” of something to create.