What is your favorite genre to read? Who is your favorite author?
Oh goodness, this is always the hardest question to answer. I read eclectically. From poetry to American literary classics to the occasional murder mystery…I’m in. I don’t have a favorite genre. I just love good literature. Whatever book it is, I want to be pulled in by the characters or the plot, the voice or the setting. I’m not all that picky of a reader. Just tell me a good story.
I think because I read so widely it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite author. I enjoy books by Steinbeck and Kent Haruf, Shakespeare and Robert Frost. I enjoy a good Stephen King novel as well as anything written by my friend Jocelyn Green (yeah, I just did a tiny name-drop). I’m also quite fond of Rowling, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Flannery O’Connor (I did name my cat after her). Oh! And Harper Lee, Gary Schmidt, and Rachel McMillan.
Maybe it would just be easier to say that my favorite author is whoever can grab my attention with their words.
If your book would become a movie who should play the main character(s)?
I honestly cannot think of an answer to this one. Is that strange? I have such a fully formed concept of Pearl Spence in my mind that I can’t think of a young girl who could fill that imprint. After spending so many years writing Pearl, I don’t know that I’d be satisfied by any actress, not matter how talented she may be.
Did you ever write something that completely surprised you?
Yes. While writing A Trail of Crumbs, I avoided the true conflict of the story because it was too painful. I allowed myself too many trips down dead-end bunny trails and wrote far too many inconsequential scenes.
When it got down to me writing the conflict between Pearl and another character, it’s shocked me how emotional I was with every word. And it surprised me how complete the book felt after I formed those scenes.
Also, without giving away any spoilers: What happens to Eddie in A Cup of Dust was not as I’d planned. His character decided on another way. For those who have read it, when he says his last words in the novel, “I can’t”, it seemed like he was saying them right to me as I typed them. It was eerie and I knew he was right.
What was the hardest thing you ever did in your writing?
There’s a death that happens in the first few chapters of A Trail of Crumbs that was not only difficult to write, but really broke my heart. I still cry about that scene whenever I think about it too much. It wasn’t just that the character died, but because of the pain the entire family went through. I knew that the rest of my characters would grieve deeply and that their pain would change everything for them. That was extremely difficult for me to write.
Tell me about what you are working on now? Does it have a scheduled release date yet?
I’m finishing up work on A Song of Home, the final book in the Pearl Spence series. It’s bittersweet, having this last time with Pearl. I’m going to miss her.
A Song of Home will release in February, 2018.
If you were not a writer what would you be doing instead?
Probably as a shiftless member of society. I’m a terrible employee. Don’t believe me? I got fired from the dollar store. No joke.
Actually, I’d most likely be a much better housewife and volunteer much more of my time at my kids’ school.
Where is the strangest place you have seen your books?
In my sister’s bathroom.
What is one thing you wish your readers knew about you but no one has ever asked before?
About a year ago I met a reader who said, “Wow, I didn’t know you’d be so, so…happy.” She went on to tell me that she assumed I was a very sad person with a pretty horrible life. I laughed. But I get why she’d think that.
I write super emotional books which deal with deep subjects. Human trafficking, abuse, death, The Great Depression…these are not light topics.
However, I’m a pretty smiley gal. I love to laugh and have fun. I’m goofy about 75% of the time when I’m not writing. The other 25% is spent washing dishes.
I wish my readers (the ones I haven’t met yet) knew that I’m happy and that I’m not scary.
Where is your favorite place to write? To read?
I love to write at the coffee shop in my favorite bookstore (which happens to be Baker’s Brewery in Baker Book House). It’s bright and smells of good coffee. Also, I see good friends around there, which makes my little writing life so much less lonely.
My favorite place to read is in bed or in my van.
You have written mainly stand-alones, but Trail of Crumbs is a sequel. Which is easy to write stand – alones or series?
They both present their own, unique challenges. With a stand-alone, the story has to have some sort of resolution (although it may not always be a happy resolution). Often it’s difficult to wrap up a story in 80,000 to 100,000 words without anything feeling rushed or skipped over.
The challenge of a series is that you have to maintain a consistent voice and tone to the story. The characters have to continue to grow throughout each book. The conflict has to keep its intensity. There’s the issue of holding a readership interested and not rushing to finish up the last book.
Personally, I’ve found writing a series to be far more demanding of my writing skills than the stand-alone books were. However, it has stretched me in the best ways.
Coffee or Tea?
Both! Maybe not mixed, though…