Aren't updated reruns great? This interview originally appeared on a friends site a few years go and I'm sure two people might have seen it. I've updated it a bit and decided to promote myself so you know I'm still alive and kicking.
1. Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write the story.
I'm going to pick my YA, Shortcomings, which was previously released in February of last year. It hasn't lived up to what I hoped to see, not just in sales, but in getting out a very important message. My inspiration came from my autistic grandson, and I worry he will be picked on by his peers as he grows older. Young children are so much more accepting of differences than the upper grades. I truly want people to acknowledge that disabilities don’t define a person or their worth. We may not realize the discomfort we cause with our curious stares and backhanded comments. Bullying comes from all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors, and in a myriad of instances. Adults can benefit from reading this book as well as my target audience because the saying, "we learn what we live" has never been truer.
2. What was the most difficult or easy aspect of writing this piece?
Besides Spencer’s disability, I drew on my own experiences of fighting my weight, and how I felt in high school when making friends for me wasn’t as easy as some.
3. Who’s your favorite character in your upcoming release?
I’d have to say Cory Neil, my young football hero. He sees the beauty in Cindy despite her own blindness to it. He’s determined, and I love that about him.
4. What similarities are there between you and any of your characters?
None really. My characters are young, with their whole lives ahead of them. I've already faced becoming a senior citizen, and the idea of where the years went is overwhelming. Writing Shortcomings was a great glimpse into my younger years and why I’m stronger today than I was back then. I only wish I could go back and do a few things differently instead of blending into the crowd because I didn't want to become a target or, God forbid, have someone thing I was friends with the people they picked on. Today, I wouldn't fade into the background...I'd stand up, no matter what. It's easier said than done, I know, but right is right.
5. What kind of research did you have to do in order to write your new book?
Unlike my historical novels where research plays a huge role in the story, this one required very little. At one point in my heroine’s life, with graduation looming, she needed to make a career decision. Her desire: to work with children with disabilities, specifically blind students. I contacted a school for the blind in Nashville, and the administrator was kind enough to supply me with actual job descriptions and requirements for those positions.
6. Several of your books have an American Indian theme. I’ve been fascinated by Indian culture and lore since as early as I have memories. Your books White Heart, Lakota Spirit, Prairie Peace, and Sarah’s Heart involve western Indian settings and storylines. I know you chose the Sioux for Praire Peace and obviously the Lakota for White Heart, Lakota Spirit.
Just FYI, the Lakota are a branch of the Sioux nation. I just got more detailed.
a. How did you select specific tribes as backdrops for those novels?
I’ve long had a fascination with the American Indian. I’ve read countless books about the various tribes and their cultures. For some strange reason, the Lakota Sioux are the ones I identify with most. Who knows…perhaps a past life?
b. What research did you do?
More reading. I have a wonderful book put out by Reader’s Digest on American Indians, rites and rituals, and I invested in two specifically about the Sioux. The knack of converting the research into your own words is tricky because if you copy anything verbatim, you are opening yourself up for plagiarism charges. It happened to one well-known historical author, and she lost some contracts because of it.
c. Any plans for writing from the perspective of another tribe? You live near present-day Cherokee, whose culture I find intriguing. Any future story involving that tribe?
Funny you should ask. The trail of tears passed near where I live, and the history of the Natchez Trace is well known here. I might just be motivated to start another historical soon. At the moment, I do have one started about a tribe in Alaska. That's pretty tough because I know very little of their culture and I'm really having to dig deep. In the meantime, a female detective has demanded I listen to her, so I've made much more progress on my mystery. Wow! Talk about jumping from one genre to another. I'm making a broad leap here. *smile*
7. Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to prod her/him along when she/he refuses to inspire you?
My muse is motivated by my characters and their willingness to chat. I’m not a plotter, so when someone pops into my head with a story to tell, I’m motivated to do the typing to see where I end up. I’ve been pleasantly surprised more than once. I find when I write out of my comfort zone, it takes me a lot longer.
8. What sort of character is hanging in the back of your mind, that your muse is playing with and trying to tempt you to write into a new work?
Right now, I have no one hanging in my mind with a NEW story, and that’s unusual, but fine. In the past, on any given day, I have about five WIPS, but the past few months, the silence has enabled me to complete, query and contract what I have finished. I just need to get motivated to finish the ones I've started and I'm sure others will follow. That's usually the course of action. Right now, I'm glad the voices have fallen silent because my health hasn't been up to par and I've had to force myself to even come to the computer.
9. If you could meet one character from any literary work, who would it be and what one question would you ask them?
I think it would have to be Scarlett O’Hara, and my question, “What in the heck were you thinking?”
10. What project are you currently writing?
I think I answered that already, but just in case people want to look for the upcoming titles one of these years....A Novel Murder and Chugiak Moon.
11. Where can one find information about your novels and how to purchase?
All of my books are listed on Amazon on my author's page, and in other locations. Google is a wonderful tool for finding me. Shortcomings is offered through Muse It Up Publishing and if purchased there, comes with a free study guide. With the holidays coming, this book would be a great gift for anyone who likes inspiration...or lacks it. *smile*