Frequently Asked Questions
|Q.||What draws you to writing historical fiction?|
|A.||I love history, love imagining the past and how different it must have been to live in a time without so many of the modern contrivances we take for granted today. And yet I love reading the primary sources and realizing how much of human nature and the human experience has remained the same throughout the ages: love, hate, faith, despair, hope. The essentials of life are constant, no matter how much the world around us changes.|
|Q.||What do you like to do when you’re not writing?|
|A.||Mostly think about writing. I know, sad, isn't it? I've been a runner since high school, though at the moment my runs tend to be 20 minutes on the treadmill while making faces at the baby in the playpen next to me. I love to cook, too. Though likewise my recipes are somewhat limited at the moment by having 4- and 1-year-old 'helpers' who have limited patience with the process and really really want all the ingredients added to the bowl NOW. I also read any chance I get, of course, I love losing myself in a good book. And of course all of those get squished in around the edges of being with my girls.|
|Q.||How many kids do you have?|
|A.||I have two (amazing incredibly sweet) girls. At the moment, Isabella is 4 and Vivienne is 20 months. And any day now my new-baby-cravings will undoubtedly kick in. Darn biology.|
|Q.||How did you meet your husband?|
|A.||Ballroom Dancing club in college. For the full story, read here. But quick answer, we met as partners in ballroom dance club.|
|Q.||Ballroom dance, huh? Were you any good?|
|A.||I'm reminded of a story my mom tells about once playing her recital piece for her piano teacher, who paused thoughtfully after she'd finished and then said, "That was extremely adequate."|
|Q.||What did you study in college?|
|A.||I majored in English lit, with an emphasis on Medieval lit and history. I thought seriously about going to grad school in English, but in the end I just wasn't as passionate about it as I was about telling stories. Also, I knew my husband would be working towards his PhD, and I have a fairly firm, "one grad student per marriage is enough" philosophy.|
|Q.||When did you start writing?|
|A.||I grew up loving to read and write, but I was always afraid of trying to write something as major as a novel. It felt so scary, and what if I failed? What if, you know, someone read it? All those writerly fears. Then when I was a senior in college, one of the requirements for graduation was an honors thesis, and my dad strongly encouraged me to write a novel. I'm so grateful, because without him, I never would have had the courage to begin. The novel I turned out that year wasn't exactly a masterpiece--I was 20, and had never written anything before--but it absolutely made me fall in love with the writing process. By the time I turned it in and graduated, I couldn't have stopped writing if I'd tried.|
|Q.||How did you become a published author?|
Probably like most published authors, lots of rejection! I think that's the most important advice I can offer any aspiring authors is not to give up, no matter how many rejections you rack up, no matter how many manuscripts you wind up having to set aside. I kept getting rejected, but I kept writing because I had stories that I had to tell--not just wanted to, had to or something vital inside me was going to die. Writing was who I was; no amount of rejection was going to make that go away. So every time a rejection came, I would take a deep breath, drop it in my "rejections" file, and then get back to work, sending out more queries, revising and polishing whatever book I was working on again and again.
There was only one day--one afternoon, to be exact, when I really, truly considered giving up all hope on having a career as a published author. It was an afternoon in early spring. I was four months pregnant with my first baby. I'd just weeks before been dropped by my first agent, who had decided to stop agenting and pursue another career--and that afternoon, I'd gotten my final-nail-in-the-coffin rejection on the book I'd been shopping around.
I remember sitting at my computer and thinking--really thinking for the first time--that maybe my career as an author really wasn't ever going to be. I had my daughter to think about, after all, even though it would still be months before she was born. And maybe this was a sign from the universe that I needed to give up on writing and just focus on being a mom. I remember calling my own mom and telling her, with my voice wobbling, I don't think I can do this anymore--I think this is it, I'm done.
But at the same time, I did have my daughter to think about. Even though she wasn't born yet. Even though I didn't yet even really know who she was. I was going to be a mother. And I had to ask myself what I wanted my daughter to learn from me, to take from the example I set by my own life. That if your dream doesn't come true easily or right away you just give up on it? Of course not.
Any dream worth having is worth fighting for. That was what I wanted my girl to know as she grew up to pursue her own dreams, whatever they might be. I remember calling my mom back later that very same afternoon and saying, I'm not giving up. I'm going to go in a new direction--try something completely different and new. I didn't even know what that new direction was going to be. Only that I was going to write another book--find a new and completely different story to tell. And that this one was going to be "the one"--the one that made it off my computer, onto the shelves of real, actual bookstores, and into real readers' hands.
A week or so later I had a dream. A very vivid dream that I was telling my mom about a book I planned to write about the daughter of Modred, great villain of the cycle of King Arthur tales. Over the next several months that dream became the manuscript of my book, Twilight of Avalon. I had finished a third of the first draft when my daughter was born; I signed with my second (fabulous) agent when she was 7 months old. And the week before my daughter turned one, my agent and I landed our three book publishing contract.
|Q.||Where do you write?|
|A.||Well, I used to have an office of my own, but then we moved and had our second baby, so now my office is a corner of my bedroom with toys on the floor to occupy my baby when she's with me and I'm trying to work. But it's fine, really, I can write anywhere I can set up a computer and snatch a few moments' quiet. Although I have to admit I did do some internal cartwheels when my older girl started talking about how excited she was to someday soon share a room with her sister.|
|Q.||Your books tend to have religious/spiritual themes. Do you mind my asking about your own religious beliefs?|
|A.||Oh, sure, no worries, ask away. I'm a Baha'i.|
|A.||Baha'i. For more, you can read here. Briefly, Baha'is believe in the oneness of God, the oneness of humanity, and the oneness of religion.|
|Q.||So you fit being a career writer in with having 2 small children home with you full time. What does your average day look like?|
My average day? It probably looks something like this:
(barrettes in my hair courtesy of my 4 year old)