Where did you grow up? Describe your childhood in five words.
I grew up in Albuquerque, NM. We had a great yard, so I spent a lot of time outside making up adventures. My childhood: full of books and imagination.
What inspired you to finally leave to pursue other interests and dedicate your time to writing?
I got fired from a job I’d had for a year because they moved the position to another city. I was tired of being treated like I was just another easily replaced part in a machine, and I was unhappy with the job opportunities available to me. I decided turning 50 meant I was running out of time to make myself happy and follow my dream of being a writer, and fortunately, my husband supports me in this dream.
What did you love the most about ''The World Is Mine?'' How did it influence your mind?
I wrote “The World is Mine” when my youngest niece was born. I was so moved by just being at the hospital (though not in the delivery room) and seeing her when she was only minutes old that I had to do something to express my feelings and my hopes for her.
How did you get started with the Abby's Road series? What was the inspiration for the character, Bruce MacAlister?
I got started with the story of Bruce and Abby 15 years ago when I was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer. The song “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum was a huge influence in creating the image of Bruce in my head. I left writing for several years, and when I got back to it, it was as though Bruce and Abby were knocking on the door in my head telling me it was time to let them out into the world. There was a lot to say in their story, so I decided to make it a series.
What inspired the story of ''The World Is Mine?'' Are any of the lessons shared in the book based on your real life experiences?
As I said before, the birth of my youngest niece was the inspiration for “The World is Mine.” I think I’ve experienced each of the lessons in the book – the things that hurt, the things that make a person happy, love – everything except actually giving birth to a child of my own. That part, that magic, I had to imagine.
You have written a children's book and a romantic suspense novel. Do you have a preference? What do you enjoy writing more?
I’m a romantic at heart, and I love solving puzzles. I published “The World Is Mine” because it’s a beautiful story, and the world needs more books like that. My passion, though, is in romantic suspense.
How do you think being a classroom teacher in the public schools for ten years has helped you grow as a person? Do you write about your teaching experiences in your books?
ALL of my previous experiences influence my writing. The teaching experiences actually are more influential on the upcoming Ivy Greene mystery series.
Abby's Road is a tender love story full of suspense. How did you blend in the elements of romance and suspense together?
I wanted Abby and Bruce’s story to be more than just boy meets girl, they fall in love, the end. Life is difficult at times, and I wanted them to overcome some issues. Fortunately, for most of us, life isn’t as hard as it was for Abby, but overcoming bad experiences and finding enduring love is possible, and I wanted to illustrate that the best way I could.
What is the most challenging part about writing a children's book? What lessons do you want children to learn from your book, ''The World Is Mine?''
The most challenging part of writing a children’s book is finding a fresh idea that is still pure in motivation and content. I want children to learn that even when people knock you down or make you crazy, there is still beauty and hope in the world and in their future.
Do you have a hard time fleshing out male characters? What are the difficulties writers face in portraying characters from the opposite sex?
I actually find it easier to create the guys in my books than the girls. There’s a lot of my husband in Bruce, and most of my non-teaching work experience has been around more men than women. I listen, I talk, I pay attention, and I have a lot of male friends, so I ask “How would you do this?” or “How would this make you feel?” My biggest challenge with Abby was making a strong, tough-minded person who wasn’t whiny or snotty and irritating.
What are some common traps for aspiring writers? Do you have any advice on how to avoid or overcome them?
Lack of confidence is probably the biggest trap for aspiring writers. We tend (I think) to tell ourselves that no one is going to be interested in what we have to say. My advice is, if you want to write, just sit down and get started. If the act of writing is too scary, get a digital recorder, dictate your story, and when you convert it to text on your computer, you’ll probably find a lot to like.
Which is your favorite book in the ''Abby's Road?'' Were you planning on making it a series when you wrote the first book or did it sort of just happen?
“Bruce’s Fall” is probably my favorite simply because it’s written from Bruce’s perspective. Bruce was so real to me that many times when I’d get bogged down or distracted, I would expect him to knock on my door with his hands on his hips, and tell me to get busy. Their story started out as a single book, but there was so much to explain about Abby and why she was so skittish that she needed her story told, too. To put it all in one book would have left me with a tome to rival the complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica in a single binding, so I split the story into three separate books.
Do you think someone can write romance without being romantic at heart themselves? Would you say that you are a romantic person?
I’m a very romantic person. They say that it’s best to write what you know, so unless the writer has a really, really good imagination, I’d think not being a romantic at heart would make it hard to write a romance novel.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? What is the best review you have ever received?
I do read my book reviews, and I try to take the criticism in a constructive way. The best review I got for an “Abby’s Road” book was when the reader said they could vividly see everything I described, just like they were there.