Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in a very rural community in the southeast central part of New York State. People from other parts of the country often think of New York City when they hear the words “New York,” but the fact is there are parts of the state that are sparsely populated and heavily wooded. Quite untamed. The last time I visited my childhood home, for example, a black bear crossed the yard and helped himself to breakfast in my dad’s blueberry patch. I had, in many respects, a quintessential “country mouse” childhood, hiking, camping, and fishing. It remains a big part of my identity. In my late 20s, I settled in a suburb of Rochester, New York, which is in the northwestern part of the state, and I’ve lived there ever since, although when my daughter graduates high school I’ll be starting a new chapter in my life on the west coast.
I’ve drawn on both my childhood and Rochester settings for my novels. Loose Dogs and When Libby Met the Fairies are set in Rochester. Can Job is set in a fictionalized version of Rochester called Borschester, New York. And Dark Chemistry is set in Amesbury, a fictional Central New York community that I modeled after a hamlet near the town where I grew up.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Marketing—by far! Not because the marketing itself is hard to do. It isn’t. First of all, I have a marketing background. And even if I didn’t, so many people—so many writers!—do marketing, and succeed at it, and share how they’ve succeeded. If you have a connection to the Internet plus any drive at all it’s not hard to do it yourself. What makes it the hardest of the three is that you have so little control over whether it delivers results. When I write, everything’s under my control: I pick the genre, I make the time, I decide when I’m happy with my work. By self-publishing, I bring publishing under my control: click a button and my novel’s published. But succeeding at marketing requires factors over which I have zero control to fall into line. You can do everything “right” and still experience lackluster sales. That’s a tough thing to have to accept.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
I earned my degree in Comparative Literature, and it was a terrific experience. But I semi-regret that I didn’t go into some branch of biology instead. I have always loved animals and nature, and I would have loved to have been a naturalist—gone out into the woods to study plants or animals and report to the world what I’d discovered. But I have a lifelong math phobia (it started with a traumatic experience in second grade, but that’s a story for another day!) So when it was time to pick college majors, I veered away from the sciences. I often wonder if my life would have been different if I weren’t afraid of math.
How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
I have a two-stage process. First, I do a ton of preliminary work writing by hand in a notebook. I use little soft-cover notebooks, one per project, for this work, which is everything from character studies to drafting scenes. And if I run into a snag—say, a plot point doesn’t seem to make sense—I use the notebook almost like a journal. I’ll sit down and write out a question to myself: “why would this character want to do X?” Almost always, an answer will arise to my question. Or if not, I’ll put a sticky note to mark that page and come back to it.
Later, as a novel reaches completion, I use the same notebook to do things like keep track of characters’ names and to keep lists of things I need to do to finalize manuscripts.
I find handwriting in a notebook helps the writing process for me, probably because it gets me away from the computer—computers can introduce too many distractions, which are a huge problem, in particular, when I’ve hit a point in my novel draft where I’m not sure “what comes next.”
The novel draft itself, I create in Word on a computer. I have both a desktop and a laptop, and switch back and forth between them, depending on where I want to work in the house or whether I’m traveling.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
I’m an eight-hour a day gal, although I can get by on 7 if I need to. It’s funny, though. When I was in my twenties I needed nine or more. Then I had a baby, and ever since, I’ve needed less sleep.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
There are so many ways to answer that question! Dark Chemistry is a romantic suspense novel about a young woman who inherits a company when her father passes away. Unbeknownst to her, however, a couple of people working there have developed a type of synthetic chemical that can influence people emotionally and also sexually. You may have heard of pheromones: chemicals that animals use to pass signals to one another. The bad guys in Dark Chemistry use synthetic pheromones to do all kinds of evil things.
On another level, though, Dark Chemistry is about a woman—the heroine, Haley Dubose—who has to figure out two things. First, does she want to be like her mother or her father? This issue is complicated because she never really knew her father, and now he’s dead. But over the course of the book, she starts to learn what kind of man he was by the effect he had on people that did know him. The second thing she has to figure out is whether the physical attraction she feels toward one of the other characters in the book represents something that is genuine. And I don’t want to give too much away, but as I said, the evil men in the novel are using synthetic pheromones to manipulate people . . . so put two and two together and you can guess what poor Haley’s up against.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
I love to read. I love to spend time with the people I love and my sweet dog. I work out at least twice a week—I’ve been strength training for a number of years, and I love how it makes me feel. And I’m a golfer. As long as the weather is halfway decent, I try to get out on the course at least once a week. Working out and golfing help keep me balanced, in fact, because as a writer so much of my world happens inside my head—it’s important for me to re-connect with my physical body on a regular basis!
Do you have any tips on how writers can relax?
Yes! “A change of work is rest.” What I mean by that is: if something you’re doing starts to become stale or tiring, do something completely different. From my own experience, as a writer, I spend a lot of time indoors, sitting or standing at my computer, with my mind going at a million miles an hour. So to relax, I do activities that are the exact opposite. Golf is one example. When you golf—especially if you walk the course, like I do—you’re outdoors, you’re moving around, and you’re trying to achieve a state of “quiet mind.” You’re trying to shut off the verbal chatter and just live quietly in the moment so that your body can make smooth, effective golf swings.
If golf doesn’t appeal to you, you could try another sport, or yoga, or go hiking, or go to a museum. Anything that gets you away from your workspace, that involves physically moving your body, and where you can switch off the verbal, wordy parts of your brain for a while.
What color represents your personality the most?
Green—absolutely. My eyes are green, and it’s been my favorite color since I was around six or seven years old. It’s got a lot to do with my love of the natural world. I grew up in a very rural area in the central part of New York State. I spent all my free time, as a kid, wandering in the forest behind my parents’ home, hiking, camping, fishing. Green, to me, represents everything that is most vital and important about being alive on this planet: the experience of being a physical human being on Planet Earth.
How do you think people perceive writers?
It depends on the person. Most of the time, if I tell someone I’m a writer, they act a little awestruck. Sometimes I get the feeling that people would like to “collect” me—they want to hang out with me because they like the idea of “knowing a writer.”
A woman's worst nightmare
Drugged by something...that makes her think she's fallen in love.All Haley Dubose has ever known is beaches and malls, clubs and cocktail dresses.
But now her father is dead.
And if she wants to inherit her father's fortune, she has to leave sunny Southern California
for a backwater little town near Syracuse, New York. She has to run RMB, the multimillion dollar
chemical company her father founded. And she has to run it well.
Keep RMB on track, and she'll be rich. Grow it, and she'll be even richer. But mess it up, and her inheritance will shrink away before she gets a chance to spend a dime.
Donavon Todde is her true love. But is it too late?He's RMB's head of sales – and the more Donavon sees of Haley, the more he's smitten.
Sure, she comes across at first as naïve and superficial. But Donavon knew Haley's father. He can see the man's better qualities stirring to life in her eyes. And Donavon senses something else: Haley's father left her a legacy more important than money. He left her the chance to discover her true self.
Donavon has demons of his own.
He's reeling from a heartbreak that's taking far too long to heal. But he's captivated by this blond Californian, and not only because of her beauty. It's chemistry. They're right for each other. But has Donavon waited too long to woo this woman of his dreams? Because to his horror, his beautiful Haley falls under another spell. Gerad's spell.
A web of evil.Gerad Picket was second-in-command at RMB when Haley's father was alive. And with Haley on the scene, he's in charge of her training. But there are things about RMB that Gerad doesn't want Haley to know.
And he must control her. Any way he can.
Romantic suspense for your KindleWill Haley realize that her feelings are not her TRUE feelings?
Does Donavon have the strength left to fight for the woman he loves?
Will the two of them uncover Gerad's plot to use RMB pheromones to enslave the world?
And even if they do – can they stop it?
Genre – Romantic suspense
Rating – PG-13
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