How did you grow up? Do you think your upbringing affected your writing?
Up until the sixth grade, I grew up in a two bedroom ranch house several miles from the nearest neighbor. My three brothers and I rode horses, played in the barn, and worked in the fields. We eventually moved into bigger house in town, where I finally had my own bedroom. In high school, I was a member of the rodeo club (barrels and poles), basketball team, and honor society.
My upbringing taught me to work hard and dream big. Sometimes excessively so.
Do you listen to any music in particular as you write?
While I write, no. I have three young children, and we don't need anymore noise around here, thank you very much. But if I'm struggling to get in the creative mood, I'll sometimes listen to the Phantom of the Opera or other stirring sound tracks. I also like Josh Groban.
What is your favorite animal, and why?
Horses. No question. I love lying bareback on a horse, feeling their hard muscles moving beneath their slick coat, their warm smell rising all around me. I love their super sensitive lips nuzzling my hand for grain and their dark, liquid eyes. I love the feel of the wind pulling at my hair and stinging my eyes as we soar as one over sage, their bodies expanding with every breath. I'm never more alive than when I'm on the back of a horse.
If you could go anywhere to get "background" for a writing project, where would it be?
Hawaii. Apparently, it has every single climate. And volcanoes. And a warm ocean (which both terrifies me and thrills me—the ocean part. Not the warm part). And fresh bananas (I've always wanted to try one of those).
How do you think a setting affects who people are? How are people the same, regardless of their setting?
Different settings provide different challenges. Challenges give us the opportunity to learn and grow. There are those who stand strong in the current of challenges. And those who are swept away. As for how people are the same: you might not be able to control where you stand, but you can control that you stay standing.
If there was any one message you could give to young people, what would it be?
First, love yourself. Respect yourself. Honor yourself. What makes you different is what makes you beautiful. And make no mistake about it, you are beautiful.
What makes a good book for you?
I love a writer who can pull your emotions in with the protagonist. When they cry, you sob; when they love, you burn; when they struggle, you fight for them. Also, pacing is key. Something that keeps me flipping through the pages until the early morning hours.
What are some of your favorite authors?
I absolutely love Shannon Hale and Kristin Cashore. Let's face it, the girls can write and write well. I also like Brandon Mull, Tolkien, David Farland, Jessica Day George, Clare B Dunkle, Jennifer Roberson, Suzanne Collins, Clare B Dunkle, and Robin McKinley. I could probably go on forever.
Why did you choose to write YA Fantasy?
Fantasy because it's what I love to read, and it came naturally to me. It's also how I dream. I can create a world how I want it and not follow any preconceived rules. I love writing YA because of all the struggles involved in that age group: finding out who and what you are, choosing the path your life will take, deciding what kind of person you will be, falling in love, transitioning from a child to an adult, etc. All of these make for built in themes that add depth to a story.
What made you want to write this book?
I always wanted to be a writer, but fear of failure held me back. When my second son was born with colic, I wrote for the simple solace of it. After stumbling around for a few chapters, I thought, "this story has to be told." I dedicated myself to improving my writing and attending every writer's group and conference I could.
Has trying to publish your book taught you anything?
I think Randy Pausch said it all: "Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how strongly we want things. They stop the people who don't want it bad enough—the other people." Believe me, I hit a lot of brick walls. Some even invited me over the wall before tossing me back.
Who does your covers?
Eve Ventrue did Witch Song and Witch Born. Laura Sava did Winter Queen. They are both amazing artists and great to work with.
Are you still publishing with Rhemalda Publishing?
No. I've moved into indie publishing. Rhemalda was a good choice for my first book. Independent publishing has been a great choice for the subsequent ones.
What order should you read Witch Song's trilogy?
Even though Witch Fall is a prequel, I recommend reading it last. It's a bit spoilery for the first two books.
What age group are your books?
The Witch Song Trilogy is geared toward young adult (high school), but I've had children as young as 10 read an enjoy it. It's very clean content wise. The Fairy Queens Trilogy is a solid YA. Content wise, I'd compare it to Hunger Games.