Q: When do you write?
A: I usually write from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.
Q: How much do you write a day?
A: My goal is to get at least 1,000 words down on paper, but I usually shoot for closer to double that. If I’m really in the groove, and I don’t have errands to do, such as (yuck) grocery shopping, I’ll continue writing into the afternoon.
Q: How many books do you write a year?
A: I’m averaging one book a year.
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: The first draft usually takes three to four months and then the next eight or nine months is spent revising and rewriting.
Q: Do you write yourself into the books?
A: Yes and no. Let me explain — I once read that every single character in an author’s book contains bits and pieces of the author — that includes the antagonist. There are parts of me that are like Gabriella Giovanni, but then there are parts of her that are nothing like me. In fact, she’s way cooler than I ever was as a newspaper reporter.
Q: Do you write your children into your books?
A: No way.
Q: I wrote a book. Will you read the manuscript?
A: Because of legal concerns, my publisher and agent have advised me not to read any manuscript that is unsolicited and unpublished.
Q: How do you bring characters to life?
A: I start by sketching an idea of what they are like but then they sort of reveal themselves to me on the page. They take on a life of their own outside of me.
Q: How did you get started with a publisher?
A: I took the old-fashioned journey: Send out a million queries, get a million rejections, repeat, keep at it, and eventually get an offer from a rock star agent, who then got me a book deal.
Q: Do you like ebooks/what do you think about ebooks?
A: I do like ebooks. I don’t see them replacing traditional books, only giving readers another option.
Q: How do you keep your series books straight?
A: I create a series bible with lists of characters names, backgrounds and some plot points.
Q: Do you do author talks at bookstores?
A: I will. I’ll do author talks anywhere, book clubs, coffee shops, bars, you name it. I can’t wait to talk to my readers in person.
Q: Do you write about people you know?
A: Just like bits and pieces of me end up in my novels, so do fragments of the people I know.
Q: Do you help with your titles?
A: I always turn in a manuscript with a title attached.
Q: With your covers?
Q: Do you write on the computer or longhand?
A: I’d lose my mind trying to capture my thoughts fast enough in longhand. I might be able to do it, but I wouldn’t be able to read it later.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Ernest Hemingway, Sara Gran, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Lisa Unger, Joan Didion, Anais Nin, and many, many more.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: My real life writer friends, so very many of them, but off the top of my head, the hardest working ones I know, such as Owen Laukkanen, who often writes as much as 5,000 words a day. And Joelle Charbonneau, a mother of a toddler and voice teacher, who still managed to crank out four books in one year.
Q: Where do you write?
A: Either at the bar counter in my kitchen, sitting on a backless stool, or at the neighborhood coffee shop when my finances allow me to splurge on a latte.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: A young adult novel, a mystery, set in Minneapolis.
Q: Your bio says you’re an artist. What’s up with that?
A: Unfortunately, I don’t have time to indulge my love of art or photography right now, but I can tell you that my Mexican-style assemblage pieces have been featured in two exhibits. The art pieces are made of photographs of shrines and altars combined with vintage jewelry pieces, found and recycled objects and pictures of Frida Kahlo. They have sold across the world.
I’ve also had an exhibit of my photography. “Ghost Bikes” honored four Minnesota bicyclists killed within a few months of one another. It included photographs of the Ghost Bike altars created in their memory on city streets and small photographs and biographies of the slain bicyclists.