1. Have you always had a passion for writing?
As an adult, I’d say yes. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism, so I must’ve gotten the writing bug sometime as a young adult. As a kid, I can’t remember writing much, but I read everything I could get my hands on. I did (and still do) have a very active imagination.
2. Does what you read influence what you write and what are some of your favourite authors/books?
I think every author has to be influenced one way or another by the things they read. Because I don’t limit myself to just one or two genres, I find inspiration in just about everything. I can read a travel book and become inspired by the scenery, asking myself what could happen there on that landscape.
That said, I find it hard to have absolute favorite authors and books. I own, at last count, over 600 actual books (and over 200 eBooks). Thus, there are very few I go back and read over and over. I like both the ‘big boys’ (JRR Tolkien, JR Ward, JK Rowling, Tony Hillerman) and the independents (Allison Cassatta, Johanna Rae, Caitlin Ricci, Aaron Speca).
3. What are your biggest inspirations?
I do get a lot of my ideas when I’m in that state between awake and sleeping and actually have written a couple of stories based on dreams. I’m inspired by the world around me, always seeking that happy ending we all yearn for.
4. Do you have a technique in how you choose characters and/or locational settings?
I hit my travel books quite a lot, so I can visually see the place and get to know the setting as well. Would do no good to have constant sunshine if you’re going to set a story in Seattle or have snow in New Orleans … unless, of course, that’s part of the plot twist.
5. Do you listen to music while you are creating your masterpieces?
I have to have some sort of noise while I read, whether it be the tv or radio. If it’s the radio, it’s usually Pandora and my music station I created based on Michael Whalen’s new age instrumental music. Very soothing and no words to interrupt my thought processes. That said, I still can write if the TVs on, provided it’s something I don’t care about watching, such as the endless NCIS reruns on USA.
6. What do you do to stay motivated and avoid writer’s block?
I don’t. LOL I’m in the middle of writer’s block right now. Outside stressors are keeping me from the computer. I’m hoping things might calm down in a month or so so I can get back to my vampire novel. I’d like to finish it by my birthday (August 24th) and submit it to a major publishing house. Don’t know if that’s doable as it’s not quite half-way finished, but it’s a goal I’m hoping to at least get close to.
7. How has becoming a published author (independent or traditional) changed your perspective on life and is it everything you expected it to be? (If you are not published yet – what changes do you foresee?)
It hasn't changed it too much. As until now, all my published works have been short story ebooks, I haven’t had too much exposure and haven’t expected too much in return. However, with a book in actual print coming out, I hope this might change. Not looking to be New York Times famous (how cool would that be?!) but I’ll take at least a few more reviews and feedback, either good or bad, so I can continue to grow as a writer.
8. What are your biggest challenges as an author?
Finding the time and motivation to write. I have to work three jobs and still have financial difficulty, which plays havoc on my mood and writing ability. If the monetary situation improves, I can certainly see my writing improving.
9. Do you have any pets?
My ever-faithful companion, Maggie. She’s a rescue dog. I call her breed ‘American Mutt’ as she’s probably a bunch of things all combined into one. Maybe one of these days I can get her DNA sequenced and I’ll know what breeds she’s a conglomeration of. I can’t ever see myself without at least one dog in my life.
10. What hobbies do you have outside of reading and writing?
Photography is a biggie. My really good camera broke a couple of years ago, so I haven’t been able to do much, but here’s hoping Santa is good to me this year. I’d love to do a photograph book based on the local arboretum – Morton Arboretum (of the Morton Salt fame). ‘A Year in the Life of Morton’ – I want to go to the arboretum on or near the same day of each month and take pictures. My first non-fiction book.
I also enjoy horseback riding (when I can afford it), cooking and, like most writers, book shopping.
11. Where is the most exciting/memorable place you have been in the world?
Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve been to very exciting or memorable places. I’ve travelled almost everywhere in the USA, with the exception of the Northwest and the extreme Northeast. Oh and never been to Alaska nor Hawaii. Would be great to be able to hit all 50 states before I die. I have been to Canada and Mexico and while both are beautiful countries, I don’t recall the trips being exceptionally memorable. Guess I need to get out more!
12. Tell us about your latest work in progress or most recent published work…
‘Last of the Summer Tomatoes’ comes out July 18th by Dreamspinner Press’ imprint, Harmony Ink. It’s a young adult gay romance. Here’s the blurb:
Kyle Jackowski, typical sullen emo teen, struggles to find a way to deal with his sexuality and finds himself in trouble with the law… again. But instead of being sent to a juvenile detention center like he expected, he is given a chance to commute his sentence by working on a farm for the summer.
Enter Sam, son of the farm owners, who shows Kyle what he feels is perfectly normal and that he doesn’t have to hide from his feelings. In turn, Sam’s parents show Kyle that his abusive stepfather and battered mother are not the norm. With their love and support, Kyle finds his place in the world—by Sam’s side.
It can be purchased either in paperback or ebook at Dreamspinner!
I do have a couple of novellas and another short story that has been accepted for publication, hopefully all of them by the end of the year. For updates, please visit my website:
And, as stated above, I’m working on a vampire novel that I want to send to a major publishing house this year. I know it’s a long-shot, but one will never know if one doesn’t try, right?
Thank you, Johanna, for allowing me to take over your blog for a day. It’s greatly appreciated and I wish you luck on your writing endeavours!