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Latest Book: Begin Again
Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
There are several pieces to this answer. My main goal was to explore an unfortunately realistic component of relationships (infidelity). Within that, which I'm not so sure I can call inspiration because that sounds awful, I was inspired by how a person can blow up their entire life and manage to emerge from the destruction with only a few battle wounds. On some level, I find inspiration in struggle -- I'm cynical and fairly pessimistic about love and relationships, which is ironic considering I just wrote a "romance," but it's the struggle of change and the discomfort of growth that inspires me to write. I think those characters, those struggles, need to be seen, too.
Why was the story so important to you?
My off-the-cuff answer is: because I set a goal and was determined to complete it, that being writing an entire book. That alone is extremely important to me.
Beyond that, I appreciate the formulaic "escapism" of most lesbian romances. Believe me, I need an escape just as much as any other reader. But Begin Again is so important to me because it breaks the mold. It doesn't give the reader a happy little sexy escape. It challenges the reader, and it makes them uncomfortable. Yes, there's romance within the story, and there's certainly sexiness as well, but it was important to me to be true to myself as a writer and not fall into the predictability of formula in romance. (Totally gonna piss people off by saying that but oh well.)
Tell us about the characters
Emery is my favorite because I can admit she and I are a lot alike. I made a critical error in claiming her to be a Libra. SHE IS NOT, she is totally a Taurus. Other than that, Emery struggles. She makes bad decisions. She actively fucks up her life, knows she's doing it, and can't stop herself. I appreciate that about her (obviously yes I have also done this) because she owns the fact that she is a flawed human/character. Because of this, Emery has the most dramatic journey. She creates her own drama but eventually she gets it all under control.
I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge Burke's importance. I essentially created my dream woman when I crafted Burke. I'm madly in love with her. It's truly a shame she doesn't exist.
As a writer...
How do you deal with bad reader reviews?
NOT VERY WELL. This has been the most challenging element of being a published author AND it's one of the reasons I dragged my feet for so long before submitting my book for publication. I'm sensitive and I overthink -- not a great combination for someone who has opened themselves up to critique of people who know nothing about me other than the words I've penned. Anyway... I've stopped reading my reviews. I learned very quickly, as they started rolling in, that I didn't provide the escape most lesfic readers crave (I mean, I knew I did that, I just didn't realize how big of an issue that was). Initially, I was genuinely upset because it was quite clear that some readers were (gonna piss people off again) not GETTING the book. I took that pretty hard. And then I had a different reaction that I'll keep to myself.Ultimately, I know that I can't please everyone, nor do I want to. I've reached a point where I understand the appreciative audience for this book might be quite small, and that's perfectly okay.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Pippi Longstocking. The Babysitter's Club. Sweet Valley High. My mom instilled in me a love for reading very, very early in my life. I tore through books as a child and adolescent, and not much has changed in adulthood.Fun fact: I started sneaking my mom's Danielle Steel books when I was in middle school. That might explain something about me. :-)
What was the first book that made you cry?
I can't remember the *first* book but I can tell you the most recent. "You Should See Me in a Crown" by Leah Johnson. I just read it on vacation and was crying on the beach. Thank god for sunglasses.
What is your favourite author?
It is insanely hard to answer this question but Jeanette Winterson might get the crown. "Written on the Body" holds a very special place in my heart, and it was part of my portfolio for my masters degree in English literature. Winterson is unconventional and I love her for it. Here are some others because, well, English teacher life: Jeannette Walls, Zora Neale Hurston, Suzanne Collins, Neal Shusterman, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lauren Groff, Tom Perrotta, David Levithan, Jandy Nelson...
What can you tell us about your work in progress?
I keep flipping back and forth between three manuscripts and ideas. One is a spin off from Begin Again -- Allison's story. I thought that was going to be my third book, but I've gotten distracted by a secondary character from my second book, Across The Hall (currently awaiting editing). Lina is from ATH and I recently got slammed with ideas for her book, so that might be where I go next. But then there's a young adult book I've been mentally plotting for a while and also began... so, yeah, I guess we can say that there's a lot going on re: works in progress, but it's mostly all mental at this point. I'm in a rut, which seems to be my pattern while I'm waiting to hear back from my editor.
As a person...
Where/what is your happy place?
The Outer Banks. I am happiest while sitting on the beach and this particular area gives me the greatest sense of calm.
What did you want to be before you grew up?
A teacher or an interior designer. Because I'm practical, I went the teaching route.
What are your best and worst traits?
Best: my blunt honesty, my intelligence, my sense of loyalty for my loved ones.Worst: my blunt honesty, my inability to let go, my stubbornness.
What is the first thing you notice about a person?
What three words would best describe you?
Persistent, introverted, sarcastic