How important is research to you when writing a book?
I am a bit crazed about accuracy in a historical fiction book. There are many who share valid-sounding reasons for me not to be crazed, but nothing less than absolute would be fair to the reader, in my personal opinion.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
This may sound cliché, but I always knew I would be a writer. While in third grade, I entered a school-wide American Legion essay contest. Grades 1 through 8 participated, so chances of a third-grader winning were slim. However, I took the contest seriously and did the best I could at my first real writing effort. Imagine my surprise when I placed 2nd in the whole school! Oh, who took 1st place, you ask? Yes, that would be my older sister. We had some proud parents that day.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?
Yes, I think so. Many writers, myself included, hear their character’s voices and often talk to them. Not as in, ‘all writers are schizophrenics’ type voices, but voices nonetheless. It is harder to hear those voices when you’re surrounded by a lot of “real” people.
Do you think writers have a normal life like others?
I think a writer’s life is as normal to them as a carpenter’s life is to a carpenter. A writer has daydreams, and nightmares, and thoughts, and experiences just like everyone else. The difference is that a writer puts words down describing these things so everyone else will able to see it, too.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
Experience has loosened my prose. For many years, my writing was stiff. I’ve relaxed, and so has my writing. I stopped trying to sound like a writer, and became one instead.
Was it all too easy for you – the writing, the publication, and the sales?
No. Many years ago, when I first started writing with a goal of publication in mind, I wrote a children’s article, submitted it to a magazine (via US Postal Service in those days) and within a few weeks, I received a contract! I pitched them a second one, they accepted. I thought, “Wow! This is going to be easier than I thought!” So I dropped everything and started writing a novel. I had a few more children’s stories and articles published during the next fifteen-plus years, but no novel. It wasn’t until I won the 2014 Short Story Contest in Southern Writers magazine that wondrous things happened. The same day I received notification about winning the contest, I also received my first book contract. Within a few days, two more publishing offers arrived on the same novel. So, mine was an overnight success that only took fifteen years.
Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or can you just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I admire the writers who can go to coffeehouses or sit on park benches and whip out masterpieces. I can’t do it. I have tried. I need solitude. Sometimes, absolute silence. My home office, which has windows that look out across our wooded hills, is my writing sanctuary.
Have you received any awards for your literary works?
Yes! SHADOW OF THE HAWK received a gold medal in the 2015 Literary Classics Book Awards and it also won first place in the esteemed Chaucer Awards for YA historical fiction.