Hello! First off, I’d like to thank Bookshelf Cafe News for interviewing me. It’s been an honor.
1. Have you ever traveled as research for your book?
I have never traveled to conduct research for a book, but I have visited many of the locations described in my YA urban fantasy novels. Dragons Walk Among Us takes place in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve visited most of the sites mentioned in the tale numerous times. In the sequel, The Blood of Faeries, Allison Lee ends up in Singapore, a fantastic city I have visited on several occasions. The third novel in the series, which I am currently writing, has a good portion of the action take place in Hawaii. That tropical paradise is a place my family loves to visit. I find writing about places I have been to makes capturing the feel of a locale easier.
2. Whom do you trust for objective and constructive criticism of your work?
That would be my writing group, the Puget Sound Writers’ Guild. I have studiously listened to their critiques for years, much to my benefit. As a writer, I always need a fresh perspective on my work. I’m too close to the story to notice all the fatal flaws.
3. How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
I celebrate by starting the next book. If you hold down a day job, as I do, you can never really stop writing if you endeavor to produce a book year.
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me roughly nine to twelve months to plan, draft, and edit a piece. Then, once the book is polished up the best I can, I send it off to my editor. With any luck, six months later or so, my publisher has released the novel. Just to give you an idea, I write YA urban fantasy. My books average about 86,000 words.
5. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?
I’d pick Joe. In the first book, he’s a homeless veteran suffering from a case of undiagnosed PTSD. Still, he’s a good guy who does his best to help Allison Lee. As the series progresses, his situation improves. In a spin-off, I think he’d be a paranormal investigator, using his considerable wisdom and wit to overcome obstacles while continuing to deal with the trauma he suffered while at war.
6. If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?
Currently, book two in The Allison Lee Chronicles is going through the revision process with my editor. I’m also working on the rough draft for book three. Right now, I’m planning on the entire series being four or five books.
Here is a teaser for book two, The Blood of Faeries:
Allison Lee wilts under the bright light of celebrity after being exposed as a shape-shifting monster. She’d rather be behind the camera than in front of it. Being under the tooth and claw of her monstrous mother is even less enjoyable. All she desires is for everything to go back to the way things were before she discovered her true nature. But, after she accidentally kills a mysterious man sent to kidnap her, she realizes piecing her old life back together is one gnarly jigsaw puzzle. When Allison’s sometimes boyfriend Haji goes missing, Allison and her squad suspect his unhealthy interest in magic led to his disappearance. Their quest to find Haji brings them face-to-face with beings thought long ago extinct whose agenda remains an enigma.
7. What are common traps for new authors?
Gosh. I think there are tons of traps. Too many to list, honestly. Most are probably variations of the following:
- Too little or zero planning. Some people can probably get away without planning a novel, but I suspect most people can’t. You have to do some planning. Some people need to plan more than others, which is okay. I’m definitely a planner. Generally, writing the rough draft is easy for me because I’ve done so much planning, I know the plot inside and out. Whenever I struggle with drafting a scene or chapter, it’s usually due to poor planning.
- Too little editing is a huge issue. For me, editing a novel takes about as much time as writing the draft. Once you factor in the time spent in the hands of my editor and revisions, the entire editorial process takes longer than planning and writing the novel.
- Thinking that the strong aspects of your writing will compensate for deficiencies. In my experience, you must always endeavor to improve every part of your writing.
8. What books have you read more than once in your life?
Let’s see. Dune, my favorite book of all time; The Song of Ice and Fire, my favorite fantasy series hands-down; Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
9. What inspired the idea for your book?
In the opening chapter of Dragons Walk Among Us, Alison Lee is bullied about her biracial appearance. The themes regarding acceptance and diversity woven through the story stem from this encounter. The scene is loosely based on my eldest son’s experience at summer camp.
10. What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?
I suppose writing a first-person story with a female teenage protagonist was a risk, as I am neither a female nor a teenager. The risk has paid off. First, with requests for full manuscripts, and eventually a publisher picking up the novel. Now, that risk has turned into a YA urban fantasy series, with the second book due out later this year.