Who or what influenced your writing over the years? Well, as publishing changed and opened up to self/indie publishing, my mentors changed a bit. There are many that I met in those original groups whom I still see and talk to regularly, but as I took on the responsibility of not only turning out the best book I could, but added the jobs related to publishing, I found I needed to meet with people who were doing that.
What made you want to be a writer? What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? For me, it’s the revision after the first and second drafts. I adore the first draft—just letting it all out…and I adore the finished product, but in between…it’s painful for me. I’ve started to enjoy the process of revision more, I really, really like playing with the exact words I want to use and the way I want a sentence to flow, stop and start. That has grown on me a bunch as I learned to trust that the words are there, that the first choice was not necessarily the best.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? This book, Love and Other Subjects, taught me a lot about my career path. The novel was inspired by my first years of teaching and the group of women I lived with at the time. They were absolutely incredible people and teachers and I was just okay…oh my gosh, the single smartest thing about me at that time was that I knew what I didn’t know. And I was smart enough to go find the answers when no one had them at the school or in the county. I was a good teacher when I could boil down my day to actual teaching (like I was able to do at the very high-functioning, wealthy suburban district where I did my internship)…but add in discipline, chaos, and the plethora of stuff many teachers have to do beyond actually teaching and I really struggled at the time. The book also allowed me to explore race, friendship and love in a way that my first two books didn’t. Love and Other Subjects was just such a fun book for me to write. Very straightforward compared to the others I’ve written. I guess the book also is a reflection of what I learned professionally over the years more than a project that taught me in the way my historical fiction does. The race issue required me to really examine my experiences with friends and work as well. Writing about another race in a fictional way is tricky. I can only hope it comes across as respectfully done, that it shows the character of Carolyn growing in what she understands about other races and cultures.
Do you intend to make writing a career? It already is my career!
Have you developed a specific writing style? I don’t think so. All three books are about different times in history and each required a completely different style…I’m writing a follow-up to The Last Letter right now and I’m finding that as soon as I’m in the writing, that voice comes back…that tells me it was the right one for that book.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? Yikes, I would say writing layered, different, (even if not likable )characters is my strength.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I have it for the first time, right now. The distractions associated with the business of publishing are pulling me out of my typical writing groove. This is a first and I am going to have to make a plan that stops that from happening…very soon… very, very soon.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? Love and Other Subjects is a love story and post college coming of age story. I guess there’s a new category called, “new adult,” that explores the twenty-something era of life. This fits that to a T! Carolyn is searching for a way to be great at her job, teaching, and also to nurture a love life and keep her friends close as she sees them as siblings she never had. Carolyn’s a fun character, self-deprecating, though very self-centered. She has a good heart and wants to change the world…of course that can’t happen…not at first, anyway. She’s caught between the wealthy old-monied life of her boyfriend and the very poor lives that most of her students lead. She’s the quintessential fish out of water in every aspect of her life. Even her friends are moving on with engagements and boyfriends…she just feels very lost. But the book, the tone of it is fun, snappy, chick-littish!
How did you come up with the title? Love and Other Subjects was originally called Opposite of That. The original title sort of sums up everything Carolyn learns about herself and her world at the time—but my publicist really thought it didn’t offer enough context for potential buyers. We brainstormed a hundred titles and settled on Love and Other Subjects because it lets the readers know teaching is part of the book, but that it is fun and about love as well.
Genre – Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG15