What books did you love growing up?
Anything Jane Austen and Hemingway. Oh, and Brian Jaques’ Redwall series. Something about Mathias was just special to me. I also loved the Boxcar Children series and some of the old fairy tale classics that have been watered down to just Disney-touched ones. I also adore anything written by Mark Twain, T.A. Barron (fantasy), and Tim O’Brien. One of the best books of this century, if you ask me, is O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and I am ecstatic to see it finally make the required reading list in California and a few other states.
Who is your favorite author?
I refuse to choose. Seriously… But, if I had to narrow it down, you’d find Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, and Mark Twain hanging out. Now that’s a sit down dinner I’d like to be privy to!
What book genre of books do you adore?
I adore fantasy/sci-fi, paranormal, and historical fiction. Of course, anything really floats my boat, but those have special places and are the most read in my library. I love the wild imagination that those genres require and there’s just something fun about leaving this world for another.
What book should everybody read at least once?
Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” – it’s become (finally) required reading in several states, but there’s something just – ugh – magic about this novel. And it has nothing to do with the gravity of the subject matter or the flow of his voice and prose. There is something so magical and real about his characters and their personalities that I can still recite paragraphs from that book and tell you the names of all the characters even though I haven’t read it in a couple years and my thesis on it was written almost ten years ago. Read the book and meet Ted Lavender and tell me what you think… I think only then will you truly understand the genius of that book.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I’m probably going to get hate mail for this, but I am not a huge fan of older Tolkien works. I love his early writings, but the later on in his career he went, the less appealing they became to me. I’m also not a fan of a lot of young adult books that oversimplify their characters and story and baby their readers. Just because a story is for young adults doesn’t mean they can’t process deep meanings, complex feelings, or flawed, multi-dimensional characters — right?
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I’m from Los Angeles and I lived in that area until I was 18. After that, I travelled around the U.S. a lot and I’ve visited almost all 50 states. I’ve lived in D.C., Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Maryland, and Washington state and driven back and forth across the U.S. multiple times. There’s something amazing about our country that I think you have to see first hand by stopping at roadside places, pit barbecues off the main highway, and broken down general stores. Once you do, you have access to this truly deep well of characters and stories. After floating around for a bit, I returned back to Southern California and I currently hang out between Los Angeles and the beaches. Man, I love L.A.!
How did you develop your writing?
My main way of developing my writing was to write. Plain and simple. The more you do something, the better you get. That, and I read – a lot. I also decided to put my college and graduate school into the writing fields. I have a Bachelor’s in English where I did my focus on literature and linguistics and I then finished a MFA in Creative Writing with a focus on the Entertainment Industry. I’ve worked as a script coverage reader and a developmental editor, and I am a beta reader for a few writing friends.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
All over the place! It hits me out of nowhere, but once it hits – kablam! I mean, I can be walking around a farmer’s market and see a kid staring at nothing and be inspired to write a story about what that child is actually seeing and why the adults can’t see it too. I love reading about different centuries, countries, cultures, and locations – all of which provide bits of inspiration. The inspiration for my current series – the Dragonics & Runics fantasy series – came when I fell asleep to the History Channel that had two back-to-back specials. The first special was about Hitler and his rise to power, and the second was about Dragons. Go figure…
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
I’m doing the self-publishing path for now, so the hardest bit is managing all three of those tasks – writing, publishing, and marketing – to put out the best product I possibly can. The writing is one of the easiest parts and I have a great team of editors and supporters that help me publish. The marketing is exhaustive but can be fun… I mean, I don’t really like to look at anything as hard. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. It’s not a chore, it’s an adventure.
What marketing works for you?
I try everything. Social Networking like Twitter and Facebook are great – oh, and GoodReads, too. I spend a small bit on ad space and then I go to conventions like Phoenix Comicon. My biggest marketing success is from word of mouth. I have people giving their copies to friends who then give it to other friends. That seems to work the best and funny thing is, that’s the oldest trick in the book.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
I won’t share it if it isn’t ready. Once it is ready, I want feedback so I can make it even better. I think if I were to get stuck at worrying about how to share or what will happen after sharing, I’d never get very far. Sure, it’s a bit scary and nerve racking – you’re handing over your bared soul. But, in the end, you’re going to learn from it. Your writing will improve. And, so will your story.
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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG-13