How did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t think I ever decided. I always wanted to write. For me, it’s the perfect combination of… everything. It’s the opportunity to work all my favorite things, odd bits of knowledge and quirky side interests, into a cohesive product. A story. The possibility that anything might be of use some day justifies my pursuit of the random and I love that.

However, although I always wanted to write and did in a casual way for many years (from I think about age 8 upwards?), it took me a while to pursue it seriously, to spend the time, and make the big effort.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

I’ve always believed that everyone, whether secretly or not-so-secretly, has at least one book in them, one story fiction or nonfiction or some topic they could explore and expound upon. What makes a writer then, is interest (in the whole writing part) and perseverance. Writing anything from start to finish takes effort, patience, more effort, and time. So to all aspiring writers… just keep going! Keep writing, keep editing, keep submitting, keep improving… just keep going!

My second piece of advice for aspiring writers is to get your hands on some genuine critics. Whether it’s a writing circle, a critique partner, or a set of trusted friends who give honest feedback, feedback is important (I’ve used all three). No one writes a brilliant draft on the first try!

How do you get your ideas?

Anything and everything. I read a lot. I like history. That helps. But also, outside-of-writing hobbies. Every little bit of quirky expertise eventually finds its way into one of my novels. Sometimes it’s something big, an overarching idea, a grand plot. Other times it’s some small detail. But every bit helps!

How do you deal with writer’s block?

 Just keep writing. I try to keep my dedicated “writing hours” strictly for writing even if I’m not as productive as I’d like. If I’m drawing a blank in one place I’ll start in somewhere else and come back later or I’ll edit an already-written scene to help get things moving. And sometimes if it’s really bad I’ll cut my losses and put on a movie. It happens.

I’ve written a novel. Will you read it?

First, congratulations! Second, I wish I could read everything – like, all the books ever. Sadly I cannot. But I’m always excited to hear about new writers so keep a good thought, keep at it, and keep me posted!

Will you come to my school/bookstore/festival/event?

Check out the “Contact Me” page and send me a line. I love nothing more than talking about books and writing – and meeting other people who love books and writing.

 Who is your favorite author?

 I don’t think I could ever pick just one. I love love Jane Austen – I find the whole rise of the novel fascinating (I went to grad school for this so don’t get me started… I might not stop). I have a guilty passion for rereading Agatha Christie novels. I may refer to her as Agatha in casual conversation. I love Ursula K. LeGuin – her science fiction is genius but her Earthsea books (the original trilogy especially) are lovely. Charles de Lint for urban fantasy – I would move to Newford if I could. And there’s so many talented YA authors out there right now. My to-read list is beyond out of control.