1) First, tell us about yourself – where you live, your family, and those sorts of details.
Olympia, Washington is where I call home at the end of a cul de sac with an acre of forest I can lose myself walking the trail inside. My husband, Bob, and two Pomeranian pups fill out the main list of characters today, but there seems to be a swinging door somewhere letting adult children and grandchildren move in periodically.
2) How long have you been writing?
Off and on since I was old enough to hold a pencil and my first stories were plays acted out in the backyard by my friends for our parents. I wrote my first novella, tied with twine at the three holes in the notepaper, in seventh grade, Pierre and the Lonely Whiskey Jack. But there was no encouragement at home, I was told to stop being foolish and concentrate on getting a job out of school. Obedient, I’ve worked full time straight out of school, but made other stupid turns in the road of life, so it wasn’t until the year 2000 I actually signed my first publishing contract.
3) Do you have a favorite place to write?
I guess it’s the office computer as it lets me look out a front window into a mini grove of trees and up our driveway to the firs surrounding our cul de sac. However, my life contains a day job and sports active grandsons, so I find I’ve learned to write wherever I’m sitting still. In my car parked in front of my day job before I go in, a camp chair on a football field during two-hour practices for the last of the Bown boys, or in the living room keeping my husband company while he watches television by using my laptop.
4) Why did you decide to write Her Ghost Wears Kilts?
The original premise of the mystery came from a writing exercise in a class I was taking at the University of Riverside in California. I had to outline/brainstorm a murder mystery, a genre I didn’t read. I had the protagonist inherit a castle in Scotland in the middle of a land war between two clans: the Bruces and the Baillies, which were my maternal ancestors. I kept this outline in a box for years, pulling the idea out now and again to flesh out more of the story title The B&B Mystery. It percolated in the back of my mind, wouldn’t let go, for almost twenty years until it was time – the year 2012. The catalyst? I discovered on Facebook an opportunity to attend a week-long writers’ conference at Hever Castle in England put on by Abroad Writers. This was my “aha” moment. I pulled out the work in progress and found the characters excited to move ahead. I maxed out my credit cards and did tons of research while in England. The book practically finished itself when I returned.
5) Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Strangely it’s Gillian Nation, a character from my first romantic comedy Changes in Attitude who barged his way in stealing the spotlight from the main characters. It’s like he tossed his long blonde mane over his shoulder, snapped his fingers, adding a sass and sizzle to the entire storyline. Gillian expects an Oscar or an Emmy for his supporting role when the book is made into a movie.
6) How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I am not good with bad people; human negativity makes me break out in a rash of depression. Raised near Disneyland in the late fifties and sixties, I immersed myself in the classic fairy-tale movies, each with its own vicious, cruel villain. And who could forget the Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz? So I knew there had to be a murderer since it was a mystery, but Sean Bruce is my least favorite character in the book. Building his scenes felt like eating shards of glass or at least Grape Nuts cereal.
7) Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I go through my manuscripts at least three or four times on editing looking for passive, dull spots, doing the “which” hunt. I’ll read the pages aloud, seeing where things clunk. But I’m not a fool – I work too hard on my books not to put them through the ringer of a professional editor. Traditional publishing provides usually two passes of proof edits and when I self published I made sure I hired the pros like Barbara Fandrich in Olympia, to work her editing magic.
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m a very sedentary soul and my down time is curled up with a good book on the couch or watching countless hours of movies. A season pass to a movie theater would be the ultimate dream, but I try and treat myself to a handful of on-screen delight. Otherwise I DVR movies on Lifetime and Hallmark or pop in a DVD to lose myself in the dialogue and action of romantic comedies, animal stories and the classics.
9) Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
If you saw the inside of my house you wouldn’t need to ask the question. The office has floor-to-ceiling bookcases overflowing books with more stacked on the floor. The bedroom has a small bookcase with three or four huge stacks of books surrounding my side of the bed. I can’t fall asleep without reading, letting characters and plots soothe away reality and open the door to dreaming. I still have copies of my childhood favorites Beverly Cleary, Edward Eager and Madeline L’Engle. Then I devoured Olivia Goldsmith’s books and re-read the Outlander series of Diana Gabaldon every time a new book comes out.
10) Tell us more about the characters Rafael and T-Cup, who are they?
Originally there were three delightful girls in Gillian’s posse, Stormie Lee didn’t make the final cut. I enjoyed the research and found myself smiling whenever they were around. Now, my favorite Disney movie/princess is Sleeping Beauty and I’ve always wanted to live in the forest, taken care of by Flora, Fauna and Merriweather. I found my forest and I think Rafael, T-Cup and Stormie Lee became my three fairies, always using their power for good and kindness, protective of the young woman in their life.