I am a single woman with seven self-appointed second mothers. (No, I'm not kidding.) I lead a small, quiet, sometimes weird life in a town right outside of Charleston, South Carolina, that involves three churches and a soggy bit of reclaimed swamp. My family moved here when I was a teenager—many, many moons ago—and before that, we'd lived in the Rockies, the Blue Ridge mountains, and a brief stint deep in Yankeeville (with all due respect to my favorite Northerners, never again). I attended college back in the Blue Ridge mountains, and came home with a bachelor's in literature and a master's in gossip. Last I heard, the latter was in a drawer somewhere, collecting dust.
2) How long have you been writing?
Not long enough, I often feel like. I started trying to write, oh, I don't know, before I was ten, although I didn't write and finish my first novel until college. I had intended that project to only be an exercise in perseverance. However, I found that I not only loved the work—which didn't surprise me—but it was better than it should have been. So I wrote another, and then another, and started aggressively learning more about craft than criticism (which had been my college focus). That later, serious process has been about twelve years.
3) Do you have a favorite place to write?
Like most writers I know, I prefer a bit of a sensory deprivation tank so I can concentrate. The closest I can get is sitting comfortably with my laptop in a well-lit corner of my house. (I get restless, especially towards the end of a first draft, and tend to move from floor to table to chair with two pillows and a pot of tea.) As long as there is indirect sunlight and steady stream of music, I'm not picky.
4) Why did you decide to write The Silent Swan?
Because I love it. I had wanted to retell Grimm's “The Six Swans” in a modern setting for awhile, but I thought Tam's situation kept looking very Cinderella-like. When Gabe burst into my imagination fully formed, the story took on whole new dimensions where I didn't know what would happen next. When writing, I like my characters to take over and surprise me, and I loved every bit of finding out how these characters were going to grow into the fairy tale.
5) Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Oh, do I have to pick one? Initially, I might have said Tam, because she was helping get Gabe out of my head and into her house. But the boys—both the Pritzes and the Swanns—have turned out to be such a delightful jumble of energy and fun that there's a constant King of the Hill battle going on for the favorite. Alex tends to steal the show, so it's hard not to pick him.
6) How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
You'd think I would hate Kerry, who has that great sucking well where a soul should be, but I've known and loved enough people like her that she's never a surprise. I'm not crazy about Dan most of the time (though he has these moments...), but I think Stephanie edges him out. She's a little pushy for my taste.
7) Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I do a lot of proofing and editing in the course of writing and revision. I'm not quite on a professional level, but I'm nitpicky enough to get the job done. But AltWit Press has also put together a terrific team of editors and readers who have been amazing with this book.
8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When am I not writing? Seriously, I'm one of those people who narrates her steps when she gets up in the middle of the night. Oh, wait—maybe there isn't a whole set of people like that. Aside from work, there are small-group church activities that revolve mostly around prayer and praise. I keep trying to start a garden, but I seem to have inherited a bit of a black thumb. I am a terrible bibliophile, and have been known to carry a small library in my purse or backpack if I'm going to be away from my bookshelves or a friendly bookstore for more than 24 hours. And, while I'm careful not to own a TV (I'd never get anything done...), there is always Youtube. I do admit to being a bit of a junkie there.
9) Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read with such rapacity that I usually go on “fiction fasts” when I have a work in progress. Favorite authors are hard to pick, because I have a wide variety of taste and these are constantly changing. Some of the books I cannot live without are Stephen Lawhead's Song of Albion trilogy, CS Lewis' 'Til We Have Faces, the first two books of LM Montgomery's Emily trilogy (I always recommend these to young authors), MM Kaye's Shadow of the Moon and The Ordinary Princess, Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run With the Wolves, Terry Pratchett's Theif of Time, Calvin Miller's The Singer, Norman Juster's The Dot and the Line: A Romance in the Lower Mathematics, Steven James' The Pawn, and my collections of Austen, Shakespeare, and Rossetti. Everything else rotates. Shoot, I should alphabetize those. Or maybe the Dewey decimal system...?
10) What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
One question that's been coming up with delightful, if alarming, frequency is some variation on “You gave us an affectionate cover, and then didn't even deliver kissing. What's up with that?” Which isn't unreasonable. This story is a romance about perspective. As Gabe's viewpoint on Tam changes from foreign to familiar, his views on everyone else also change. And since he has first-hand experience (from living with Alex) in what kind of hurdles love creates for an abused foster child, Gabe has no interest in racing the bases with Tam. Because she has not embraced a promiscuous life up until now, he can reasonably assume she's going to be a tough sell. As such, his perspective by the end of the story is as much about his end goal of keeping Tam's affection permanently as it is these moments of securing it in the first place.