If you want to know what I’m working on now, details about my writing habits, how I spend my free time, and general inspiration for writing, read on! For my answers about specific books and projects, take a look at the individual pages for more FAQs. Also, please keep in mind that in some cases I reveal plot points in order to explain ideas to you. So, just beware that there may be some “spoilers.”
You write fiction in many genres and nonfiction, too. Why not limit yourself to one or two types?
I think there’s a modern trend of agents and editors expecting authors to narrow their focus tremendously. This is largely due to marketing concerns and platform building. Basically, it’s easier to go back to the same fans every time and tell them an author has produced another book in the same genre as last time. But, as a writer I (and many other authors) find this too limiting. Like any artist, I go through periods and I grow. So, I let my work be an expression of where my head, heart, and soul are at. Of course, I have a voice and style that show up consistently in all my work. In fact, I find that readers who like my writing are excited to discover I’ve written something totally different!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and novelist?
When I was a kid one of my favorite games involved planning magazines and newspapers. I always enjoyed writing fiction, but it really took off in high school when I first read Light in August by William Faulkner. I knew then that I wanted to be a novelist when I grew up.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love reading, spending time with my husband and children, playing with our dogs, and baking. Writing is so sedentary by nature, so I make sure to get regular exercise. I also love technology, so I like working on web sites that I design.
When you write, do you keep a particular reader in mind?
I hope that my writing offers something to many people across the world, but I definitely try to write for a person with a strong sense of passion, adventure, and an interest in understanding nature and human nature. So, I probably keep my sister in mind most of all.
How often do you work on your writing projects?
I work on writing and editing every day, although sometimes I take a day off for family reasons. For me writing is like sleeping: If I don’t get enough of it, I feel like something’s not right. But, I’ve definitely learned to be more relaxed about it than I used to be. No more burning the midnight oil for me because that can get unhealthy.
How did you learn how to write about so many things—for instance, nature, architecture, the military, technology?
Even now I give myself regular writing exercises to improve my ability to describe things. When I was younger I made a real point of learning how to identify things like trees, flowers, building types, and many more. My goal has always been to learn it well in my free time, so I can easily put it to use when I’m writing. When I encounter a topic that I want to use in a novel, but that I know nothing about (for instance, the Navy parachute jumpers in my novel Come Find Me, I read as much as I can about it on the Internet and through books. The librarians at my local branch know me well!
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