Maggie, the narrator of Gray, decided to remain in her hometown and work in her family's jewelry shop after high school. What prompted you to tell her story? Do you have a close-knit family, and/or a jewelry designer in the family?
This story is in no way my own story, or like my family. This story comes from my own hopeless romantic imagination. I have absolutely no ties to jewelry design, and if anything, stand in awe of people who are incredibly artistic. I wish I could sing, I wish I could draw. I wish I could design. I find artistic ability pretty amazing, since I don't possess it in these forms. What prompted me to tell this story is the connections I have made with hundreds of young teens when I was a Junior High teacher a decade ago. This age is so open to anyone willing to share their life lessons, and if anything, I love their anticipation for their adult future. They desperately want to get there--be there. They desire to experience total independence and maturity. And yet, with all this anticipation for what life will be like for them, they tend to be pretty black and white thinkers, if you will. Life slowly reveals the gray areas, and that is where the real maturity seeps in.
Maggie befriends a man who is suffering from amnesia following a car accident. Are you as passionate about wild gray wolves as he is?
I am fascinated with the gray wolf controversy. Am I passionate about the wolves? No. I have my own little pack of people that I am passionate about, and they consume my every desire to do good in this world, for them. So the wolves are not a major passion. In Idaho, on any given morning when I read the local paper, there could be an update on the controversy, a letter to the editor ranting about the problem, a call to the people to protect them, or an update from Idaho Fish and Game detailing if they will be selling hunting tags or banning them. I find the gray wolf issue in our neck of the woods completely fascinating. Should a top predator have been introduced into the wild, and can it be managed effectively today?
How long did it take you to complete the first draft of Gray?
Tell us how you got the book published.
I published independently through Createspace (print) and through Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing (ebook). I had every intention of seeking a literary agent and traditional publisher. I had even written a query letter, and was polishing it when the whole idea of indie publishing was first introduced to me. I researched online a bit, and decided that I don't need to make a bajillion dollars. I just want to support my family. I want to be in control of my pace and deadlines, and I want to offer my book at as cheap of a price as possible. I want people, especially teens 14-19 to read my story, and at $2.99 they can do that on their phone! (My book is cheaper than a greeting card!) With a traditional publisher the cost to the public would be so much more expensive.
When can readers expect the sequel to Gray? Can you tell us the title and premise?
I am hoping to have it out in the fall, hopefully October. The working title is Silver, but I'm actually hoping a better title appears through my writing process. I can't tell you much of the premise, because it's my private rule not to jinx myself. (My husband doesn't even know a thing about my books until I hand him the first read. When it's done.) All I can tell you is it picks up right where Gray left off, as Maggie heads to college. And yes, Peter and Wyn are both in the sequel!
Do you have a writing routine, or do you simply write when the mood strikes you?
I am very routined. I guess I'm a bit like Maggie in that sense. Totally routined. I put the kids on the bus in the morning, clean the house for 30 minutes because I can't work with any mess in the house or any noise at all...not even the radio, then I write for 2-3 hours. Then my kindergartner comes home and I have to put the computer away. Next year all my kids will be in school. I am VERY excited about this!
When they are older, they may become your first proofreaders or editors! What moves you to write for teens?
It's what I know. I remember those feelings of wanting to grow up so badly, and I remember my first love, and then I remember when I fell for two really nice guys at the same time in college, and how I actually had a choice in the matter, and it was tortorous for me to hurt anybody because I'd never had power like that before. I think growing up is an incredible experience, of coming into your own, and figuring out who you really are. It's the beginning of a life journey that evolves until the end. And the biggest reason that I write for teens is that teens are responsive. Us adults...we get stuck in our ways.
Why do you think it's easy for some teenagers to adjust to an independent life as an adult, and difficult for others?
Everyone's life experience is different. Some teens have been given free reign since they were small children, and some have been coddled until the day they left home. Some teens have had limitless resources and some have had to work for every single need and want. Some teens have never worked a day in their life, and some have been cutting grass since age 8. Some have a world of emotional support and some have been kicked to the curb again and again. It's hard to say why some adjust and some don't, but I suspect that these are underlying reasons.
Was it an easy or difficult adjustment for you?
I left home and lived on a college campus right away, just weeks after my 18th birthday. I was young, and I remember feeling young. College is a natural micro-culture, so it was a safe place to grow up. But it was hard in that my parents got divorced my second year of college and it seemed that my family was no longer my home. I didn't know what home was, anymore, and I had to figure out that home wasn't my original family. That was very, very hard.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Of course I love coming-of-age fiction, because that's what I write. I love realistic fiction, and books that get to my heart and soul.
What are your ten all-time favorite books?
1. Gone with the Wind (OMG... the last line kills me!)
2. The Great Gatsby (didn't get it until my 30's...totally hit me at age 35!)
3. Sophie's Choice (the moment she makes her choice! uugh!)
4. The Good Earth
5. Jane Eyre
6. The Outsiders
7. I Know this Much is True
8. Where the Red Fern Grows (I cannot NOT cry reading the ending!)
9. Goodbye Mr. Chips (I hope I'm thought of this way at the end of my life!)
10. On Writing (Steven King validated my writing life.)
Check out today's Summer Blog Blast Tour schedule:
Tuesday, July 12th
Sean Beaudoin at Chasing Ray
Neesha Meminger at The Happy Nappy Bookseller
Rachel Karns at Bildungsroman
If you love writing, reading, and reading interviews with writers, make sure to follow the SBBT all week long. Click here for the full schedule.