Here are some of the common questions I get asked...
What do you like to read?
I enjoy reading books that transport me to another world, are deeply moving or just highly entertaining!
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite book as a child was How to Eat Fried Worms. I really read anything and read often. As a teenager my mother introduced me to Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney and the Gothic romance. I devoured those books. Marion Zimmer Bradley influenced my love of fantasy and storytelling from a female point of view. My other favorites are Robert Jordan, Stephen Lawhead, Jack Whyte, and Bernard Cornwell. Their dedication to their work, the detailed research and their creativity amaze me. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips because she lets humor into some very crazy situations. Her characters are real, hilarious and I find her books fun and relaxing. There are some great books that have transformed me and inspire me to try to do the same. I listened to Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain a couple years after I lost my son, Nick. “What you manifest is before you,” really resonated with me in that I was trying to recreate my life without my first son. Plus it dealt with grief and I could connect to having a dog help me get through, since two months after Nick’s death we adopted Zoey who was my grief pal. Garth’s writing is so poetic and it moved me.
What else do you like to do besides write?
Of course I read a lot. I walk my dogs every day, bike riding, motorcycle riding, martial arts, journaling, and scrapbooking. I go to my son, Stephen’s, soccer games. He plays for his high school and on a travel team so he plays basically all-year round. I enjoy visiting with my very large family and friends, going to plays, and seeing movies.
What’s your favorite movie?
There are a lot of movies that I have watched more than once like The Princess Bride, A Knight’s Tale, any superhero movie (especially Iron Man!), Men in Tights, 16 Candles, and Johnny Dangerously. But my all time favorite is Dirty Dancing, because it reminds me of the resorts I use to work at in the Catskills where I grew up. Plus, I love all the dancing.
Where did you grow up?
I lived in Long Island until I was seven. Then we moved to a small town in upstate, NY called Greenville. It was a very big change for us, but a good one since I was often bullied where I lived. I consider myself a country girl and was a big tree climber. We had tall pines where I could climb higher than the houses. I stared in wonder at the world around me. I could often be found sitting in one of my favorite trees reading.
What do you like most about writing?
I like seeing where the words and the characters take me. I very rarely plan what I’m going to write. If a topic interests me I’ll do some research or I’ll free write until a concrete idea forms. I enjoy the chaos and unpredictability of writing and how much words affect me. I often have very strong emotional responses to what I write, because I write about what bothers or moves me.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by the characters, thoughts and stories that pop into my head at any point in the day or night. The possibility that words can positively affect another, entertain them or heal them keeps me writing. The healing power of words and the connection that I feel to my children when I journal to them inspires me to continually write down what happens in my life and theirs. The need to know our history and what makes us who we are keeps me writing.
What is the hardest part of writing a novel?
Getting started and keeping the momentum. Getting the character’s personalities developed well enough so that I know how they will react in any situation. It takes times and patience. The entire process takes patience and the passion not to quit.
What role do dreams play in your writing and how do they inspire your work?
Much of my writing comes from my dreams. I’ll spend a morning writing a short story that I dreamt about the night before. It begs to be written out. While writing Warriors Within, I dreamt of rock warriors in the Cave of the Warrior during Maecha and Kelan’s quest. I also dreamt about Natalie Fischer and her connection to Michaela’s father. Dreams allow my creativity to flow without the interruptions of daily life. I always write down as much details as I can. I write about dreaming and my characters usually use dreams in their lives. Dreaming plays a major role in the Fianna Cycle trilogy. It’s a form of communication and time travel. Dreaming is my lifeline to my son, Nick. I dream of him often and love his visits.
When you think about your readers, what do you hope they receive from reading your novels/books?
I want my readers to be entertained, to have hope, and to get into my book as much as I did when writing them. To be moved or changed or inspired to bring about change is what inspires me, especially in What Makes Them Amazing. My goal was to share these incredible stories and inspire others to keep trying, to give, and to feel emotions that are often pushed aside. It hurts to read about children suffering from cancer, but there is beauty and joy in their journeys. I want readers to feel the different levels of reading—entertainment, enlightenment, and healing. This sometimes happens all at once or when the reader is ready to receive the message.
Hope. I want my readers to know that when you think life just can’t get any worse or your emotions are so strung out you can’t possibly move another step, there is always hope. I’d like them to be able to connect to my characters and feel enriched by my words. Or at least be entertained. I love when I can’t put a book down and I am completely swept away by the story. I strive to be that kind of writer, but I’m still learning.
What drew you to write about ancient Celtic warriors?
I have always loved medieval literature and the stories of courtly love and King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. However, it bothered me that women basically didn’t have rights and were not treated very well. As it happens I met one of my best friends, Kathy Lange-Madden, in a medieval literature class. During the last semester of graduate school, I realized that I was three credits short to graduate. I could do an independent study and Kathy suggested women in Celtic literature. I had never really read this time period and I focused on third century Celtic Ireland. I fell in love with it. Celtic Ireland was led by a matriarchal society so women were considered equal to men and ruled side by side. I was enamored by the stories of fairy folk and the Otherworld and all the quests and challenges that warriors went through. I wrote my paper on Feminism in Celtic Literature. Even though women were considered strong and equals, they still couldn’t rule in the all-male band of warriors called the Fianna, so of course I had to change that.
I write about strong female characters, but also how men and women can work together in a positive and effective manner. They can respect each other and not feel threatened by their success.
What did you like best about writing your collections of interviews, What Makes Them Amazing?
I liked that I was immortalizing very important and incredibly powerful stories and that these young adults and their families trusted me enough to let me into their lives. The hardest part was the emotional aspect and not breaking down during an interview, because I could so closely relate.
How did you become interested in martial arts? How do you incorporate this into your writing?
I have always loved martial arts as does my family. We watched Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris with my dad. We are a physical family in that my dad took Judo and I dabbled in a couple forms but didn’t really stick with it until Kenpo karate. You could always find a wrestling match happening in our house. Still do! I love the physical and mental challenge of karate. I wrote about martial arts because I wanted action in my novels and Michaela is the strong, but feminine type who uses karate to help others.
Did your interest in martial arts lead to your interest in the literature and history of ancient times?
My love of mythology and literature led me to reading about medieval battles and ancient forms of fighting. Sword fighting has always interested me and the sense of honor that knights live by. I took some fencing lessons while I was writing Warriors Within and that was loads of fun, but also gave me a sense of realism. My father reminded me of a knight. He was always true to his word and looked out for others.
You have two sisters, one younger and one older. How does your relationship with your sisters affect your writing?
Michaela and Shannon’s relationship reminds me of connection with my sisters. That sense of looking out for one another and knowing when something is wrong. That strong connection between women is very prevalent in my books. Family comes first, but family isn’t always defined by blood. I have very strong female friendships, too. By the way I have an older brother and he is connected to his sisters with his sense of humor. We all get along really well and always have each others’ backs.
What genre do you enjoy as a reader?
I love fantasy, but also like romantic suspense or thrillers. I don’t like hard core police stories or horror. I prefer books with fun interactions between male and females. I like to read Sandra Brown, Karen Robards and Catherine Coulter. I do love reading Nora Roberts, because how well her characters interact and I know what to expect.
Are there any authors or genres that have influenced your writing?
Marion Zimmer Bradley highly influenced my writing. I realized that I could rewrite works of literature or take a story and spin it so that modern readers could connect. I found Diana Gabaldon after I wrote Warriors Within and the longevity of her books give me hope that people love time travel mixed with a love story and action.
How does journaling work for you with regard to your writing?
I journal write every day. It’s more on what is happening during my day or in my son’s life so that he will have a family history when he gets older. I want him to know that he did the same things when his own children act up! We lose so many stories because we aren’t a storytelling culture. I write out my blogs first because the act of writing helps me formulate my thoughts. I write it all down then simplify. Sometimes that leads to other pieces of writing.
What new writing are you contemplating these days?
I’m finishing a middle reader book that I started in 2007 called The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs. It’s a time-travel quest through a puzzle and the characters are based on my two sons and two of their best friends.