Frequently asked questions

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

The short answer is no. In my high school days, I had a phobia about writing that made me a terrible procrastinator. Teachers said things like, “Great research, well written paper. Twenty typos on page one.” I’m not sure what I was so afraid of because deep down I loved stories. Every night I went to bed excited to snuggled up in the dark and THINK. That’s the way the word looked in my head, THINK. Years later I discovered that the stories running in my head had a name, fan fiction. And I wasn’t the only person indulging in this guilty pleasure. I wrote my first novel in the world of the CW TV show Supernatural. It took me a couple of years to finish – I had learned my lesson about revision and proofreading. I published it a chapter at a time on I won an award! I had hundreds of followers all over the world. Fans! What a rush! I was hooked. That piece was the only fanfiction I ever wrote. I knew I wanted to create my own original stories. I set out to learn how to write.

How did you learn to write?

I’m still learning! I was a theater major in college. My love of diving into characters and living out their stories happened on stage. Unfortunately, I had a deep terror of auditioning. I tried acting in Chicago for a couple of years, but finally gave up and moved back to Kansas City. When I discovered that having people read my stories was as exciting as being on stage, I started attending professional workshops. My first critique was encouraging. When I asked if I should enroll in a college creative writing program to keep learning, they said I certainly could, but advised me to write more, read more, and join a critique group. They directed me to SCBWI. The rest is history. That was about fifteen years ago. About that time, I stumbled into my fabulous critique group. This talented, generous group of writers gently and persistently showed me how to up my game. I wouldn’t be here without them.

Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere! When I read a book or watch a movie that thrills me to my core, I ask myself why? Why do I love this story or this character so much? What is it exactly that’s making my heart go pitter pat? Once I figure out the essence of that situation or character, I try to put that essence in my WIP. If it won’t fit in what I’m working on, I sketch out a page or two of a story idea and file it away. I’m big on inspirational field trips too. Parks, zoos, libraries, coffee shops, cemeteries. I take a notebook and sit, or stalk people, and write whatever comes to mind. Cemeteries are my favorite places to find inspiration. If you’re ever stuck on a character’s name, wander through a cemetery.

Have you always loved cemeteries?

Since I was in my twenties, I think. I don’t remember an aha moment when I suddenly fell in love with them. I did summer theater in Creede, Colorado. The company photographer and resident artist, John Gary Brown, had just published a book called The Soul in the Stone. Meeting him was the first time I realized I wasn’t strange for loving to wander through graveyards. Well, not very strange. I’m not a genealogist, or a historian. I don’t seek out famous people’s graves.

Cemeteries are like art museums or parks to me. There’s something grounding and peaceful about them.

Why do you write for young adults?

It was an accident. I wrote my first original novel when my sons were teenagers. My life at the time was filled with all things-teenaged boy, so my muse had a lot of fodder. I think I stuck with it because there’s something so vital and exciting about a teenager’s perspective on life. I worked for years in a public library and taught writing workshops for teens. They’re the most fearless writers I know. And have you noticed how few books in the Young Adult section are written from a boy’s point of view? It was at the library that I realized how heavily the YA shelves are weighted toward characters who identify as girls. Somehow as the YA book market exploded over the last couple of decades, publishers decided that teenaged boys don’t read. I knew from first hand experience that that was absolutely untrue.

Are Will and Seth based on your sons?

No, not in any direct way. Will and Seth are constructed from pieces of me, my boys, their friends and a bunch of my favorite fictional heroes.

Who are your favorite authors?

Oh, there are so many. Jim Butcher, Rob Thurman and Rick Riordan were favorites during my early writing days. Lately I’ve loved reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry, and Ballad and Dagger by Daniel Jose Older. I LOVE audiobooks! Right now, I’m listening to The Diviners, by Libba Bray – dark and twisty fun. The wonderful adult book club I led at the library would read anything except science fiction, fantasy or horror, my go to’s. They expanded my reading horizons. I would have missed out on a lot of great books without them.

More questions? Contact me.