From all the
books you have written, do you have a favorite?
At what point in time did you realize that
writing was "the thing for you"?
When I was
27 years old and took my first creative writing class at a local
What advice would you give to someone interested in
becoming a writer?
widely. Read continually. Study your craft. Expect to be rejected.
Buy books. Support the industry you want to join.
What other authors do you enjoy
Lee Smith, Bobbie Ann
Mason, James Lee Burke, Philip Yancey, Fannie Flagg, Jo-Ann Mapson,
Lorna Landvik, C.S. Lewis, Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Wallace
Stegner, John Steinbeck, Jessamyn West, Willa Cather
normally do a lot of research when writing a
I probably spend about 20
30% of my time in research, reading and actually going out on "field
trips." It's one of the really fun parts of my job, the interesting
places it has taken me, the lives I am able to catch a glimpse of
"close up." It's like living other people's lives for just a little
other types of jobs have you had?
I really led a boring life before I became a writer. I've
worked at a variety of clerical jobs, mail clerk, sold furniture,
housekeeper, library clerk (which included doing storyhour for
kids). None of my jobs were particularly interesting which is
probably why I've always had a good imagination.
Do you attend conventions and
I now make about 75
personal appearances a year between the booktour paid for by my
publisher, booksignings I set up, conventions, quilt shows and
library talks. In the last 10 years I've had some years where I've
done as many as 100-125. I'm trying to cut back a little now because
between writing the books and promoting, I'm working 7 days a week.
Is there anyone, in particular, who influenced
My friend, Ann Lee,
whom I met in my first writing class was a big influence on me as a
writer. She just recently passed away. I was 27 and she was 57 when
we met. She was one of the purest, truest writers I've ever known. A
real writer. She wrote because she loved to. She was a widely
published poet who went through dry periods of being unpublished,
but she never stopped writing. Her dedication was incredible and a
real inspiration to me. She was the first person to see me as a
writer. I miss her every day.
What led you to write
I wrote short stories
aimed toward literary magazines for 10 years. None were ever
published. It's a very closed, inward world, the literary writing
world. So much depends not only on your talent, but also what school
you went to, who you know. So when I decided to write a novel, I
realized that the literary world was not likely to care about me so
since I'd always read mysteries, that seemed a logical place to go.
Do you read
reviews of your books?
Yes, but they don't affect
me. The good ones are nice, of course, and you always like hearing
nice things said about your work, especially if the reviewer really
"gets" what you are trying to accomplish. Bad ones are usually
written by some bitter person who, for some unknown reason to the
writer, has an ax to grind. I was told by one editor to keep in mind
with reviews how political they are. Often the reviewer is a
frustrated writer themselves and is just taking our their anger on
you. The first bad review made me cry, then I said I'd never let one
do that to me again. And I haven't.
How would you
like to be remembered?
someone with integrity. An honest person. A kind person. As someone
who was grateful.
What do you believe is the
highlight of your writing career so far?
The day I heard Fool's Puzzle, my first book, was going to be
published. I don't think any moment will ever thrill me like that
write on a fixed schedule or do you wait until thoughts come to
Yes, 5 days a week--9:00
am to about 2:00-3:00 pm. When I'm close to deadline I often work 7
days a week. I sometimes get up at night and write if some scene is
particularly begging to be written.
How did you get started in
Took an evening
course in beginning creative writing at my local community college
when I was 27. Never attempted or thought about writing before then
but I always told stories to myself in my head. I thought everyone
How do you come up with plots?
My imagination, personal experience, newspapers, magazine
articles, other people's stories.
Did you take any classes on how to
A total of 10 or 11
evening classes in creative writing at about 5 different community
colleges. No college other than that.
ever get writer's block?
Yes, but I don't like to call it that. I call it thinking
over a difficult problem while I'm watching bad television and
eating Hershey bars. I've learned that, with patience, the problem
in the writing usually resolves itself. It's like looking too hard
for something you've lost...once you forget about it, you find it.
What are your hobbies and
I like TV, it's relaxing.
And I can do other things while it's on. I love studying maps.
Travel and the planning of a trip is a lot of fun. I think I almost
enjoy the planning as much as the trip. I love to read, of course. I
still read 2-3 fiction books a week. It used to be more but writing
cuts into my reading time! I ride horses when I can. I like going to
the mall to people watch and eavesdrop. A writer never, ever stops
How do you spend your free
I spend it with my husband
of 29 years. And my friends and family. I love getting together with
my girlfriends for 'craft nights.' I just got into scrapbooking and
find it a lot of fun...and a good place to spend money!
Do you have
a message you would like to give to all the readers out
Buy a book a week.
That's all we ask.