Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
Though I spent years working for libraries, studying the relationship between gender, archaeology, and imperialism in Germany, and playing with wolf puppies, I’ve finally found a professional home with a small publisher where I do marketing and data analysis. Though I never imagined I would end up exploring numbers and data, I adore my job. I’m also grateful that it leaves me with enough free time to write.
Where the desire to write came from is a good question. I have always told stories. Stories that helped me make sense of the world. Stories that helped me make sense of myself. In that way, I couldn’t escape from writing. It wasn’t a conscious decision I ever made. I was never ‘inspired’. I simply had stories that needed a place to go.
Tell us about your books.
My debut novel, “When We Go Missing” is a fast-paced psychological thriller.
It follows the story of Alex Gardinier, a woman who was once a successful physical therapist and happy wife. Now, however, she is trapped in a crumbling hospital. Several years ago Alex’s ex-husband, Nathan, was convicted of murdering five girls, and he has been rotting in prison ever since. Except the doctors say that Nathan isn’t in prison. In fact, they don’t believe that he is a criminal at all. According to them, Nathan is a devoted husband who visits her every week. But Alex can’t recall ever seeing him at the hospital, and they last time they met he was holding her hostage on a boat.
Maybe the doctors are right – maybe these memories of his crimes are her own personal delusions – but if they are wrong, then Nathan somehow escaped from prison. If they are wrong, he has trapped Alex in a psychiatric ward.
If they are wrong, he is hunting her sister.
Writing this book allowed me to really engage with the ways that people, especially women, do go missing in America and the way that society deals with those disappearances. It was a fascinating and horrifying realm to discover.
This book was also something of an experiment for me. I began this “Novel Experiment” as I called it on my blog in July of 2016 with the ridiculous goal of publishing it in December of 2016. I finished the rough draft in September and then spent October and November editing it. Though I don’t suggest anyone else use my schedule – I would have liked to spend more time on revisions for example – having a quick deadline meant that I had to get the book written and published. That was a great decision for me because if given free reign, I will edit a work to death and never complete it. I am extraordinarily excited that I was able to get past my perfectionist tendencies and complete the novel.
How did you go about getting published?
Though I work in traditional publishing, I decided to self-publish my first book. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that I could write, and publish, and have nothing to fear. Traditional publishing would have extended the timeline of that proving ground just a little too long.
Self-publishing has certainly been a learning though, and it has taken a lot of dedication to be a one woman writing, formatting, and marketing show.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
My writing style isn’t so much a process as it is a casserole. I just do whatever works with my schedule and hope that it adds up to a reasonable result. When I have time, I write on my lunch break, and I also tend to write when I get off work.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
When I’m not writing, I’m either outside, listening to music, or at work. (Sometimes I even manage to do more than one of those things at a time.) I live within fairly easy driving distance of both the mountains and the beach, and I take advantage of both when I can. I’m also a music fiend. I won’t give up my old IPOD just because it has so much more room for music than my newer devices do. I listen to everything from Rachmaninoff to Nina Simone to NIN to 80’s pop music, and lately I have been playing Titus Jones’s song mash-ups over and over again. Don’t tell, but I think that his work from a few years ago is better than his more recent releases.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
In terms of book covers, it is vital that you find someone who knows what he or she is doing. For self-publishers especially, it can be tempting to use the default templates and cover creators, but those defaults are so restrictive. I also shy away from using freely provided images because the idea of my book sharing a cover with another novel horrifies me. Image repetition can be confusing for readers as well.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
Marketing is a complex little monster. It requires that an author constantly engage without being obnoxious, which is a difficult balance to find. Interacting with readers outside of strict promotional efforts is important and so is finding the right tone. I also encourage authors to look for various promotion lists. (Read Write Club is a great example of one of these!)
What’s your favorite book?
“The Ruins of Ambrai” by Melanie Rawn
What are you reading now?
“The Mountains of Parnassus” by Czeslaw Milosz
What’s your next book project?
My next book project is still in the nascent stages, but it will take me back to the realm of fantasy. It draws from Norse mythology and explores what happens at the end of an era. The project is still very much in flux, so keep an eye out for updates on it!
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