THE WRITING PART
Q. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Briefly, about yourself?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed by you. So, a little about me…I’m an Ohio native who loves to garden and read and bake really delicious pies.
Q. What genre is/are your book(s)?
Q. What draws you to this genre?
I just write what’s in my head, and it happens to be what is categorized as literary fiction. What is beautiful about this genre is the opportunity to really get deep down into a character’s soul.
Q. Briefly, what led up to last/latest book?
Also, Please describe what the story/book is about in one sentence. In one sentence I’d say: “The devil comes to town.”
Q. What was the time frame for writing your last book?
I wrote The Summer that Melted Everything in one month during the summer I was twenty-eight.
Q. How much research do you do?
It varies from novel to novel. With The Summer that Melted Everything I had to research the 1980s. How people dressed and how they were as a collective culture of that decade. It wasn’t too much research involved with this novel. But my most recent novel had much more research because it takes place during the Second World War, so I had to research the major events of the war, the Holocaust, and make sure I got the timeline concrete to the truth.
Q. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I do not. I don’t have a schedule or work by an outline. I just sit in front of my laptop and type what’s in my head that day. Sometimes I can get a chapter done in a day, other times it takes a few weeks just to work on one chapter. It rises and falls with the hills.
Q. What motivates you to write?
I’d say the characters themselves. To me the characters are real people, and I’m just the vessel they’re passing through to get their story heard.
Q. When did you decide that you want to be a writer?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid. I’d hold the crayon in my hand and feel that urge to just write down what was in my head. To an adult, it was scribbles on the page, but to me it was the story from my head. I’d make handmade books from notebook paper, with cardboard flaps for the front and back cover and tie it all together with yarn from my mother’s crochet box. I never decided to be a writer. I’ve just always loved story. Reading it and creating it.
THE WORKING REGIME
Q. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Good reviews encourage you. Bad reviews can certainly depress you. But you can also learn from the bad reviews. Always listen to what the reader is saying and respect their review, whether it’s good or bad.
Q. What do you prefer: Pen or Computer? And how do you stay organised (any methods, systems, tools you use)?
I never outline or write down beforehand, so I type the story direct to my laptop. However, how I stay organized is just writing it down on a piece of paper, whether it be a ‘to do list’ or a date I need to remember. I’m pretty old school in the way I prefer an actual calendar over an electronic one.
Q. How do you relax?
Watch one of my favorite movies like Beetlejuice or Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Or read an Agatha Christie novel.
Q. What were your few biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
Biggest learning experience I’d say is how long it takes to get published. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I was so ignorant to the publishing process that I thought my entire future would be decided in a week. But I didn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything, which was my fifth or sixth novel written, but only my second novel submitted to editors. So it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published. I wish I would have known at eighteen years old just starting out how hard it is to get a foot in the publishing door, especially if you write literary fiction like I do. It’s not the easiest genre to get publishers to take a chance on.
Q. What’s next? What are you working on at the moment?
I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with my novel When Lions Stood as Men. It’s a story that revolves about a Jewish brother and sister escaping Nazi Germany. They end up in Ohio of all places and realize lions have stood as men, and life is all about surviving that which threatens to tear us down.
THE READING PART
Q. Do you re-read books? One book that you would read again & again?
I rarely re-read a book simply because there are so many books to read for the first-time. But when I do re-read, it’s some of my favorite novels like Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Q. Your influence(s)/ favourite author(s)?
Some of my favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Donna Tartt, Toni Morrison, and poet James Wright.
Q. What book(s) are you reading at present?
I’m currently reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
Q. Best piece(s) of writing advice we haven’t discussed?
The journey to publication is full of heartbreak and disappointment and at times you just want to quit because you never feel good enough. So best piece of advice is to never give up. Never ever.