Tell us about your book, please.
My debut novel, By Any Other Name, is a novel about a woman’s journey from religious closed-mindedness to a place of forgiveness and love. Set in a small town in the Rocky Mountains, my book explores the inevitable fall from grace that anyone trying to live a “salvation-by-works” life will encounter.
What appealed to you about writing faith-based fiction?
Honestly, I didn’t set out to write a faith based novel. I started with two characters and let their story unfold. Too often people are cruel to one another in the name of religion and I wanted to talk about that. I have begun a spiritual journey of my own, this book being the catalyst really. I knew that one of my minor characters used alternative spiritual practices such as meditation and yoga to express her devotion to God and from doing my “book research” I have adopted a more alternative approach to my own spirituality.
Writing is good for the soul. What’s the book’s opening line? Why did you start there?
“Most mountain towns in Colorado are small etchings in the mountainside.”
This is a very visual opening in which I set the scene and came in with a peaceful and almost routine environment before I place my characters or my plot inside of it. Why did I do this? I honestly am not sure. Maybe it is symbolic for how I have eased myself into this career as a writer? Would I change this if I could redo it? I don’t think so. But I can tell you my next novel begins quite differently.
Or we could typecast you as the mountain writer. It could be a whole branding thing. Anyway, what do you most enjoy about writing?
I love to explore my characters and get to know them through my stories. I feel that for every character in a book there are hundreds of people thinking “That’s me!” and I enjoy making their story known.
How’s National Novel Writing Month going for you so far?
So far so good! I am really excited about the novel I am working on. Even if I don’t reach that daily targeted word count, I can say that I am writing every single day this month.
Then you’re succeeding as a writer. Please share a writing tip you’ve found helpful.
Don’t write something simply because it is popular right now. Write something because it speaks to you. Write the novel you want to read.
So you mean I don’t have to write Fifty Shades of Grey? That’s a relief! Let’s pretend you’re casting your book as a movie or TV show. Who would you cast as the main characters?
Oh geeze…I always hate this question simply because I have no idea who any of the actors are minus a few that have stuck out to me over the years. I will say that my character, Raine, was partly inspired by Zo, played by Alice Krige, in Ten Inch Hero.
So you play the clarinet? What drew you to that particular instrument?
Honestly, I was in the fifth grade and planned to play the flute but wasn’t at school the day we had to pick instruments. My best friend at the time signed me up for clarinet and I didn’t even know what that was. Fifteen years later, I love it for its rich sound and variety within the ensemble. I also play steel drums, which I chose for myself as an adult. I chose the double guitar pans because it is the lowest pitched pans that I could fit in the back seat of my car and therefore transport. I love the culture that surrounds steel pan playing.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
Oh wow, that’s a tough one. I absolutely loved Torch by Cheryl Strayed. It is raw and emotional and very realistic about what a family goes through when a loved one suffers and dies from cancer.
Who is your favorite fictional character? (Any medium)
Right now it’s a tie between Amy Farah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory and Felicity Smoak from Arrow.
Yeah, isn’t Arrow great? If you could have one super-power, what would it be and why?
I would have a rewind and redo button because half of what I say out loud leads me to ask myself “Why did that make sense in my head?”
So you want to be the editor of your own life. Got it. What’s next for you?
I am very excited about my latest novel which I hope to have out no later than next summer. It is the story of five siblings who have drifted apart over the years, coming together to clean out their mother’s house and attend her funeral. In it I touch on some difficult topics such as homophobia, addiction, abandonment and of course reconciliation and family.
Where can people learn more about your work?
Tell us one fun fact about yourself.
I am very into yoga, meditation and ecstatic dancing and go to monthly conscious community events through a group called “Ecstatic Saturdays” where there are workshops, guided meditations, and, of course, ecstatic dancing.
That sounds…ecstatic. Thank you, TM!