HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I saw a viral video of a hospital in South America where a balloon was floating around the children's ward - with purpose. The medical staff appeared to be frightened of this balloon. It might have been a hoax video, but it's where I drew inspiration for some of the creepy aspects of the story.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
This might seem odd or peculiar, but here it goes: I dropped to my knees next to my pit bull; blood seeped from a gaping wound in his abdomen as he labored for his next breath.
This is the opening line of the book. My daughter (28 at the time) didn't answer my text messages for a period of three days. I had already planned to have my protagonist find her murdered dog as the opening scene of my new book. After my daughter avoided me for that period of time, I chose the breed and name of the dog - which was maybe not coincidentally the same as her beloved Hugo. We laugh about it now. My word of warning to those with an author in the family - stay on their good side at all times.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I would say the mother of the protagonist. In the story, the family is taken from their lives of wealth, prosperity, and familiarity to a gloomy town, living in a haunted house. I had to move during my 9th grade year to an unforgiving location because my father was in the military. For the inspiration, I coupled my experience as a mother of a teenager with what I had endured as a teen having to uproot my life into a less fortunate situation.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD- WINNING BOOK?
No matter what challenges you will face in life, you can overcome anything. Never give up, conquer all.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
My father was a surgeon. As a hobby, he wrote poetry and dabbled in novel writing, as well. In my early days of writing ('90s), he gave me strong inspiration and guidance. Now, I am currently working on my eleventh novel. I am a physiologist as a first career and used to engage in scientific research while teaching biochemistry and other science courses at The University of North Texas. However, my hobby took over my life, and I am blessed.
WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE? - PLEASE ELABORATE:
I am a huge fan of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling. I not only read all of the Harry Potter series, but when I wrote my first books, I can remember studying how she wrote, her style, and format.
TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I am also a murder mystery game writer. If you cross me in any way - you'll be a suspect in one of my games. A writer must write what they know, right? I need to get out there and make some new enemies, though. I'm running out of material!
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS:
I start with a spiral where I have a page for each chapter. I carry the book around, and as I think of things, I add them to my growing plot lines. When I'm ready, I switch to note cards for each chapter, since I can easily add a card in if I decide to split a chapter. Then, I move to the electronic outline with bullet points. This process can take up to six months, but it works for me.
Using the Word document, I start to write the chapters based on the bullet points, ensuring I get all points made. This part only takes me 30 days from start to finish - as I work many hours a day, seven days per week. Once I start this, I have to work on it every day to keep the flow going. When I hate the story (meaning I'm done), I leave it for at least a week. Vacation time! Then, it's back to the grind where the real writing begins. I painstakingly re-write, edit, and slash extra verbiage for about three months. I'm wordy, as you can see. I try to ensure every sentence moves the plot forward. After at least five revisions from start to finish - it's off to the editor. Two months later, I get their notes. I edit from start to finish at least twice. At this point, if I have a willing beta reader, I'll ask them to read. Then, it goes for a line-by-line, and then a proofread. *Sigh*
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?
Finding the time to write. My murder mystery game company (MyMysteryParty.com) is doing great, which means there is less time for me to write novels. My mentor as a PhD student once told me that life is about many plates spinning on poles. The plates are family, career, hobbies, and so forth. You must not let any of the plates stop spinning, so it is a balance to jump from pole to pole and spin those plates.
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
I don't deserve this in the least, but I aspire to be the YA version of Stephen King. We all need goals.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Social media is your best bet. Grow an audience, engage with them, and do free giveaways and promotions on occasion to keep them on their toes.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Being recognized by organizations such as Literary Classics for my work is my greatest literary accomplishment. I feel honored and proud each time I win an award, as it gives me the confidence to press on with my next book.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
I aspire to have my books on shelves at the airport and grocery store lines. It's nearly impossible to get to that level, but you must have goals.
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I was once on four seasons of a reality television show (2011-2013), but I don't like to talk about it ;-)
WHAT (IF ANY) OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Dregs Island, which I wrote with my son, Zakk Myer (a student at UT) Dregs Island
The Fiona Frost series:
Blood Dolls (Volume 5)
Shillingstone Witch (Volume 4)
Fatal Souvenirs (Volume 3)
Order of the Black Moon (Volume 2)
Foster Manor (Volume 1)
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I have a new YA series in the works. It was inspired by my mystery party game, Murder Behind the Mirror. I am beyond excited about this, as it is a bit out of the box for me with other worlds and magical powers - all explained by science, of course. I am targeting summer of 2019 as the release date of volume 1.
LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org