HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? From growing up in the South! I grew up in Memphis, and wanted to write about that particular side of the South that I rarely see written of, which is to name the manicured, genteel side of the South with its nuances and social mores that are now a bit out of fashion, as Memphis has grown and the times have changed. I also wanted to write about the binds that tie between siblings and how they impact the rest of our lives.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? "If one knew with certainty that life's defining moments came wrapped in a bow in the arms of good fortune, one would fundamentally trust the life process and go skipping out to greet each day in the blind faith that no matter what, all things work together for good." I like this line because it is the first in a paragraph that muses upon the ambiguity of life, in all its variations.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? Millie Crossan, who is the narrator of Mourning Dove. She is in awe of her charismatic brother, Finley. I grew up in awe of my brother, Haines.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? The message is a big one. Mourning Dove's themes are a search for place, a search for identity, and a search for God. Its message concerns the question of who is in charge in the shaping of a life.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I never aspired to being a writer, I simply got in touch with the fact that I am one!
WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE? - PLEASE ELABORATE: I love the work of the author Pat Conroy, whom I had the pleasure of meeting. Conroy's gift for lyrical, descriptive prose inspires me because it is language at its loftiest. I think language is important.
TELL US SOMETHING RANDOM/INTERESTING/FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: I saw the actor Sam Elliott at a party and just so happened to have Mourning Dove with me. When I gave it to him, he gave me a kiss!
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: I write on Microsoft Word and when I'm involved in the writing of a book, I write every day as much as I can. I keep this pace until the book is finished, then I show the manuscript to my agent, Julie Gwinn, of the Seymour Literary Agency.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER? I don't feel challenged by anything having to do with writing. I write in scenes, and the only thing I can report is that I sometimes take my time pondering what the next scene should be.
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? Pat Conroy, because of his use of language.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT? Firefly Southern Fiction brought me to the attention of my agent, Julie Gwinn. It was a backwards process, because I mistakenly submitted without an agent. Eva Marie Everson, Firefly's acquisition editor, liked my book so much, she brought me to the attention of Julie Gwinn. Julie read the first three chapters of Mourning Dove and offered me representation. She was instrumental in getting my following book signed.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? I think doing as much in person as you possibly can goes a long way. Bookstore events, book festivals, literary conferences, and always enter contests. Everyone knows how to work social media, so this is a given. But meeting readers face-to-face goes a long way.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? The four awards Mourning Dove has won. I'm very proud of the Words on Wings Award by Literary Classics, as it is one of them!
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To continue to live the life I am living now and hoping my career will grow as I reach more readers.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU PEOPLE MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I am a ballet teacher. I taught a ballet/Pilates mat class in Malibu for ages and a few celebrities came regularly. I also had a nine year career in music radio.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Yes. I narrated the audiobook of Mourning Dove and loved every minute of it. I have a Memphis accent, and since Mourning Dove is set in Memphis, it was a perfect fit! If you want to hear a real, old-world Delta accent, listen to Mourning Dove's audiobook. Also, because I have to mention them: I have two German shepherds-- one male, one female, who run the show of our Malibu home!
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org