Would you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a wife, mother of two and live in South Carolina. I spend most of my time taking care of my family and writing. BUT, when I take a day off, I love to snuggle up with a good book, hang out with the girlfriends and drink Strawberry Smoothies from Panera Bread.
How did you come up with the concept for When the Smoke Clears?
I wanted an occupation for a woman that was mostly a man’s world. I saw a movie about smokejumpers and thought that would be perfect for Alexia (the heroine in the story.) However, when someone messes with her equipment, she’s suspended from her job and decides to go home to mend her past and attend her high school reunion. Only trouble keeps following her and she finds herself in a fight for her life. I just kept asking myself “what if” questions and then answering them. Then asking some more.
Have you ever been involved in smoke jumping?
No way. I’m too chicken to actually do something that dangerous.
Have you lived near or visited the Cascades?
Nope, but after all the research I did, I felt like I’d been there.
Where do your inspirations for a story come from?
I see story ideas everywhere. Television, movies, newspaper headlines, a random comment from a friend. All of those can spark an idea.
Do you have a favorite character in When the Smoke Clears? Why?
I like the hero, Hunter Graham. Mostly because he seems to have a lot of patience and he’s loyal to those he loves. He puts up with his troublesome brother a lot longer than I would have.
How much research did When the Smoke Clears take?
A lot at first. I had to research the equipment and gear that a smokejumper uses and I had to figure out how to sabotage it. THAT was hard! There are so many safety features on firefighter and smoke jumping gear that I thought it was going to be impossible to use that in the story. Then I talked with a firefighter and he told me one possible scenario. He said it would be stretching it, but it MIGHT work. So, I used it.
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing When the Smoke Clears?
That smokejumpers and firefighters are completely different professions. You can be a smokejumper without being a firefighter and vice versa. But most smokejumpers are former firefighters. The training is very different for each profession, too.