How long did Intervention take you to complete?
I have nine months to work on each book, and I always use every minute of that time.
Do you have a favorite character in Intervention? Why?
That’s a hard question. I feel very close to Barbara, the mother. But I think Lance, the fourteen-year-old son, is one of my favorite characters. He’s this funny kid who’s had to grow up a little because of his sister, and he provides comic relief as he helps his mother search for Emily. I liked him so much that I sort of centered Book 2, Vicious Cycle, around him.
How much research did Intervention take?
Even though I was able to use a lot of the research I’d already done, trying to help my daughter, I still had to do a lot, because different scenes in my story required specific things that I wasn’t sure about. I do a lot of research on every book, so again, that was pretty much the way I approach every book.
What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Intervention?
I learned how many bad rehabs there are out there, and how they prey on families who are desperate to help their loved ones. Most families feel that they have to make an immediate decision about where to send their addict, but they have no information about what the good places are. They trust their internet searches, which have a lot more to do with marketing than they do with really trying to help addicts. I hope I was able to illuminate that problem. I put up a page on my web site called “Hope for Families of Addicts,” which gives tips on finding the right rehab, etc. I hope people have been helped by the book and that page, as well as the resources I’ve recommended there to help families.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
I feel pressure to make each book better than the one before it, and that can be daunting sometimes. The part I hate the most is the first draft. I have to force myself to write that draft as fast as I can, just to get the story down. After that, in second, third, tenth, fifteenth drafts, I get more creative. The last draft usually bears little resemblance to the first one.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I love having several hours a day of silence, and just living in my head with these imaginary people. I also like keeping my own hours and being my own boss. It would be tough for me to work for someone else again after all these years.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
I’m an outliner, but I’m pretty flexible with it. I usually outline as much as I can up front, and then I’ll do a very detailed outline of about a hundred pages at a time. But very often I veer off of that plan. With each draft I make plot changes, and I don’t feel beholden to that outline at all.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
After the first draft they do. I feel like I know them then, and in the second draft I can really flesh them out and make them more interesting.