What were your favorite books as a child?
I loved Curious George, all the P. D. Eastman books, and Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Nancy Drew. When I was a little older, I adored classics like Island of the Blue Dolphins and A Little Princess.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
I like to say that I outline by the seat of my pants. I outline the basic story and I spend a lot of time creating biographical sketches of my characters. I have a fairly good idea of the main plot pivots when I start but I don’t always know how I will get to those points. That happens as I write. The path is always revealed a little more each day.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Without fail. They always become someone more dynamic than I had planned. Scary and wonderful all at the same time.
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
At the moment I am writing a book that will release in 2011 titled A Sound Among the Trees. The story is set in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in a 160-year-old house called Holly Oak that survived one of the more horrific battles of the Civil War. The family living in the house includes the current day matriarch, a woman whose great-great grandmother was accused of being a spy and who hid Union soldiers at Holly Oak. The family also includes the matriarch’s grandson-in-law, a widower with two small children who has just remarried and has brought his new wife to live at Holly Oak, which is, of course, his deceased first wife’s home - an interesting little situation for this new bride. At her wedding reception there is talk that there is a ghost at Holly Oak, which is quickly discounted. But still, the house seems to project an aura of regret, like it can’t forget what happened within its walls during the war. And here is this new bride, trying desperately to fit in . . .
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
There are many people on my life journey who played a part in my becoming a writer. Three that come to mind easily include my parents, as well as a stellar ninth-grade English teacher, Mr. Frank Barone. He was the first to tell me I could be published one day. He is retired now and sometimes we have coffee together. I love that!
What message would you like your readers to take from Lady in Waiting?
You can’t always choose the things that happen to you, but you can always choose how you will respond to the things that happen to you.
What is your greatest achievement?
It may sound strange but I never think about that. Maybe at the end of my life I would have an answer for that question, but even then I think I would still leave that to be decided by the mark I leave on the planet when I leave it.