Tell us about your debut novel: The Corpse Goddess is the story of Meg Highbury, a young woman who wakes up the morning of her twenty-first birthday to find a corpse standing vigil over her bed. Turns out, she’s a Valkyrie and her first duty is to walk with the dead. Meg thinks she will do anything to escape this Death Duty, but gods don’t always fight fair and the cost of living just might be the death of her.
What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story? I honestly don’t know! I’ve loved books and stories for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first poem when I was six years old. My Mom says I was always under the covers with a flashlight, reading late into the night. I do know that travel ignites my imagination like nothing else and I know that exploring British castles as a youngster had a profound effect on me.
Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way? Oh, yes – several I’m sure! I read so much and so many different genres. I love non-fiction, fiction, the “classics”, Shakespeare, poetry, graphic novels and more. I think one of the wonders of literature is that it can affect you differently at different times in your life. Reading something like King Lear at age seventy will be an entirely different experience than reading it at age twenty.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp? I’m not really drawn to messages. I’m more interested in the cracks, the gray areas in life. Meg is pitched into a moral quagmire and I found it very interesting to watch her struggle with what’s considered ‘right’ and her very human, panicked desire to live.
What challenges have you faced in your writing career? Rejection. Lots and lots of rejection. It goes with the territory, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard to handle. I also find it challenging to balance writing time with family time. Luckily I have an amazingly supportive family and my kids inspire me every day!
What has been your best moment as a writer? I always thought it would be getting published, but actually the best moment was getting feedback about my book from a complete stranger. She loved The Corpse Goddess and it just made me feel...blissful!
Who is your author idol? Again, I have so many...but I’d have to say Stephen King. Growing up in Europe as a kid, I devoured his books. His characters are so American and for the longest time, my idea of America was wrapped up in his characters. This may sound strange, but I spent so much of my childhood overseas that I didn’t really know my own country.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Definitely! I think I see myself in all of them. I probably wouldn’t be able to write them if I didn’t identify with them in some way.
Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do? Both. My dream of publishing a book has come true and yet, there is so much more to do! I have three unfinished novels vying for attention right now! And though I embrace the eBook revolution and do most of my reading on my Kindle, I wouldn’t mind finding one of my books in a bookstore or library some day.
What is your personal cure for procrastination? Well, this is kind of funny to my friends and family, but I have a mantra – DON’T THINK, DO! I’m a thinker. I love to consider, evaluate and analyze. Problem with that is, nothing ever gets done. So when I start over thinking, I remind myself, Don’t think, do!
What does your workspace look like? A coffee shop, a kitchen table, a car, the backyard, my bed...as a busy Mom, I tend to write all over the place!
Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer? For me, yes. Sitting! I actually use a voice recorder to write rough drafts. I walk all over the neighbourhood, talking to myself, looking like a lunatic, I’m sure! But I can’t sit for the four to six hours a day that I write. My legs start to feel like cement. So I do a lot of walking.
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit? Many times! Rejection and judgement are part of the process and sometimes it becomes a little much. But I love stories and I love writing them down and trying to turn them into something meaningful. I’ve quit before, but I know I’ll never really stop. Joseph Campbell said you should follow your bliss. Writing fills my soul in a way that nothing else does (though travel comes close). So whether I’m publishing or not, I’ll always write.
What do you do when you’re not writing? I read! Lol. I spend time with my family and friends. We all love to travel. I love to cook, work in the garden when it’s not too hot. I listen to my daughter play her cello. I also spend a lot of time helping the kids with homework during the school year.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? Gosh, I don’t know...I’m not sure writers are entirely sane! We spend so much time in our fictional worlds! It helps to have people around you that understand the insanity!
What was the greatest thing you learned at school? That I could learn anything if I worked hard enough. Even statistics!
Did you have a moment when you realised you were meant to be a writer? I always thought I was meant to be a writer. I realized I was a writer, published or not, when I quit and kept writing.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? If you write, you are a writer. That’s it. Don’t wait for anyone else to tell you that you’re “good enough” to be a writer. Work on your craft. Put in the hours. If you want to be a novelist, write several novels. Don’t think, DO!
What are the advantages of e-publishing? Opportunity! There are so many opportunities out there for writers right now. I know there’s a lot of amateur stuff out there and if you’re self-publishing, please, please hire an editor. But there are also a lot of great writers out there that aren’t getting picked up by the big boys in publishing. E-publishing is giving me the opportunity to be a working writer...and really, that’s all I ever wanted to be.
What’s been the most exciting thing about making your debut as an author? Seeing how excited my husband and my kids are about it. They’ve been with me for the long haul, watching me work hard for so many years. I think they’re more excited than I am! Maybe.
Next Wednesday I'm talking to Monique McDonell, author of Chick Lit novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels, so swing by!
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