Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
I did. Along with being a dancer and an actress! I love the arts and loved my books and reading has been my favorite past time since I was a little girl.
Q: How did you choose the modern romance genre, or did it more “choose you?”
It chose me. I’m an emotional person and I love stories with emotion—whether its tenderness, loss, hope, passion. From Little Women to Jane APride and Prejudice, I craved novels about love, family and connection. When I first started writing I imitated the authors I liked best, and romance happened to be among the genres I enjoyed. It wasn’t long until I was trying to write my version of the 80′s Desire titles and the Mills & Boons I read at thirteen.
Q: Your latest novel, She’s Gone Country, follows a former top model moving from her wonderful life in New York City to Texas after her husband leaves her.
Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
My childhood. I’m the granddaughter of a Texan who once had three cattle ranches. After my grandfather died during an accident on the Parkfield ranch, two of the properties were sold but Parkfield remains in the family today. I spent a lot of my childhood on the ranch, riding horses, tramping through tall grass, playing in the trickling streambeds. It was an idyllic childhood and one I really wanted to revisit in She’s Gone Country…..only Shey’s three boys don’t like the ranch life as much as I did!
Q: How were you able to secure an agent when you were first starting out?
I found getting an agent was harder than getting a publisher. Agents just didn’t love my voice or stories. I probably was a hardsell–writing really strong alpha heroes but in a sweeter hearth and home setting. What’s fun is that I’m finally writing those stories now and my readers love them.
Q: Do you think it is important for aspiring writers to sign up for writing workshops?
I think its important for aspiring writers to work on craft. The best writers I know are always learning and developing their writing chopx, and its doubly important for writers to know the craft and be able to learn how to make a good story absolutely brilliant. Do you have to go to workshops to learn how to do that? No. You can read books, listen to tapes, and work with other writers, but the key is to always be open to learning and getting feedback.
Q: I saw that you are from Visalia, CA- that’s where I was born! What did you love the most about this small, central California town?
I love the simplicity of growing up in a small town where everyone knows you and you have a lot of emotional and physical security. Visalia still remains my home in my heart. In fact I’m going there for a book signing on Sept 12th and can’t wait to visit all my favorite places and catch up with old friends.
Q: I read that you had the opportunity to travel and study abroad. Do you have a favorite location you were able to visit?
I love travel, period. I work to travel. I really do. And of all places I’ve been, is there a fav? Hmmm…I don’t I have just one! The reason I like travel so much is that it makes life feel interesting and new. I will say though that Italy and Ireland have always resonated with me but its also important for me to visit new places.
Q: What is your best advice for aspiring writers?
Write!!! Write and write and write and try to get input from editors and agents on your work. Don’t be afraid of criticism. It’ll make you a better writer and develop the mental toughness necessary to survive in this industry.
Q: If you could spend six months traveling, where all would you go?
I day dream about this all the time…I’d spend months in Greece, and then head over to Morrocco and Dubai. I’d love to explore it all and have lots of time to just hang out in places and read and write and people watch. People watching is the best part of traveling.