author, The First Time
Give us a bit of your background (where are you from, your family, traveling adventures)
I'm from the Pacific Northwest and love it. I was born and raised in Seattle, lived on Orcas Island for a few years when newly married, lived for a couple years in the Southeast--North Carolina & Tennessee--and always felt like I was on vacation. It was beautiful, especially in the fall, but my heart is here, with the mountains and sea and Douglas firs. So back we came and happily settled outside of Seattle.
Most writers are readers. What are some of the books you have on your nightstand and/or on your "must read" list?
I'm an eclectic, moody reader. By that I mean, I get in moods about the sort of story I want to escape into and indulge myself until the mood changes. On my nightstand are recent reads, THE BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown, and DEAD WAKE by Erik Larson, both excellent books that satisfied my mood for creative nonfiction. Now, I'm in an audiobook chick-lit phase, happily listening my way through Sophie Kinsella's standalone titles.
Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance?
I love the journey of falling in love, and I enjoy examining the challenge of life in general--career, family, children--and how it all relates to relationships. I find that the emotion is stronger on the page when an abundance of sex isn't distracting the senses.
What other things do you have planned with your writing for the rest of the year 2015?
I'm working on a suspense novel (which will also be a clean-read, except for a bit of language. One of the characters is menopausal and you're in her thoughts, so . . .), and when that's done, I will assess what to do next. I've got a contemporary fiction novel that I've dabbled with for 20 years that keeps evolving and maturing as I do (I call it my cow story because a cow is rescued in it), another time-travel romance at the revision stage, another suspense novel to follow up the first, if the first sells (cross your fingers), and I'm also looking forward to returning to my beloved Professor Bradshaw, who is patiently waiting for me to write the 5th book in the series (historical mysteries, clean reads.)
What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
The people I meet. I mean that most sincerely. Writing is a lonely art to practice, but it is so rich with kindred spirits in the sharing. Online and in person, I've made connections with people, made friends, I never would have met were it not for the common tie of books. It's a magic, wonderful thing, to meet someone who enjoy either the story-worlds I create or that enjoys books I love, too.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I don't intentionally put my personality into my writing, but I'm sure it's there, in some characters. I do channel my emotional experiences through my characters. What happens to them isn't real, but it's true, if you know what I mean. Love, life, loss, pain, regret, hope, all of that. I tap into what I've emotionally experienced and move my characters through those emotions. Occasionally, I do use some details that my family can recognize. In THE FIRST TIME, the house where Ivy lives with her Aunt Daisy is the house I lived in as a little girl. The games she tells Harrison about, especially running through the sheets on the clothesline and making wishes, those were things my sisters and I did. And I was a grocery checker for many years. If you've ever wondered what that absentminded checker is thinking about as she rings up your groceries--maybe it's a story like this. I drafted quite a few books as I beeped and bagged.
Please share about your book
In a nutshell, THE FIRST TIME is the story of an ordinary grocery checker who finds adventure, a purpose, and love, when a new scanner opens a portal in time to a British soldier in 1901 South Africa.
If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be?
Ivy O'Neal: sweet, smart, selfless, giving, courageous
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
To me, there's no “should” when it comes to reading for pleasure. Sample everything, including THE FIRST TIME, and when a story says “howdy” to you, keep reading to enjoy the journey.