1) Gladys asked, Should there always be a happy ending to a novel?Some genres require happy ever after endings, like romance genres, but even if the chosen genre doesn’t require the HEA, I believe it should still be a fulfilling ending. Take a book like The Diary of Anne Frank, definitely not a happy ending, but by returning Anne’s diary to her father, the only survivor of the family, the story ending has something significant and the story itself has a “purpose”.
As a writer, whether I am writing a non-fiction article or a novel, it is my job to provide something for the reader to take away from my work – a thought, a value, inspiration… The average reader wants something final from a story, some type of solution. The solution doesn’t necessarily need to be outright happy, but no one should be left with haunting unanswered questions. Cliffhangers in a series will leave enough open to make the reader want to come back for more, but there have been answers and solutions along the way making the reader feel they’ve gained something along the way.
2) Cindy asked, How many of the settings in your books have you actually visited?I really have to count this one out. I’ve never been to Vegas (used liberally in His Lucky Charm), Colorado (from Karma Visited), or Louisiana and Arkansas (from Hostage Heart). I think I’ve been every other place I’ve used as a backdrop, or at least to the general vicinity. I tend to soak up stories from others about places and experiences they’ve been through; I certainly live vicariously. It doesn’t matter whether I have been someplace myself or not though, I do extensive research on each location and try to include enough reality to make the place real – and yet not so much description that I get tripped up for “faking it”.
Several of my stories have had NYC and Hudson Valley settings, places I am very familiar with, but how often have we heard stories of folks who grew up in NYC and yet never visited the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building? I like to check my facts instead of relying on simple memory. Amusingly I once had someone who has been to Las Vegas talk to me about where I had been and stuff – when I told her I never was she told me I “had to have been there” because I described something so well in my book. Travel guides and Chamber of Commerce or Tourism sites are so rich with knowledge and often include pictures, maps and even videos and allow for virtual visits.
3) Marshall asked, Do you think that your early education gave you "food for thought" in developing plots, concepts or characters for your novels?Both my early education and experiences undeniably have provided me with a lot of fodder for my stories. I was extremely lucky to meet a lot of very interesting and colorful people. My parents were involved in the community which opened my eyes to different perspectives.
Each school I attended from grade school through college allowed me to meet and socialize with people of varying backgrounds, faiths, economic status, and interests. I went to high school and college with artistic and creative types, and I worked a part-time job through college that allowed me to fulfill my sense of adventure (undercover retail investigation). All in all I grew up believing everything was possible and even the unexpected could happen.
4) Teresa asked, Where do you get inspiration for a story?I people watch, I listen, I read EVERYTHING, and I play the game of “What if?” I love to exercise (writing) and I rewrite nursery rhymes, newspaper articles, TV shows and things that happened in my own life that I would do differently now with my vast experience, lol.
My husband is part of a federal medical team; he spent six weeks in southern Louisiana after Katrina and Rita devastated New Orleans. When Mark came home he was filled with stories about the strength and resiliency of the people he helped treat, as well as tear-filled recollections of the destruction and loss in the area. The more he spoke the more I pictured a family who had to put their lives back together and Deanna Blair and her parents (Hostage Heart) were “born”. Tidbits from other stories (news items mostly) and memories of folks from my past filled in the rest.
5) Vicki asked, How did you start writing?I volunteered with the NYC Auxiliary Police Department and worked under the auspices of our precinct’s public relations officer. Hank (the detective in charge) asked me to do a favor for him – a young man from our community was killed while trying to help a mugging victim and the weekly newspaper editor asked for an article about the incident. Hank knew I had taken creative writing in school and assigned the task to me. A week later, at the age of 18, I had my first professional byline.
Nine years later, married and pregnant with our daughter, I decided to build a business that I could work from home and I returned to writing professionally. I got a few assignments with local magazines and newspapers. Several years later I realized that I wanted to write fiction, something I had always dabbled with privately, and I kept writing until I found a publisher.
6) Daisy asked, What started you into writing? I know that it is just a matter of time before your books turns into a screen movie.My parents always encouraged self-expression; however I was always very private with anything I wrote. I was shy and worried about exposing myself to ridicule or worse, vulnerability. No joke, putting something as personal as your written thoughts out there is tantamount to stripping naked and inviting a critique on every body flaw.
In high school I had a class in creative writing taught by the renowned poet Daisy Aldan. Ms. Aldan encouraged me to write and deal with the vulnerabilities. I will never forget one writing assignment, we had to write a serious love letter to an inanimate object – I wrote a Love Letter to a Guitar which later appeared in my school’s yearbook – we all chuckled under our breath when the assignment was given, but the exercise proved to be life-altering. I learned to write with much more than pen and paper, I learned to write with my heart and all of my senses.
Thanks for the kind words, I would absolutely love to see some of my stories on the screen and I often play around with casting the characters. Alex O'Loughlin would definitely have to play Jake in Final Sin! (Yum)
7) Jayne asked, How do you envision your hero in each book?My heroes tend to be a compilation of people I know, have heard about, or dream of. I’ve been asked several times if the hero in a book is really my husband, there are qualities that each one shares with Mark, but they aren’t him. While I admit to falling in love with each and every one of them, they are all different and each one has a bit of “bad boy” in him. I think my heroes fit the stories that they are in.
One thing that I do in every story is gift each hero with a habit or trait that has my husband, Mark, all over it, even a few frustrating habits. In Courage of the Heart there is a humorous scene where Davie files Adam’s computer disks on his desk – only NONE of the disks are labeled and it winds up irritating him because he has to now go through them to make sense of the information. Back when we had diskettes Mark never, ever labeled them and it totally perplexed me.
8) From my publisher Kimberlee, Does your significant other read your stuff?No, not at all. Mark likes action adventure books; his favorite books are probably Ludlum and that sort. He “claims” he doesn’t like reading romance – even suspense.
But a few years ago I heard another author talk about her husband not reading her books – she asked him if he felt self-conscious about reading the love scenes and that he might fear seeing himself on the pages. His answer to her was surprising, he was afraid he WOULDN’T see himself. I stopped trying to guilt Mark into reading my books after I heard that.
He is very supportive of my writing endeavors though and cheers me on with each accomplishment.
9) From my publisher Kimberlee, What is the hardest part of writing your books?Writing “The End” and saying goodbye. I’ve created the characters and raised them to function and after all the time I’ve invested on them I now have to let them go off on their own. It really is an empty nest feeling.
10) From my publisher Kimberlee, Tell us about your recent release.I love my novel Karma Visited – it was really a stretch for me to write, it was different from the others.
Karma Visited is a Paranormal Suspense with a strong romantic edge. Annie Furman died on the operating table after an accident that took her parents’ lives – the doctors revive her but she has an unexpected ability to travel in her sleep to disasters and people in need. No one believes that her nightmares are real and her guardians put her into therapy, she eventually learns to pretend that she is “normal”. She gets married only to find that her husband, Scott, isn’t the man she thought he was. When she makes the mistake of confiding in him he uses the information to control her and threatens to commit her if she rebels. Annie meets Dave Turner in one of her dreams; surprisingly he can see and hear her. Dave and Annie grow closer and…
Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out the rest.