Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Two Brothers: Origin is a young adult science fiction novel revolving around the lives of 17-year old Argus and Tai, twin brothers who were home-schooled up until their senior year. They are enrolled in public school and want to fit in with the other kids, but that’s going to be difficult because they have a secret they must keep.
When a government agent snoops around and discovers that the boys aren’t exactly regular teenagers, Argus and Tai’s lives are about to change forever. Argus falls for Lola, a quiet nerdy girl and makes friends with Dave, a bullied kid with a limp, and wants so much to be normal. When the boys’ guardian Aunt Celeste drops a bomb on them about their true origin, Argus is devastated. Things only get worse from there and not only is their freedom jeopardized, but also their very survival. Two Brothers: Origin is a trilogy and the second book is almost complete.
Do you have a favorite character?
I’m really attached to Argus, the main protagonist. I think he has more of me in him than his brother, Tai. Argus wants a simple life with friends and wants more than anything to fit in and be liked. That’s how I was in school. I was born in Australia and moved to the United States when I was five, so I had a strong Aussie accent and was different than other kids. I wanted to fit in and have friends. Argus has a secret that makes him very different. He’s a good, kind person, although he’s not afraid to defend his brother, himself or his friends. He’s strong and intelligent and I like that about him.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes, once I’d revised and edited until I couldn’t any more, I began the querying process. I prefer to focus on small publishers because there is a lot more publisher-writer personal contact. I tried querying a few agents, but as most writers know, agents are very hard to land. I feel so fortunate to have been accepted by Escargot Books and Music. The channels of communication are open and they are a fabulous group of people. I had a lot of input with my book cover, for instance, which you don’t generally get with a big publisher.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I belong to two critique groups. One I’ve belonged to for over six years and the other only a couple of months. I think it’s essential for writers to have a group of trusted critiquers who will give their honest feedback. It won’t do any good to hear that it’s good or well-written without any mention of either why it works (so it can be duplicated) or why it doesn’t work. My groups don’t hold back and will pick apart every chapter I submit, which is exactly how I like it. Writing is a craft that must be worked on constantly and feedback is the way to do that. No matter how many times I revise or edit, my critiquers will always manage to ferret out something that’s wrong. That’s why I love and treasure them!
What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
My writing process varies. There are times when I need absolute quiet, like when I’m revising or proofing, but when I’m getting into the creative aspect of writing, I need music. And that music varies as well depending on what I’m writing. If I’m working on an action sequence, I like energetic music, if I’m working on a sad or poignant part, I really need sad and slower music. Then there’s always my standby no matter what I’m writing; Mozart.
Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I generally don’t work with outlines. I have the basic plot drawn out in my head, but I can’t work with an outline because everything changes anyway. I also love the fact that I don’t really know where my characters will go or what they will do until they do it! I become the characters (good and bad), so I’m living their lives as it plays out on the screen. And that’s fun! With an outline, it’s too structured and I find that I’m trying to work the story around the outline. For me, it takes the creativity out of the process.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
It is difficult to juggle marketing and writing, but that’s part of being a writer. Especially these days where writers are expected to do most, if not all, of their own promotions and marketing. Not that I mind, it’s actually kind of fun, but splitting precious time between marketing and trying to finish the next book is difficult. I really enjoy building a fan base and keeping in touch with people I meet, virtually, on the various social media venues.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
While I haven’t self-published, I know writers who have. My advice would be to do your best writing. Then edit, revise and rewrite until it’s as perfect as you can get it. If you’re not good at grammar or the technical aspect of writing, hire an editor and don’t publish your work until it’s in tip-top condition. You don’t want to make a bad impression to your readers. I’ve read both good and bad self-published books, but you certainly don’t want to fall into the bad category. Self-publishing is no different, in quality, than if you have a publisher. You want to get a reputation as a great writer, not one who rushed through the process (and it will show, trust me!)
Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
My other interests are archaeology (currently a grad student in archaeology), environmental/animal conservation issues, women’s equality issues and sustainability. I hold two undergraduate degrees in environmental resource management/conservation and wildlife biology and archaeology and have worked in both fields.
What’s next for you?
Right now I’m finishing up Book Two of the Two Brothers trilogy and working on a sequel to a historical romantic suspense novel, and a sequel to a science fiction novella and querying a paranormal romance and a thriller. After I finish the second Two Brothers installment, Book Three will start!