I started scribbling as soon as I could hold a pencil – not a chisel and stone tablet, as my youngest might add! I’d fold and staple and tape little bits of paper together to make “books.”
In elementary school, I had a great English teacher or, as we called it then, Language. She was very strict, by the book so to speak, and I learned a lot. I edited the school paper, and made a few changes as well on the production end. In high school, I spent a year covering sports for the school paper and took advanced English and creative writing classes. I also did a summer class with one of our regional newspapers and learned a little journalism.
2. Is Reduced your first book?
The first one published, yes, but not the first one started. That’ll be my magnum opus, if you will – it’s historical fiction, based on real characters, and covers six generations.
3. How did you get the idea of Reduced?
Seems silly now, but last January, 2012 I mean, I had a craving for chips and salsa. It was about 10:00 p.m. and I should have just gone to bed, but. . .I didn’t. I woke up around 3:00 a.m. after having the strangest dream – and that dream became a scene near the beginning of Reduced.
4. Did you have the story mapped out from the start, or did the story take unexpected twists and turns as you went along?
When I got up the next morning, after the salsa-induced dream, I just started writing. I knew there had to be an explanation as to why Abby was shooting up the place, and it really just came to me. I wrote the first 40-50K words during the month of February, letting Abby and the others tell me what was happening.
5. How much of yourself do you put into your main and supporting characters?
A little bit, I suppose. Abby does resemble me, in looks and mannerisms and speech. She’s more who I want to be, if I really wanted to change, or maybe who I could be under the right circumstances if I were forced into her situation. As for the others, well, maybe just a tad – after all, they lived in my head before I put them down on paper!
6. Reduced paints a rather dim picture of the world, is that what you see happening in the future?
Oh, I think it’s possible. If not the same catalyst, something could well occur that would make Reduced look like a walk in the park or, well, a regular, long-term camping trip. Or, perhaps, just that things could become more difficult in the near future, such as food shortages and rising prices for necessities.
7. On a personal note, how do you find the time to write?
Not easily! Sometimes, when inspiration strikes, I’ll dash off a thousand-word article or blog post, but mostly I’m committing to a particular project and then, well, a lot of things get neglected!
8. What are your ideal writing conditions?
Ideally, I’d be on the beach in Aruba – I know exactly what my house looks like, right down to the color and the location and the furnishings and the deck and, well, you get the picture, right?
Now, in the real world, I wait for that aforementioned inspiration and I write whenever I can until it’s done. Lots of interruptions make me cranky, but it doesn’t take but a minute to get back into the rhythm so I can deal with that. Usually!
9. What do you do when you're not writing?
Well, I’m usually up by 6:00 a.m., working in my home office until it’s time to take my son to school or run errands or open the bookstore. Then, I’m at the store until at least 2:30, if I have to pick up said son, or until 3:30 or so when Dennis brings him home. Then he runs the store until we close at 7:00 and I go home and cook, clean, do laundry, fix dinner, and work some more at home until around 9:00 or 10:00, depending on what’s going on that day.
“Work” means selling books, keeping up with trade news in bookselling and publishing, promoting and marketing RHP books and the store, coming up with and implementing new ideas and events, working with our cover designer and editor, editing, proofing, formatting, answering about a million questions a day via messaging and email, keeping track of our five kids/three grandkids/assorted spouses, attending events and writers guild meetings and community boards.
And trying to avoid run-on sentences. I’m not very good at that.
10. Where can Reduced, Reused and Recycled be found?
Oh, many places: our bookstore, several other local bookstores in St. Louis, my website, the RHP website, the bookstore website. Back seat of my truck. And of course, the website-that-must-not-be-named-by-booksellers!
11. Can you tell us one thing about you that would surprise us?
Well, maybe. . . I’ve held over twenty different jobs through the years, including taxi driver and school bus driver, sales, restaurant work, and a few others – and I’ve owned five different businesses. One is bound to take off, sooner or later!