Author Interview: Q. How did you come up with the idea for the Avalon series?
I was inspired by exploring forests with my friends when I was growing up. It felt like such a magical place. To think that everyday we are losing more species and wild habitats made me want to do something to express how I felt. Through Avalon, I can share my love of wild things and wild places with others.
Q. Is there a message in the Avalon series that you want readers to grasp?
The message is to embrace uniqueness in this world. By accepting and appreciating what makes each of us different, we can enrich the lives of every human and animal on the planet. Be proud of what makes you special, work hard for what you believe in, and real magic can happen.
Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about the book?
The brand new Avalon e-books have given me the opportunity to graphically re-design the entire series. The wonderful illustrations were upgraded to a higher resolution and placed at the end of the chapters, rather than break up the narrative flow with art.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing the Avalon series?
Keeping the story fresh over twelve books was a real challenge. Although I had the big outline in mind, I didn’t want to repeat myself, so I worked hard to keep the characters evolving and changing with each new challenge they faced. Continuity was a big task, too. I made a list of characters and locations so I’d have a reference if I forgot the color of a character’s eyes or the geography of a place I hadn’t visited in a few books. I never want the story to be predictable, so I spent a lot of time making sure each book had unexpected twists and turns. What’s surprising to me is that even after twelve books, I still have so much more Avalon story to tell!
Q. Did you learn anything from writing the Avalon series and what was it?
Writing is hard work. I mean, I knew that, but to make a living as a writer takes tremendous discipline and pretty much all of your time. The more I write, the more I learn to be a better writer and editor. I often get asked if I just sit down and write the books all at once without going back to change anything. Nothing could be further from the truth! Most of writing is rewriting – editing the general ideas I’ve laid out, rearranging how a scene plays out, changing the dialogue, redoing descriptions to accurately convey what I see in my mind. Writing really is 90% editing. The other 10% is snacks
Q. Did you have a musical playlist you listen to when writing? If so, what kind of music?
I love music and listen to all different kinds. It is critical for my writing process. I make playlists to help myself focus, and 2 or 3 hours flies by.
I choose different music for each phase of the process:
1. Writing. Movie scores and classical are perfect for writing! They’re inspiring and atmospheric, but don’t get in the way of staying laser focused on the writing at hand.
2. Editing. When I mark up the draft with a red pen, I need long stretches of electric guitar jams, so I gravitate toward classic rock.
3. Inputting. For inputting of the edits, I need to rock out so I don’t feel bogged down by pages and pages covered with notes in red pen! Depending on the day, it could be the Beatles, Katy Perry, or Nicki Minaj.
Q. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've been an avid reader and movie watcher my whole life. Every time I finish a great story I get inspired to create my own worlds and adventures. I’ve been writing my own stories ever since I can remember.
Q. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Ray Bradbury is up there. I remember a story I read in sixth grade called The Veldt, and it’s like I read it yesterday. He has an amazing way of conveying deep emotions and big ideas with straightforward language that often reads like poetry. I was lucky enough to hear him speak several times, and he was extremely inspirational. His mantra: never give up on the things you love. His early loves, from dinosaurs to martians, shaped his entire life and amazing literary career. No matter what you love, if you commit yourself to working hard and staying true to what you believe in, great things will happen.
Q. Tell us your latest news.
I recently signed to an awesome digital publisher, www.premierdigitalpublishing.com, and will be creating titles exclusively for them. That includes the next Avalon trilogy called Shadow Warrior, which is very exciting. I’ve also finished the first book in a new mystery series, Angel West, starring a teenage detective, and am plotting out a brand new sci-fi/fantasy trilogy. I’m also extremely excited to say progress is being made on the Avalon movie, which will be based on the first book, Circles in the Stream.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! I am so grateful for the readers who reach out to let me know what Avalon has meant to them. Many have shared stories about the rough times they’ve experienced in their lives. So if you are going through something difficult, just remember that what makes you different is what makes you special, no matter what anybody says.