Would you call yourself a born writer?
I’d say so. I’ve always loved reading stories and making up stories and telling stories. As a child growing up I was hearing impaired, shy, and rather introverted and didn’t have a huge number of friends. Books gave me somewhere to go, places I knew I’d never be able to go in real life, and they sparked my already fertile imagination. Sometimes they made me laugh and sometimes cry, but well-written books always got me caught up with the characters and situations. I decided even before high school that I wanted to try my hand at moving others emotionally through storytelling the way I had so often been moved.
What was your inspiration for Children of the Knight?
I dedicated the book to all of the amazing kids I’ve worked with over the years and they are truly the inspiration for this story, especially the incarcerated kids who clued me into a world of almost impossible-to-believe degradations perpetrated against children in this society. Sadly, every terrible act committed against kids in my book is one I’ve heard from someone in real life. And yet these same abused, abandoned, neglected, tortured kids who really should have given up years before, inspired me through their ability to rise above their pasts and still possess hope for a better future. Amazing!
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I like to explore themes of honor and decency and doing what’s right, rather than following the main media mantra these days of “it’s all about me.” Sadly, in our society today, most kids growing up witness and are taught self-centered behaviors, and thus they think life should be all about them. Selfishness in the adult population is what’s bringing our society down, so I like characters facing situations wherein they must make really hard moral choices, like what’s right versus what’s easy. Teens today have precious few role models in any walk of life that exemplify this model.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
The outline for this story began a LONG time ago, but I only sat down to write it in earnest last summer. It took about a month or two for the first draft and then endless tweaking and revising for several months thereafter.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
Yes. Since I no longer have a 9-5 job, my job is writing. I’m usually up early in the morning, eat breakfast, and then write for most of the day until maybe 3 or 4. Then I go to the gym where I work out with and train teenagers (see how YA is a perfect fit? HA!) and after the gym I go home and write some more. Depending upon my weekend plans, this will be my typical schedule then too. When I have a story to get out of my system, it’s easy to be disciplined because I want to finish it.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
Juggling a large cast of characters and making sure to work each one in as thoroughly as possible. Some of them become more prominent in the sequels than in this one, but it’s always a challenge to have a large cast. Once in a while I’d realize I placed the same kid in two different locations at the same time, or forgot about some other kid for several chapters. Ha! There are also a large number of adult characters and they had to be given sufficient “screen time” as well.
What do you love most about being an author?
I love being an author because I love the idea of touching someone else’s heart and mind through my writing the same way my heart and mind were so often touched, and even influenced, as a kid growing up. If I can achieve that through my writing, all the sweat and drama of writing the book and getting it published will have been worth it.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
My first two books were self-published through two different companies. I enjoyed the experience, but also found it difficult because I don’t really have anyone who will read my stuff for errors or typos or just continuity problems, and thus mistakes found their way to the final product. Also, the marketing is all on me because there is no company that will benefit financially from marketing it themselves. This book, Children of the Knight, was released by a real YA publisher and it’s been an amazingly positive and joyful experience. These people have been fantastic and creative and incredibly helpful all along the way and I can’t say enough good things about the company or the people. The editing process was painstakingly thorough and hopefully no mistakes actually made it into the printed book. I don’t plan to read it to find out however. Ha! There’s probably more money to be made in self-publishing, but more expense, as well. If all publishers are as amazing as Harmony Ink I’d say go with a real company.