I always get excited when I see an author that has moved half way around the world to call New Zealand their home. I did the same many years ago and I know how hard it is.
Tell us about your latest novel or project:
At the moment I'm putting the finishing touches on The Ipswich Witch, a middle-grade novel involving ten year-old twins, a witch, and an unfortunate pair of goldfish.
What got you started writing?
When I was a toddler, someone put a pencil in my hand and showed me how to make marks on paper.
Honestly. It's not meant to be flippant. I published my first poetry before I was ten years old. I don't remember when I started writing.
What challenges did you face when you first started writing?
I've been writing so long, it's hard to say. However, I've only begun to take my creative writing seriously in the past four years or so. I think that was the hardest part--learning to take myself seriously. It took over a year of full-time writing before I was willing to admit in public that I was a writer. In fact, I refused to go out in public for a year because I didn't want to have to answer the question, "So what do you do?"
Do you ever get the opportunity to travel for your writing? Either to market or to research.
I've had the good fortune to live in many different places--all over the eastern and central US, Costa Rica, Panama, New Zealand--and I incorporate many of these places into my writing.
Who in your life is your greatest cheerleader or support in your writing?
Hands down, my husband. I ran a heritage interpretation business for ten years, and had grown tired of it. My husband supported me wholeheartedly when I said I'd like to close my business and try to write full time. He didn't complain that I would be making almost no income. He has encouraged me every step of the way in a thousand little (and big) ways.
What is it like writing in New Zealand that would be different if you lived anywhere else?
I think it's harder to get noticed by agents and publishers. You can't simply pop off to a writer's conference in New York or London to make personal contacts with agents (at least, not on my budget I can't). Of course, we get the fantastic scenery here, so I don't mind so much.
Do you get to network or meet up with other New Zealand authors?
I rarely get to meet face-to-face with other authors, but I network with authors around the world through various social media outlets. The Christchurch Writer's Guild is my local group, full of supportive folks. I've also met some fabulous writers through SpecFicNZ.
Yeah, I'm part of SpecFicNZ and they are fantastic.
Where do you get your ideas? Is there anything about New Zealand that has inspired you to write?
The Dragon Slayer's Son was inspired by New Zealand landscapes and the beautiful places I go tramping.
Why do you think readers are fascinated by books written about New Zealand?
The Lord of the Rings films help a great deal! Beyond that, the New Zealand landscape is the stuff of fairy tales. New Zealand has a 'frontier' mystique that excites people's imaginations.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have any secrets to productivity?
If I get a good stretch of focus, I can knock out a first draft in six weeks--I call those six-week wonders. It doesn't always happen, but it's a nice goal for me to aim for when I start a book.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I have a collection of rocks from the beach that are my touchstones. They are special rocks, chosen for their shape, texture, or colours. I roll them in my hands, look into their depths, and listen to their stories as I write. They help me focus as I'm sorting out my writing.
How important do you think marketing is for authors today?
Absolutely critical. And I suck at it... I'm slowly learning, though. I reckon that if I can learn to write, I can learn to market.
Do you have any book you have written that won’t ever see the light of day and why?
Yes. I tried my hand at a piece of literary fiction for adults. It was supposed to be light and humorous, but it took a seriously dark turn. Eighty-thousand words later, I couldn't quite believe I'd written it, and I wasn't pleased with it. It was a good exercise, but that's all it will ever be.
Thank you for sharing some of your story and good luck on your next project.