What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears? The marketing; I’m not much for social media. (I’ll do it, she says, swallowing the lump in her throat.)
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character? The intrepid Anne Shirley
What books are on your nightstand? The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, Astoria by Peter Stark, Tacky’s Revolt by Vincent Brown, The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, and Rosaura a las diez by Marco Denevi
Favorite punctuation mark? Why? Although I think it’s variety that makes it fun, I’d have to favor the good ol’ period. Just end it already.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements? A mug of chai latte
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write? One bite at a time. And chew well before swallowing.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Energizing when it’s going well, exhausting when it’s not.
What is your writing Kryptonite? When my writing group takes a break I’m predictably less disciplined about actually getting anything done. Turns out I need deadlines!
Have you ever gotten reader’s block? That enigma called busyness.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly? Sure. A person could be an acute observer or a wit with a flair for wordsmithing even if they’re not an emotional roller-coaster. Though a bit of mania could bring extra spark, wink.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I don’t have a rule about this. So far each book is a stand-alone project. I suppose what they have in common is how different they are from each other, particularly in place and time. (But I wouldn’t rule out sequels or spin-offs!)
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing? Once I secured a publishing contract with Unsolicited Press, I took working on the next project more seriously. I devoted more time and brain space to it.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
One day, on my walk home from school with a neighbor girl, somehow in our conversation I used a swear word. The girl rushed to my house, to tattle. My dad was outside, and she declared, “Mari said the F word!” I was (at age 6 and an acute rule-follower), of course, horrified. Dad said, “You mean family? Fun? Friends?” He knew what was up and wouldn’t let her have that power over the situation. What a hero!
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? Iceland’s Bell by Halldór Laxness
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Oh, the tortoise, of course. Calm and steady. (And I wish I had a thicker shell!)
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Since writing The Runestone’s Promise, I have completed a novel set in and around Portland, Oregon, called Cleah’s Bequest (yet to be published) and am working on my third, The Stolen Watch, which takes place in Ecuador.
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