Which of your books did you have the most fun writing?
The most fun? That would be my very first, which is no longer in print but which I wrote on a lark. I had never thought to be an author until I read an article in my local newspaper about women who wrote category romances. I read a bunch, sat down, and wrote my own. It took me to the mountains of Brazil with people who had nothing to do with my life at home with three children, a husband, and cleaning, cooking, and refereeing. I found that I loved the process of writing. The words just poured out of me. It was the best escape in the world – the glove of a career that fit me perfectly.
I love that your website lists all the books you’re reading -how do you juggle your reading time with your writing time? Is it hard to read a book while in the process of writing?
Yes! For the longest time, I couldn’t read other books while I was writing my own. I needed to stay in the life of my characters without distraction. I needed to stay in my own voice, not the voice of another author. It was only when I began spacing out my books that I was able to pleasure-read more. Now I have three books going at any given time – one in print, one on audio, and one on kindle.
How do you connect with your characters? Do they tend to take after people close to you, or are they a full concoction from your imagination?
I work really, really hard not to base characters on people I know. I never want my family or friends to think I’m writing them into books. That would be a betrayal – which isn’t to say that one characteristic or another, one experience or another from real life doesn’t enter my books. Of course, it does. Sometimes it’s subconscious. I have a feeling that I’ve written about people in my past without ever realizing it!
Do you ever travel to conduct your research for books? If so, what place has been your favorite?
So funny you ask. I had always set my books in New England and had a slew of favorite towns that I visited often for research. But a while ago my agent suggested I set a book on the West Coast. At the time, my husband and I were making yearly trips to Big Sur. San Francisco was not far north of there. So I plotted a San Francisco book and after I’d done an outline and the first few chapters, flew out ahead of him and spent several days touring the city. For whatever reason, San Francisco didn’t work for me. In the single week after I returned home, I reframed the story to take place in Big Sur, which I did love. That book, Coast Road, was a breakout book for me, my first hardcover to hit the New York Times list.
What were some of your favorite books when you were growing up?
I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. My mother died when I was very young, and these books took me to a safe family, a different time and place. Growing up in Boston, I loved books about the American Revolution. I even loved Nancy Drew mysteries, though I’m not at all a fan of thrillers today. Life is too much of a thriller. Y’know?
What’s next for you? Are you working on a new project? If so, can you give us a teaser and/or an expected release date?
No teaser yet. I’m a third of the way through my next book but have paused to assess – which actually brings us full circle to your first question, about the book I had the most fun writing. Writing is fun. The business of writing is not. When I wrote that first book, I had a ball. But publishing has changed dramatically in the years since. I’m trying to decide where to go from here.