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What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused and inspired?
Ha! Honestly, not much! I have two small children, so my writing space is almost always riddled with toys and clutter. I just need my notes (I roughly plot my books) and maybe a coffee. 🙂
You’re known for completely immersing your audiences in the time period of your novels. How do you create such a well-drawn backdrop for a time you’ve never experienced?
I LOVE research. It’s actually difficult for me to get out of research and start writing sometimes! In the case of The Fifth Avenue Artists Society, I read Gilded Age newspapers to get a feel for what was going on during the time of my story, poured over old photos and maps, read letters from the real life Virginia (my main character in the novel), dug up fashion plates donated to The Met by Virginia’s sister, Alevia (all of the dresses in the book are dresses actually worn by the sisters), and listened to era-appropriate music.
How do you celebrate finishing a novel?
I was just talking with my husband about this the other day! We are horrible at celebrating milestones and need to get better about acknowledging these accomplishments. Often, I type The End and the next day start researching or dreaming about my next project. When I release a book, I like to have a big party, though (obviously in the era before covid). The Fifth Avenue Artists Society’s launch party was at a Gilded Age home and I tried to recreate the artists society atmosphere for guests–artist friends painted, played music, etc. It was such fun!
What do you think is vital in creating chemistry between your characters, whether they be friends or lovers? How do you create connections?
Chemistry comes when you start to see your characters as real, well-rounded people, not just caricatures. It helps that my characters are either real people or based on real people. We are all complex, with flaws and gifts and desires and struggles, and it’s our connection with the people we do life with that sort of take us by the hand and help us make it through. None of us are an island. We can’t accomplish much alone. When I’m first plotting a story, I’m always thinking about my main character’s wants and needs and hardships and from there, I almost always consider who she’ll interact with, who she’ll need to ultimately realize what she’s seeking. Chemistry is about mutual impact. The characters in my main character’s sphere have to affect her life and she has to affect theirs.
What are your favorite children’s stories?
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Hattie and Hudson by Chris Van Dusen
Can I Get There by Candlelight by Jean Doty
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
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?
I’m always working on something! I have two finished novels–one historical, one a contemporary small town story. 🙂 My agent and I are working on both of these and I’ll let you all know when I have news.