An Interview with Gillian Kufinya

Gillian Kufinya

Describe yourself in five words: spirited, merry, hardworking, easy going

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? That I write books now completely different from what I was doing career wise.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?  I confront my fear head on and surrounded myself with people who are positive who will not feed my fear.

What scares you the most? Getting old without publishing all the books I carry and those I have written.

What makes you happiest? Apart from writing it would be goofing around with my children

Why do you write?  Creative writing has always fascinated me since I was child

 Have you always enjoyed writing? Yes

What motivates you to write? Experiences and a wild imagination.

 What writing are you most proud of? Celestial City Travellers  I published it when I was facing some serious health challenges.

What are you most proud of in your personal life? My children

 What books did you love growing up? Enid Blyton especially Magic of the Faraway tree

 What do you hope your obituary will say about you? Here lies one of the greatest children’s book author whose writing impacted a generation

 Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? I grew up in Bulawayo before we moved to Harare Zimbabwe

How did you develop your writing? I was writing for my oldest son so he had something more challenging to read and supplement what he was bringing home from the school library.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? marketing

What marketing works for you? Email marketing, facebook ,amazon ads

 Do you find it hard to share your work? no

 Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you? Very supportive couldn’t have done it without them. Have always written but was too lazy to publish and they encouraged me to get published.

 What else do you do, other than write? Run a gaming cafe so I am always surrounded by children

 What other jobs have you had in your life? Accounting by profession

 If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? Child psychology

 If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? It would still be Zimbabwe

 Tell us about your family? Am a mother of four. Have two boys and two girls the oldest now 18 years and the one I started writing books for.

 How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk? I am faster with pen and paper

How much sleep do you need to be your best? Four hours of uninterrupted sleep

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support? Debra, Heather, Jason, Mrs Collins and Brian

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? Getting a couple of book awards and getting sales even after you are gone.

It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign? I got a launch team of children who will spread the word to their peers. They are more well versed with social media. Plan on doing some school visits to have the book in school libraries.

Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?  Realm of Uncertainty is a follow up to Celestial City Travellers. Its a story of friendship, loyalty and overcoming one’s fears. I wrote it to show children sometimes struggle to find true friendships and they have fears they have to deal with on a daily basis that adults can be unaware of.

 If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask? Enid Blyton

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax? Gaming, reading children’s books or watching movies

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel? That they are entertained, refreshed and look forward to see the book turned into a movie.

Do you have links that you’d like to share for others to read?

Author Interview with L.A Davis

L.A Davis

Author L. A. Davis earned her Doctorate of Education Degree with an Emphasis in Organizational Leadership and Development in 2018. She focused her dissertation topic on the Blind or Visually Impaired and their perception of gaining employment. She was born on the island of St. Thomas USVI but resides in the United States. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Where are you from?  I was born in St. Thomas USVI. I lived in the historic area of Savan.

Describe yourself in five words – Compassionate, No nonsense, Intelligent, Tenacious, and Introvert.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?   I face it and do it afraid.

What scares you the most? We all have things that scare us. I don’t like putting my fears out into the atmosphere but If I had to pick one thing, it would have to be being a vagabond.

What makes you happiest? Being around my children.

What are you most proud of in your personal life? Earning my Doctorate degree.

What is hardest – getting published, writing, or marketing?  Getting publish would be the hardest if I was looking for a traditional publisher. Since I self-publish, it has to be marketing barnone.

What marketing works for you? I do marketing via some social media platforms, blog interviews, and radio interviews if they aren’t live. I also work with my editor who is a guru in marketing. She even wrote her own book on how to do it.

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you? My family members are very supportive and so are many of my friends. I’ve learned that no matter how many people support you, there will always be that one person who is secretly wishing you to fail.

What does your family think of your writing?  I’m not sure, I have to ask them.

Why do you write? Writing has become my hobby.

What do you write about?  I write about anything that pops into my head and nags me until I write it. That is a frustrating thing.  I have a coloring book and fiction nagging me right now. I have no idea how I will develop them yet.

Do you have a specific writing style? No, but so far all of my stories came from some aspect of my life. I’ve done nonfiction, historical fiction, romance, and after this book, poetry and a few coloring books for my grandbaby.

What are obstacles that come in the way of writing?  Writer’s block is something I get a lot. The owner of my publishing house told me to write something else when I get writer’s block, so I wrote romance and poetry at the same time. I watched an advertisement on YouTube and the author said when you get writers block, get some paper and start writing anything that comes to your mind even if it’s junk because it’s still writing. I really love that advice because I don’t have to worry about how my writing sounds or if I have the correct punctuation. Writing like that can promote good ideas.

What’s the most memorable thing asked/said by a reader about your work? I had a student download my first book when I offered it for free. She emailed me to tell me how much it helped her, and she left a review. I also had someone mail me a card from Florida and told me she loved my second book. I so appreciated that kind gesture.

How long have you been writing? I started writing in 2015 but didn’t publish my first book until 2018.

When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer? Hmm, I never wanted to be a writer. I was forced to become one when I realized that I was being academically hazed. I hated my university and my chairperson. Yes, I know hate is a strong word, but I have to be honest with how I felt. I needed a way to share my journey, so I used all of that negative energy to write something positive. Once that happened, then came book numbers two, three and soon four and possibly five and six. I never intended for this to happen.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I don’t have a set schedule. I write when I have something to put on paper. Sometimes it happens when I am doing something in the house, when I’m talking to someone and they say something that catch my attention, or when I’m sleeping.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?  I have to get my manuscript formatted before I can finish writing my book. It never fails. Some people can write the entire transcript, then send it out for formatting and editing. I’ve not been able to do that.

What challenges do you come across when writing/creating your story?The first thing that comes to me is the title and then the cover idea. The most challenging part is trying to figure out how the story should flow. I write until I hit a wall and then I walk away for as long as I need too. When I’m ready, I go back and repeat the cycle until I feel I can’t go anymore. Then I send the book out for formatting to see how many pages the manuscript is. I can gauge if my book is long enough or I write until my story is finished. There is something about the formatting that helps me finish my stories.

Do you see writing as a career? No. Self-publishing doesn’t fill up that bank account. If I have the potential of selling my books like Michelle Obama, Stephen King, or a large publishing company want to work with me, then I would consider it a career. Outside of that, it will be a hobby.

Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers? First I would like to say thank you so much for loving me enough to read this interview, and thank you for purchasing my book, I hope you enjoy reading one or all of them. I hope my book gives courage to those of you who want to write but feel too scared to take that first step. Writing is hard, but it’s so much fun. When you open that box and see your book for the first time, you will want to write more.

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?  I love this question and I will always answer it the same. I would have a dinner party with my ancestors. Every single one of them. I want to tell them how much I love and appreciate them. I want to know where I come from and what makes me so unique. I would like to know what their experiences were, what they did, what they enjoyed, and the sacrifices they made for me to have this opportunity. I would also like to have just one day alone with all of the women so I can see if any of them are just like me. I call myself the blue M and M because I am so different. I love to do daredevil stuff also. It had to come from somewhere. I would love to meet the person to blame for it.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support? I would like to thank God first and foremost. I would like to thank my family, my friends, my editor, and publishing house. I would especially like to thank my first publisher Dr. Cecilia Dennery of doctrine 101 publishing. I would like to also thank the people that buy my book for their support.

Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?   My next book is, When I Kiss Em, They Stay Kissed. I decided to publish it in the month of love because that is such a tough month for so many people due to Valentine’s Day. I talk about my experience with my first kiss and how it shaped me. The book is not about kissing techniques but of giving a kiss to others whether it’s your children, family member, lover, friend, spouse or a greeting and how filling your kiss with powerful intentions can leave a lastly memory. I give an idea in the back of the book as to how you should do it. The book also touches on some interesting areas that might make some people upset, feel nostalgia, make them cry, and help them have hope after heartbreak. I talked a little on how my own heartbreak helped me to accomplish my personal goals. The book touch on almost every aspect of love. When I re-read the manuscript, parts of it mad me happy, parts of it made me sad, and parts of it made me laugh. Others parts reminded me fondly of romantic situations I had in my life.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel? Well the first thing I hope is that they like my writing and that they leave good reviews. Those always help but more than that, I want people to always feel like they are in the story with me. In my first book, I take the reader on a bus ride with me, the second book I take to reader on a ride inside a hurricane and a slave ship, my third book I want the reader to get on board the love train with me, and my fourth book, I want my reader to have some café au lait with me. My books are feel-good books. We need that right now don’t we? Each book I write teaches the reader something.

Do you have links that you’d like to share for others to read?

My new book will be up for pre-sale starting Dec 1-Jan 31 for .99 cents 

Author Central

Dr. L. A. Davis
2403 W Stan Schlueter Loop #690923
Killeen, Texas 76549

Author Interview with Nikita Gupta

Nikita Gupta

Hi, I’m Nikita Gupta! I’m a Business Executive (MBA) who became a SAHM, author, serial entrepreneur, and blogger. This multicultural lifestyle blog is dedicated to discussing interracial/intercultural dating and marriage, multicultural parenting, food recipes, and much much more! Welcome to Growing Up Gupta!

  • Where are you from? I grew up in the Midwest, US but now reside in the Southeast, US.
  • Why do you write? I write and blog to bring awareness to interracial/intercultural dating and marriage, multicultural parenting etc.
  • What do you write about? I am the creator of the multicultural lifestyle blog, Growing Up Gupta (  The blog openly and honestly discusses the joys and challenges of interracial/intercultural dating and marriage, multicultural parenting, fusion recipes and more.
  • Do you have a specific writing style?  My writing style varies based upon what I’m writing about and my audience.
  • What are obstacles that come in the way of writing? Time.
  • Whats the most memorable thing asked/said by a reader about your work?  There have been so many memorable things said to me by my readers. Here are some of the most impactful.

“I can’t thank you for your blog. Keep doing what you do!”

“Your blog helps us see we are not alone. “We go to your blog everyday to read it because it is helping us navigate our interracial relationship. “

“I have not come across any articles that speak to the kind of relationship and marriage I am in until now.” Thank you for your blog! I wish it was around when we were dating but it is helping so many now and that’s what matters!”

“Your blog is helping my significant other and I stay together and stand together.”

  • How long have you been writing? I have been blogging and writing books consistently for 4 years.
  •  When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer? I have actually always been a writer.  When I was in the 4th grade my teacher told my parents that I need a journal because I have so much in my head that I should be putting down on paper.
  • What is your work schedule like when you are writing?  It is ever changing because I’m also a wife and mom.
  • How long does it take to write a book? (if you’ve written one -published or non)  It depends on the book. My husband and I wrote two books together prior to this book and they took about 9 months to write. Our newest book is a children’s book called I love masala me and it took 4 months.
  • Do you have suggestions on how to become a better writer?  Read and write everyday.
  • What challenges do you come across when writing/creating your story?  With our children’s book, I love masala me. I had to rely on my husband to make sure the Hindi was accurate because it is a bilingual children’s book too.
  • What do you think makes a good story?  A good story has an exciting opening, a fantastic plot, great character development, and a meaningful ending.
  • What does your family think of your writing? They love it.
  • Do you see writing as a career? I believe writing is a career for many.
  • Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers? 

Join us at  We hope you love our newest multicultural children’s picture book called I love masala me. It has been a labor of love to create a picture book for multicultural and bilingual/multilingual families. Find our book on amazon in paperback format.

It is also available for pre-order on kindle

Connect with us at Follow us on Instagram and Pinterest @growingupguptas, on Twitter @growingupgupta, and on facebook @growingupguptablog

Journeys We All Must Take One: Author Nina Norstrom

I’ve opened the slot for FREE Publicity this month to honour our effort in writing tirelessly during the NaNoWriMo. As you know, I absolutely love reading non-fiction books, and today I am honoured to feature author Nina Norstorm who writes fearlessly about her very own life experience.

If you’d like to showcase your NaNo project, sign up using the link above and send us the following details along in the Genre(s) you write section:

Share your story by adding these details below:

  • What you write.
  • Why you write.
  • What you intend to achieve by writing.

About the author: (For more details, visit Nina Norstrom)

I am the writer and author of the literary creations, Not a Blueprint It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter / A Journey Through Toxic Relationships and Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall . . . Where Does My Self-Love Fall? / A Success Guide to Replace Toxicity with Love.  It is through those works I’m able to empower and enlighten others on wellness lifestyles.  In a million years, I wouldn’t have imagined or dreamed of being a published author with non-fiction and self-help genres (under my name).  In actuality, journaling became a necessity for several reasons.  It’s a fact writing can be cathartic! What better source to give credence to its statement than Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.

Whether you know it or not, I’m not one who loves to embrace a camera.  Of course, that’s why one will hardly ever find my facial image anywhere on social media.  If connecting face-to-face, I can readily be identified.  I’ll be the one wearing a hat and rarely seen without it.  When having an opened interview on the screen, I’ll wear my special hat . . . the one with its black, long, dark netted veil.  I’ve hidden behind the veil ‘cause it symbolizes and presents a statement for thousands and millions of Americans ─ who still live in that dark place.  This dark space is where I too once resided for over a decade.  It represents the voiceless; those who are captured in toxic relationships but don’t speak out.  It represents relationships that need to be unmasked to determine whether it’s healthy or unhealthy.  We won’t know what or who is behind the mask until it’s unveiled . . . people; diseases; emotions; feelings; drugs; work environments; sex-offenders; sex-traffickers; sex-abusers; and the list goes on.

As an author and avid reader (myself), I favor writing titles that are on
non-fiction and self-help genres. I not only embrace those literary
topics, I love reading these amazing genres from other writers.

I started writing for several reasons. I’ll share only two of those . . .

1) The writing helped to break through the barriers and release lots
of built-up toxicity. During the process, there was nothing more rewarding
and comforting than writing about the events and pain. Although life tends
to move fast, we should not brush (no) rush through it. The experiences of
our journey are well-worth embracing and exploring. There is much to be
learned from the lessons we gain along the way.

2) Journaling was the one thing I had to relieve the rawness of pain,
nurture my wounds, and escape that tunnel of darkness I lived in. When I
was journaling, it was so therapeutic and became a safe haven. Writing
therapy helped to understand those dysfunctional relationships and define
where I was in life.

Moreover, it about peeling off the layers of “self” ─ while uncovering who
I truly was ─ and learning what self-care is all about.

My level of achievement was to acknowledge, we all are storytellers. And
what better way to release it then through relatable candor. I wanted my
creations and its message to resonate with readers ‘cause they identify
with reality. To garner readership, I wrote in a way I could connect the
story to readers’ interest; and even the hard-core painful truth brings to
light principles. Those principles were the many lessons readers would
gain from the story. Writing vividly was extremely important for me to
ensure sensory details were a part of the pieces; whereas, readers could
personally experience the varied moments. Through it all, it was my
intention that readers have an educational and enriching experience. Most
importantly, know that no one walks alone.

Author Interview with H.K Belvedere

H.K Belvedere

H.K. Belvedere is an author from the United Kingdom. He became interested in writing towards his late twenties but felt he was not quite ready to attempt his own novel. After some deep research and soul searching, he set about writing his debut novel, Beyond the Blue Girl.

  • Where are you from? – The United Kingdom.
  • Why do you write?  – To release inner demons and enlighten the public
  • What do you write about? – Issues that others can’t or simply won’t entertain
  • Do you have a specific writing style? – Dark, cynical, ruthless and direct.
  • What are obstacles that come in the way of writing? – None, only my mind
  • What’s the most memorable thing asked/said by a reader about your work? – This is too deep & how do you know that?
  • How long have you been writing? – 1 year seriously, maybe 2. Who counts?
  •  When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer? – When I could not hold in these thoughts any longer. Around October 2017.
  • What is your work schedule like when you are writing? – Spontaneous.
  • What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? – The ability to be so sarcastic & vile yet truthful
  • How long does it take to write a book? (if you’ve written one -published or non) – 1 year for my debut Novel “Beyond The Blue Girl”
  • Do you have suggestions on how to become a better writer? – Read more
  • What challenges do you come across when writing/creating your story? – My own mind and unclean entities that distract me from my art.
  • What do you think makes a good story? – Engaging the raw emotions, getting into the readers mind in a swift and callous fashion.
  • What does your family think of your writing? – Outraged in public, delighted in private.
  • Do you see writing as a career? – Yes, a very lucrative one!
  • Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers? – Stop looking for comfort blankets, start reading “Beyond The Blue Girl” By H.K. Belvedere.
  • When did you first consider yourself a writer? – March 2019 (officially)

Find H.K Belvedere’s book on Amazon and follow the author on social media below.

Twitter – @HKBelvedere

Beyond the Blue Girl

Barnes & Noble –

Waterstones –

Upcoming Live Interview with Author Brian C. Dobbs Who Encourages “cultural shift”

Brian C. Dobbs

Catch the Live interview with Brian HERE at 8PM CST 24th October 2019

Brian C. Dobbs encourages “cultural shift” in new personal development book – Uniquely Called

Dynamic speaker, minister and business coach releases his latest book, where he aims to help readers trigger life-changing emotions and actions

Brian C. Dobbs is known for his unique combination of faith, personal progression, and professional development to create tremendous growth toward powerful, substantial results. In a similar vein and in line with his goals of helping as many people as possible to discover their calling and reach their full potential, Brian just released a new book titled “Uniquely Called.”

The world is usually quick to celebrate the achievements of people who have excelled on different grounds. While some people know and appreciate the struggles of the successful ones, others are not particularly aware of their exploits. However, while millions of people can also achieve amazing feats by simply identifying their calling and sticking to it, many people do not have an idea of how to forge ahead. This is where Brian C. Dobbs seeks to inspire readers to take the right actions that will spur them to success.

“Uniquely Called” has been described as a “thrilling journey,” chronicling the challenges, obstacles, and peak-and-valley moments of people that have realized their calling and made the best of their time on earth. The book offers a captivating insight into the lives of different characters and how they were able to go against all odds to achieve their live goals.

The author of the book, Brian C. Dobbs, aims to touch the lives of readers while ultimately leading to a shift in culture to create a better place for others. Over the years, he has been featured on different industry platforms, using his wealth of experience and knowledge to motivate and inspire countless people to greatness. Brian is looking to continue his work of literally speaking greatness into individuals across the globe.

For more information about Uniquely Called and other work by Brian C. Dobbs, please visit – Brian is also available across several social media platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Brian C. Dobbs

Brian C. Dobbs is a dynamic speaker, minister and business coach who is popular for speaking and coaching professionals, corporations, churches and organizations on the importance of reaching success through relationship building and identifying one’s personal brand. Through public speaking and business coaching, Brian guides teams and individuals on a journey where they first find their purpose and then determine how to utilize it to their fullest advantage.

Media Contact

Company: Brian C Dobbs Training
Contact: Brian Dobbs
Phone: 214.934.0559
City: Frisco
State: Texas
Country: USA

Adaptable, Adventurous, Sensitive, Ferocious & Extroverted Author: An Interview with Jennifer G. Edelson

Jennifer G. Edelson

Jennifer G. Edelson is a writer, trained artist, former attorney, pizza lover, and hard-core Bollywood fan. She has a BFA in Sculpture and a J.D. in law, and has taught both creative writing and legal research and writing at several fine institutions, including the University of Minnesota. Originally a California native, she currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, kids, and dog, Hubble after surviving twenty-plus years in the Minnesota tundra (but still considers Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, and Santa Fe all home). Other than writing, Jennifer loves hiking, traveling, Albert Camus, Dr. Seuss, dark chocolate, drinking copious amounts of coffee, exploring mysterious places, and meeting new people–if you’re human (or otherwise), odds are she’ll probably love you.

Describe yourself in five words

Adaptable.  Adventurous.  Sensitive.  Ferocious.  Extroverted. 

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? 

I think because I come from a highly educated family and have a BFA and a law degree, people are often really to surprised to find out I didn’t have a traditional education. I dropped out of high school in tenth grade after being kicked out of a few to many high schools and really floundered for a few years.  I was a difficult teenager.  As in really, really, really difficult.  I was also super sensitive.  Like many teens, I felt misunderstood, and alienated, and just really lonely in this ‘who am I really, what’s the meaning of life’ way. Because of that, I spent way too much time looking for ‘answers’ and ignoring consequences. There’s this quote by Albert Camus that goes: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Though I take it with a grain of salt, I’ve also taken it to heart, so though I still spend a good amount of time thinking about meaning, I don’t let it interfere with having a productive meaningful existence. Still, the stuff that’s lingered really informs my writing. It’s also why I love writing in the YA genre. Most adults don’t give kids and teens enough credit for being the smart, savvy, sensitive, and super creative people they truly are. I acknowledge that, and like writing stories that both resonates with them AND respects those feelings.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? 

In the past I’ve tried everything from hard-core psychoanalysis to psychotropic and psychiatric meds.  But I find overall, that time, lots of magical thinking, exercise and a bit of journaling seems to do the trick.  Perspective is also really helpful. 

What scares you the most? 

My super personal answer would require me to dig deep, and that would take pages to answer, so how about I just stick with something little less philosophical . . . .

drowning, suffocating, or being buried alive top my list.

What makes you happiest? 

Spending time with family, writing, traveling, feeling unbound and being outdoors.

 Why do you write? 

Other than that I love it?  I wish I had some deep answer for you, but the truth is, for me writing is mostly about escapism. I can’t live the thousand different lives I’d love to, or travel the world, or be an astrophysicist or spy, so I write to get away and appease my own curiosity and wanderlust. I get lost in myself when I write, so it also satisfies all that romantic and adventurous yearning. Though I also get A LOT out of imagining that my writing touches other people. I love humans and am all about connecting on fundamental levels.

Have you always enjoyed writing? 

I have.  I don’t remember I time when I didn’t write.  I wrote tons of poems and stories in elementary school, and even (very bad) screenplays.  During high school, I wrote music and film reviews for my high school paper.  Throughout lower school, college, and law school I wrote poems, commentary, policy and review articles, and short stories.  I’ve always written, and I’ve always loved writing, but until the last few years or so, I never really thought of myself as a ‘real’ writer. ‘Real’ writers were like unicorns or UFO’s; I suspected they existed but also knew I’d never be invited to the party.  I guess you could say it took some time for me to start taking myself as a writer seriously.

What motivates you to write? 

Sheer unadulterated love and a driving need to escape myself and reality once in a while 😉

What writing are you most proud of? 

I won first place in our city paper’s fiction contest (The Santa Fe Reporter) the last two years in a row.  I was both embarrassed and proud of that.  Mostly because the first year I entered I’d never written a short story before.  I’m long winded, so writing books have always been more of my thing.  But I really enjoyed the challenge the contest presented and winning reinforced this idea I have that sometimes, when in doubt, I just have to leap.

What books did you love growing up? 

As a kid, I loved Dr. Seuss and Judy Blume and Lois Lowry, and anything that dealt with the paranormal.  I remember really loving books like ‘Island of The Blue Dolphins’ and ‘Clan of the Cavebear.’  In my teens I read a lot of classics by authors like Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Austin, and the Brontes, but I also adored Stephen King.  I’m such a reader it’s hard to pinpoint what I loved best though, because I pretty much read everything.  I’m a little more selective now, and much shorter on time, so as an adult I have distinct favorites; but when I was a kid, the sky was the limit!

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? 

I grew up in Los Angeles at a time when Los Angeles still felt really iconic.  There’s no doubt that the city’s vibe informed a lot of my earlier writing.  I had a lot of angst as a teen and L.A. definitely fed that; it’s absolutely  thematic in my earlier writing especially.  I live in New Mexico now after spending some years in the Tundra (aka Minnesota) and admit that New Mexico 100% affects my writing.  People call New Mexico the land of enchantment, which is pretty apt.  Everything about it makes me want to write these wild, whimsical and unbridled stories.  My latest book, Between Wild and Ruin initially came about because I fell in love with the Glorieta Pass and the Pecos Pueblo in Northern New Mexico — which are both magical places — after exploring the area.  I’m a place-centric person, and often fall for scenery, land, and the feel of a location, and end up wanting to write novels about an area long before I figure out the plot or story.  In that way, my story’s setting is often as much a character as the people, which is definitely the case in Between Wild and Ruin

 How did you develop your writing?

Lots of reading.  Lots of practice.  I just never stop writing.  Training and a passion for it really does make a difference.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? 

The writing part is usually the easiest part for me.  I love writing with a boundless passion so for the most part it comes easy.  Publishing takes perseverance but I hate the word ‘no’ so though the road at times has been bumpy, the fight usually motivates me.  Marketing though is a different beast.  It takes a lot of energy and I find it tends to suck up my creative mojo so that it’s harder to write and promote my work at the same time.  There’s a learning curve there I’m still trying to figure out.  The surprising thing about publishing that a lot of new writers don’t get, is that it’s really hard work.  Writing your book is only a 1/3 of the equation.  Publishing and promoting are entirely different beasts

 What else do you do, other than write? 

“What don’t I do? (she giggles nervously).”  I’m married to someone who’s out of town for work a lot and have two sons, one in college and one who’s a junior in high school, so they keep me pretty busy.  I also have a whole host of hobbies and legal editorial work to attend to.  I run a fairly large social group here in Santa Fe as well as a pretty awesome writing group, so I plan a lot of social events and outings.  And I love being outdoors, which means since I live in New Mexico, I get out a lot to hike and explore.  I’m all about adventure especially.  It fuels my writing.  In general, I also really enjoy cooking, history, research, nerdy sci-fi stuff, movies and people . . . honestly, it’s virtually impossible to bore me and I secretly sometimes wish I was just less interested in the world.  I really tire myself out sometimes.  Which is both a blessing and curse.

 What other jobs have you had in your life? 

My undergraduate major was a BFA in sculpture so I’m a trained artist.  Unfortunately, like a lot of artists, the paying gig part wasn’t that great, so I went on to law school afterwards.  I clerked for a judge for a few years out of law school and then practiced law for a few years after that, but still worked with glass and metal art on the side.  And I taught legal research and writing at the University of Minnesota Law school.  After I left my law practice altogether, I went back to art, predominately working with glass.  For a time I showed my art at shows and select galleries.  I also had a side business making and selling gourmet organic candy.  I still do a bit of legal editing and intend to go back to my glass work, but these days I mostly just write fulltime.

If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? 

That’s a really hard question to answer because I love learning and find almost everything interesting.  My dream studies, I guess, would include astrophysics, marine biology, museum curator, intelligence work, forensics, and archeology.  But if I had to make a list, I could easily think of another twenty things I wouldn’t mind studying.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Santa Monica, Rome, Auckland, Tokyo, in any quiet tropical costal area, or here in Santa Fe.

 How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk? 

I’m pretty boring.  I write when I want to (and I always want to) and lack any particular routines.  Unlike a lot of authors, I don’t outline, or have special rituals, or writing spaces.  I don’t feel married to any one method, space, or time, and write anywhere from 10 am to 3 am depending on my energy levels and mood.  I write on my laptop pretty much anywhere there’s room for me to open it.  I’m as likely to write sitting in my car in a parking lot while I’m waiting for my kid, as I am to write at my bike-desk at home, or at a coffee shop, or in bed at three in the morning.  Likewise, I can write almost anywhere as long as it’s not too noisy. 

How much sleep do you need to be your best? 

About 8 hours.  If I don’t set an alarm, no matter when I go to bed, I usually wake up about 8 hours later.

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

Of all of your questions, this one might be the hardest for me to answer.  I’m not sure anymore.  I started writing just to do it; because I love it.  For the longest time I thought that was enough.  But after writing for so long I started to wonder what being a ‘real writer’ meant and whether I was one if I didn’t publish.  Once I got the ‘I can actually write’ part down, success started feeling more like it should also equal some kind of recognition.  But now that I’ve published and won awards, and still feel like a poser wrier at times, I think I’m reevaluating what success means once again.  It’s complicated.  And you’re right, I think it’s also very individual.  I can only speak for myself, but since I haven’t figured it out yet, I want to say check back in a few years.

Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?  

On its face at least, Between Wild and Ruin is a bit of a Beauty and the Beast story. I initially came up with characters that played with that idea, but really, they came up with themselves.  I do not outline my book characters first or give them backstories before writing or map out my plot like some authors do.  I kind of just write and see what comes of it.  In that way, my writing process is more organic, allowing my characters and the story to figure out who and what they are for themselves.

Between Wild and Ruin’s actual plot though, the short answer is that it initially evolved over a sleepless night. I’m an insomniac, and like a lot of writers, tell myself stories about things that interest me in order to turn off my mind and fall asleep. I hate to being boring, but plot-wise, this was one of them. The longer answer is a little more mystical and would probably take a couple of blog posts to explain.

Over all though, Between Wild and Ruin is a paranormal romance seeped in local folklore.  Set against a Northern New Mexico backdrop, the story is really a young adult coming of age epic that captures the wild and whimsical pulse of New Mexico through the eyes of teens Ruby Brooks, Angel Ruiz, and Ezra Lucero. The first book in the Wild and Ruin series, Between Wild and Ruin explores the time-tested credo ‘never judge a book by its cover’ through a paranormal lens, weaving Puebloan and Hispanic folklore and Southwest cultural narratives into tightly written, high-concept fiction ‘brimming with mystery, intrigue,’ and as Kirkus Reviews puts it, an “intriguing historical drama and an over-the top quadrangle romance.”    

Here’s copy from the back of the book to sum it up:

Truth, like love, isn’t always obvious.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Brooks has never had a boyfriend. After moving to small-town La Luna, New Mexico following her mother’s untimely death, boys aren’t even on her radar. Ruby just wants to forget the last horrible year and blend in. But when she discovers an ancient pueblo ruin in the forest behind her house, and meets Ezra, a bitter recluse whose once-perfect face was destroyed in an accident he won’t talk about; Angel, La Luna’s handsome sheriff’s deputy, and Leo, a stranger who only appears near the ruin, Ruby finds herself teetering between love, mystery, and other worlds. What happened to Ezra’s face? And why is she so attracted to the one boy in town everyone despises? As Ruby unravels her own connections to both Ezra and the pueblo ruin, she’ll learn surfaces are deceiving. Especially in the heart of New Mexico, where spirits and legends aren’t always just campfire stories.

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask? 

I would invite Albert Camus, Dr. Seuss, and Amelia Earhart.  That would be the best most fascinating dinner party ever, but I’d also worry myself into a tailspin.  I’d be so tongue-tied with awe, I imagine I’d be tripping over myself just to say something witty and intelligible.   

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax? 

What is this word ‘relax?’

Who are your writing influences

My writing influences vary. I read A LOT, especially in the genre I most often write in, which is Young Adult fiction. But I’ve been in love with Albert Camus since college. His work inspires me; his writing, both his prose and the subjects he writes about, challenge me to examine meaning, to dig deeper when I write and when I interact with people. Vladimir Nabokov, Brett Easton Ellis, Heidi Julavits, Phillip Roth, and Chuck Palahniuk are also big writing influences, for many diverse, weird, and divergent reasons. Deeply flawed characters that still manage to capture and hold a reader’s interest, and stories that challenge notions of identity particularly interest me.

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

I’m not sure I’m trying to communicate a message as much as a feeling.  That exciting, sometimes breathless moment that comes from experiencing ‘firsts’ and facing the unknown.  Of connecting over unexpected emotions, and backgrounds, and alliances, not to mention the rollercoaster that comes with being in love. A few reviewers mentioned how sensory and atmospheric Between Wild and Ruin’s writing is, that they could see, smell, and hear everything as they read, and that because of it, were right there in the Glorieta pass with Ruby throughout the story. I agree and hope readers find themselves immersed in a story that wholly transports them both emotionally and intellectually to the heart of La Luna, New Mexico and into Ruby’s unique world. But if people just walked away feeling like they’d spent a few fun hours reading something enjoyable — if all the book is for people is super effective escapism — I’d still be really happy.

Between Wild and Ruin

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