Updated: Jan 8
Have you always been a writer?
No, but I have always loved reading. I have my mom’s ability to read fast, which makes reading an immersive experience. However, there were times in school that my writing was singled out. My elementary school English teacher asked me to read a paper at an assembly. I have a picture of me at the podium somewhere around my house.
My first career was in horticulture and floral design. It morphed into accounting, which is where I’ve stayed for over a decade. Adding romance author to the mix feels like finding the missing piece to a large puzzle!
What inspired you to start writing?
I was in a relationship that lacked a heart. From the outside, everything was there; from the inside, nothing. It took almost a decade of questioning myself, giving up, and telling myself I wasn’t allowed to do that before I accepted I was on the wrong path. It was a relief—to both of us— when I walked away for good. While I was still in it, I did everything I could to surround myself with the romance and comfort I was craving. After bingeing on romance novels and movies, I decided to write my own happily-ever-after. Enter, The Raven’s Call.
So, it would be accurate to say that there is a bit of you in the heroine, Victoria McKinley?
Yes. This is my first book and I can’t speak definitively for my future self, but I foresee writing female characters that have some part of me or my life experiences woven into their fabric.
What is the hardest part of writing a novel?
The writing part isn’t as hard as letting go of the finished project. I had no idea how vulnerable I would feel releasing something I created into the world. I had been on a roller coaster ride of starting and stopping projects over many years due to several major life events. They led to growth and internal development but caused a ton of external delays. I felt it made me look less credible as a person every time I began another project/job/relationship. So, finishing my book became a “See, I did it!” moment. It also created an instance on the couch where I couldn’t stop the tears. I realized then how important and how valuable a life skill it was to be able to drown out the voices of other people and do what was important to me.
Do you think the pandemic played a part in completing The Raven’s Call?
Without a doubt! I had already planned to finish my bachelor’s degree while staying home with my two-year-old when the pandemic hit, but the decision to finish my book sprung from needing a creative outlet. Instead of fighting the mandated time to stay inside, I used it to help me focus. When my twelve-year-old started online learning, it was a win-win. I got more time with my children while completing my goals!
What is one surprising thing about you that you wouldn’t mind sharing?
I almost dropped out of high school. My teen years weren’t the easiest and I transferred to a new school where I felt like an anomaly. I found my group of people and stopped going to class. My mom enrolled me in a school that turned everything around. I became a model student; senior class president (my school had two) and a member of several clubs. It also helped to have some fantastic teachers—shout out to you, Mrs. O’Dell!
What are some of your favorite movies, authors, and novels?
The movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (with Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen) and the television series (with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) were my first obsessions. Sense and Sensibility came next, followed by Emma, and Mansfield Park. I put them on repeat for days, weeks, and months. Nicholas Sparks movies were also a favorite. Those were the stories that kept me believing in love.
As school is winding down, I have more time to read. E-readers are my new(ish) friends. L.J. Shen is a writer I’ve picked up recently, as is Elyse Kelly. I’m a big fan of Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, and grew up reading: the late Dame Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland (Barbara Cartland), Stephen King, Anne Rice, Joseph Conrad, Henry David Thoreau, the Brontë sisters, and Dame Daphne du Maurier.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Back up your work onto something you can access from any device. I went through two computers while writing and both times were due to unexpected physical damage (moisture, being one.) Fortunately, I had backed up my work and didn’t have to start over.
Also, don’t sweat the process. I don’t mean just the physical writing process; I mean all of it. Deadlines, expectations, motivation (or lack of it), and just everyday life will come and go. The life events that “interrupt” can add so much to your story and how you tell it. At the same time, listen to your inner voice when it nudges you to jot down an idea, thought, or character. You never know when you’ll need it!