Canadian born and bred, and a lifelong dreamer, I began writing at an early age and can’t recall a time when I wasn’t creating in some artistic form. My life has had several on-going love affairs that shape much of what I write, the American West, Victorian England, cowboys, a passion for pirates, Greek Gods, and Ancient Egypt. The other endless love affair in my life is Italia and all its magic, beauty, and dazzling culture. That passion spills into all aspects of my life.
My first major fantasy novel is AS FATE DECREES. (Available in bookstores everywhere, and on Amazon’s international sites.) The novel relies heavily on Greek Mythology, and is set in Ancient Greece and modern Athens. If you enjoy a tale of Gods, Destiny, and the battles of an Eternal Champion, this is the book for you! Not surprisingly, there’s a touch of romance throughout, of course! A visit to my website will show the diversity of what is currently available, and the mixing of genres and styles that will be employed in many up-coming projects as well. The Italian influence is in evidence with several of the more important works, as many people already know.
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How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newpaper?
All of the above… I never know where the ideas will come from. I listen to songs, lyrics give me ideas, I look at images and they speak very loudly. I’ve often written stories based on a picture I’ve seen somewhere. A couple of times I’ve dreamed complete stories, but that’s rare.
Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?
Mostly all I have to do is go away for an hour, listen to music, go for a walk, and I’m back on track. It helps to have the stories planned out in advance.
Who is your Yoda—your seasoned mentor?
Believe it or not, I don’t have one. The closest would be Lucy Monroe, who is recognized as one of the leading authors in romance today. She’s a wonderful and special lady, and a cherished friend. I admire her, love all her books, and she’s always been so supportive and encouraging. A truly amazing writer and person is Lucy.
What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?
Well, to be truthful, I’ve never attended a workshop. I think some people benefit greatly from them, especially in the early days of their writing careers. We all learn by leaps and bounds as the market changes, and for me, writing is something that comes naturally and easily to me. It always has. I believe there are natural writers and those who work hard at the craft, both are good, but realistically it does come easier to some than others. I’m blessed to be one of those to whom it comes with relative easy.
What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?
There are several key people. Actor friends who early on told me I had talent and should pursue writing. My junior high school teacher, Jacqueline Warlow who told me long before I ever suspected that I’d make a fine writer – she attended my first release party a few years ago, too. Wonderful English teacher, and a very good friend. Also, Lucy Monroe again, for believing in me always. The people at Amber Quill Press who worked with me as a professional for the first time, Karin Story and Trace Zaber in particular. They’ve all helped me achieve the dream of being a writer. Now, my fabulous editor at Ellora’s Cave, Jillian Bell – she’s a great editor, and very supportive, as well as a whole lot of fun!
Have you ever used songs for inspiration?
Many times. In fact my newest novel borrows it’s title from a song by my Italian friend Riccardo Foresi, it’s called Grande Amore, a song Riccardo wrote and recorded about a year and a half ago. Lyrics can contain entire stories if you listen to the right music! Another of my best-sellers was called Bella Signorina, again based on a song.
Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?
I always have music on when I work. Even now I’m listening to something, it’s called Jazz Wolf, and I love it. If I don’t want words intruding into my consciousness while I’m writing, I listen to wolf song, environmental sounds, instrumental stuff… but it’s always there. My muse can speak to me in the middle of anywhere, I don’t need to have silence or be in the mood. I’ve reached that wonderful place where I can work anywhere, anytime, I just have to open the notebook and start if there’s no computer.
Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?
Always. It’s simply far TOO easy to be influenced and commit inadvertent plagiarism if you read in the genre you’re writing in. If I’m writing paranormal, I read historical… if I’m writing historical, I read contemporary… It’s not work the potential disaster if you have a creative mind that draws from everything it filters!
What is your process from idea to first draft?
First, I sit down and write out a point form outline. This is really necessary for the novels and complicated plots. Once I have a solid start to finish outline, I start working on the story. First draft is then polished and edited by me. From there, proofreaders who also edit – then it’s submitted. I’ve never received a manuscript back that I wasn’t able to complete edits on within a few hours, so it’s all a great process!
Have you ever given assistance to a struggling new writer? Has another writer ever come to your aide? How?
I make it a habit to help new authors as much as I can. No one really helped me out, I had to learn as I went along, and anyone in this business knows it’s NOT easy at any stage. So, I really do try to help new people, even if it’s just to promote for them, and provide them with the lists I make of groups and sites that can help them. I have them all in a document that I offer anyone who wants it.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
Apart from still being here? :) Seriously, I think in real terms, the most successful accomplishment at this stage is getting my first major novel (As Fate Decrees) published by one of the biggest publishers in Canada. It was a fantasy, based on Greek Mythology, and six months after release it was on the final ballor for a major fantasy award! Reviews have been amazing, and it’s being sold all over the world, so I’m always in awe of that!
If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?
Absolutely. I’d give a huge chunk of money to the foundations that are helping to fund the rebuilding of the towns surrounding L’Aquila in Italy. Entire villages and towns were leveled by the 2009 earthquake there, and it’s been all but forgotten. Riccardo and I wrote an article about this to raise awareness last year, and at that time there were still 18,000+ people without homes. It’s tragic. The article is on my new website, extras page.
What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?
Write, don’t just talk about it. And, this is a biggie I see with a lot of would-be writers, once you’ve completed a story, move on… your work will improve more with each story/book, it’ll actually be like the record of a journey in some ways, so don’t keep revisiting what’s already been done. Take what you’ve learned and use it with the next book, otherwise you’ll never have a next book. I cringe when I look at my first works, and I know I’d write them better now, but when they were written, they were done with the knowledge I had then. It’s a journey, it never ends, and you never stop learning… embrace it and enjoy it!
If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be? What do you admire about this animal? Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal? If so, what are they?
Wolf. Loyal, dedicated, intelligent, protective, social, playful, faithful…I have often said that wolves are among the Creator’s finest work. I’d like to think I possess a few of those wonderful traits, but you’d have to ask others if I do.
If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?
Law, Design (Fashion), Cooking.
If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?
I’d spend at least a year in Italy, exploring the small towns, visiting the museums, living in the place that for my heart is the most beautiful place on the planet, and the richest in culture and history.
What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?
First and foremost a good hero has to be strong, and honourable. He needs to be intelligent and dedicated to his personal code of honour and ethics. When he meets the heroine, he has to be faithful to her. Those same traits have to exist within a good heroine, too. The hero has to be masculine and secure, and the heroine should enjoy being female, and be secure and confident in her own strengths. Great chemistry is natural when you have characters who like themselves as much as they like each other.
If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?
There would be no more hunger/poverty, and we would live in a world where ALL people were equal and accepted.
If could have a super power for a day, what would it be? Why?
I think it would be rather cool to control the weather, don’t you? Storm, in the X-Men movies. Imagine the destruction you could stop if you could control weather? Would be awesome!
Thanks so much for having me here as your guest, Tina! It’s been great fun! Blessings to all… and thanks for chatting with me!