Genre: Usually I write fantasy, but my latest is an LGBTQ+ romance
Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
It’s a long story. When I was a teenager, I had a story idea about a guy named Tobey who inherits a Victorian-era mansion and fills it up with a family he creates while fixing it up. A few years ago, I was tinkering with the idea of rekindling it, and at one point I thought, “Emma is not working for me. What if we replace her with an Emmett?” And everything seemed to fall into place, like Tobey and Emmett had been just waiting for me to realize they belonged together.
Q2: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
Headphones. Half the time I’m not even listening to anything, but they signal to my brain that I’m ready to get down to business—and helps block out the sounds of the children. Also coffee. Always coffee.
Q3: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?
I’ve met a few famous authors, and the one with whom I spent the most time was part of the writing duo K.A. Applegate of the Animorphs series. He was really nice and encouraged me to continue in my writing. I’d love to spend a day discussing theology, philosophy, and writing style with C.S. Lewis, but alas, he is no longer part of this world.
Q4: What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
I think I’d have to say characterization and character development. There’s nothing more important than an author understanding their characters’ (and not just their main ones) motivations and goals. A bad or mediocre plot can be worth getting through if I enjoy the characters or relate to them. On the converse, even if a plot has great potential, bland characters will ruin it. The greatest compliment I can receive is a reader telling me they loved my character(s).
Q5: What are common traps for new authors?
A lot of mistakes new authors make come down to one big thing: not trusting their readers. Authors will over explain and tell with adverbs, or they use too many dialogue tags, or they use internal monologue instead of actions. You need to trust that your reader understands what is going on without laying everything out for them.
Q6: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?
Stephen King said in On Writing, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” I write my books for myself first, and for the readers second. The times when I don’t convince myself to do that are the times I really struggle to finish the story.
Q7: How do you come up with character names for your stories?
Most of my characters arrive in my brain with a name. The ones that don’t I have to spend hours scouring baby name websites for something that means something important or comes from a certain culture. They’re almost always unusual and unpopular names.
Q8: At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?
At night after the kids are in bed.
Q9: What are you working on now?
Thanks for asking, I’m really excited about my current WIP. It’s titled Clouds of Coal and Magic, and it’s a steampunk time-travel fantasy!
Q10: What are you currently reading?
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.Making Room by Jessie Sanders is available on August 2nd, 2022. Keep reading for a sneak peek:
“Stay here, Benny,” Emmett said, more forcefully than usual. He opened the front door and closed it behind him.
Tobey slammed his truck door closed and gave an awkward wave. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“What are you doing here?” Emmett asked, stepping off the porch and outside the ring of light.
“I wanted to apologize about this afternoon. I was rude, and I brushed you off. And I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.”
Emmett didn’t know what to say. He’d never heard a grown man apologizing, least of all to him. He crossed his arms.
“It’s just when it comes to Cosmo, sometimes I get…” Tobey held his hands up to his eyes to indicate tunnel vision. “You know?”
“You drove ten miles of dark back roads to say sorry for rushing your son to the hospital?”
“Because I don’t have your phone number.”
“Oh.” Emmett hugged himself tighter. “Well, it’s all good.”
The crickets chirped loudly.
“Well, uh, I need to get back to work. So if you’ll excuse me…”
“Work?” Tobey asked.
“Yeah. I’ll be up all night compiling code.”
“Who’s watching Benny and Kate?”
“Benny can take care of herself, mostly.”
“No. Nope. No.” Tobey shook his head. “Cosmo, come on, we have more work to do.”
“Yay,” came the fatigued voice of Cosmo from inside the truck.
“Wait, what are you doing?” Emmett asked as Tobey pushed past him.
“Taking care of your kids so you can get your work done,” Tobey said.
“No, you can’t do that,” Emmett said. “I’ve got it.”
“Listen, Em,” Tobey said, putting his hand on Emmett’s shoulder. “I’m a single parent too. I know it’s hard. Accept help when people offer it, all right?”
Emmett grimaced. “Okay, fine. But just until Kate goes to bed. I can handle it after that. Really.”
Tobey nodded and pushed past him into the house. Cosmo slouched behind.
Emmett heard the shriek of Benny noticing they were back. “Cosmo! Let me see! Did you get stitches?”
Hanging his head in shame, Emmett trudged to his bedroom and sat at his desk, his computer monitors waking up as he jostled the mouse. He tried to focus and get back to work; this code wouldn’t compile itself. But the touch of Tobey’s hand still burned on his shoulder.
Amazon Author Page