I’m an Illinois native who has long since adopted Virginia as my home. I fell in love with history and fiction as soon as I was able to read. I have a degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona, and once toyed with the idea of a career in forensic anthropology. When I’m not researching or writing, I’m often hiking with my Belgian sheepdogs, Saber (named after the dog in my book Whispers from the Grave) and Phoebe.
What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
Whispers Through Time, which is the sequel to Whispers from the Grave, a Civil War ghost story. In WTT, seven-year-old Sarah witnesses the murder of her father. After that, she refuses to speak and her only communication is through drawings. That is, until she reveals that her father still reads to her. Are the ghostly whispers her imagination, or can she really speak to the dead?
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve been writing–forever–as a hobby. Writing is in my blood. I had encouragement from my teachers. In fact, Whispers Through Time was dedicated to my 7th grade teacher, who I’m still friends with. On the professional level, I’ve been writing for about ten years.
How do you do research for your books?
Because I write fiction with historical elements, I spend a lot of time researching the era that I’m writing about. This includes reading both primary and secondary sources. Since I write about where I live, I visit the historical areas to learn the lay of the land. I also have worn period clothing to get the feel of what it was like to dress in such a manner.
Our modern preconceptions are often incorrect about what the garments were really like.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I recently finished my next book, The Dreaming: Walks through Mist. It’s about a 17th-century witch (Virginia, not Salem). Yes, Virginia had witch trials. In fact, the state has the dubious honor of being the first on the North American continent to hold such a trial. My character isn’t really a witch, but a cunning woman. The cunning folk were essentially the shamans of European society at the time. With my degree in anthropology, I’ve always been intrigued by the shamans. The time period and setting also has the added dimension of the Indians, who are also often overlooked in history. Scheduled release is January 2011.
Aside from fiction, do you do other types of writing as well? If so, what is some of the other writing you’ve done?
I’ve written a number of articles that have come from my research for writing fiction, such as contraception during the Civil War era, witch trials of Virginia, history of the Southern dialect, etc. I’ve also written articles about seizures in Belgian sheepdogs, and I’m currently researching my first nonfiction title about rape during the Civil War.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
The most important rule in novel writing is to forget the rules. Beginning writers may misconstrue this sentiment as a free for all. It’s not. Every writer needs to learn the rules (grammatical, point of view, conflict, etc.) in order to break them, but I honestly believe a rule book on how a novel should be written hurts artistry.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?