My most recent book, Universal Design for the Home: Great Looking, Great Living Design for All Ages, Abilities, and Circumstances, gathers a gold mine of practical guidelines, inspiring ideas, and information resources for the design of stylish homes that are safe and comfortable for all.
Tell us something about yourself.
Now running own editorial business in Washington, D.C., I have covered residential remodeling, construction, and design for decades as a magazine editor and contributor, and as the author of a dozen books for the trade and the general public.
I was the founding editor of Remodeling magazine, I’m senior contributing editor of Professional Remodeler magazine, and I have written for consumer outlets such as Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest magazines. I’ve won numerous editorial awards.
What inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago my friends wanted to build a universal design home – that is, one that is safe and accessible without looking institutional or “different.” To their surprise and mine, they had a devil of a time finding design and construction professionals and suppliers who were familiar with universal design concepts and products. Universal design is such a basic and important concept for people who want to age in place or raise children in bright, safe homes. I decided to do the research for readers, so that the process would be fun and exciting.
How did you choose the title?
My publisher and I wanted to include the key term universal design in the title to alert people that the book covers this important design area. We also wanted to make it clear that the book contains beautiful, versatile, adaptable designs for a wide range of people—young and old, short and tall, with or without mobility or health challenges.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I didn’t have trouble in that regard. My editor and publisher recognized universal design as an important subject, and they wanted to get the word out about it to homeowners. The main challenge was to find all the superb ideas and projects out there that deserved to be showcased in a book on universal design. I found that, by describing the types of ideas and problem-solving approaches that enhanced accessibility without sacrificing style, designers would say, “Oh, yes! I have this project” or “This design looks great and really helped our clients.” The designers had wonderful, creative projects to share; they just had not labeled them as universal design.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve known since grade school that this is what I wanted to do. After graduate school I went to work as the one assistant in the lifestyle section of a daily newspaper. That job gave me a great variety of experience and learning opportunities as reporter, writer, and editor. After that, I worked as a magazine editor for many years before shifting my focus to book writing.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I have learned to “read” my mood, energy, and concentration levels and to regulate my workday accordingly.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Most of my work is nonfiction, so this is not an issue.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I learned that it is productive and rewarding to conceive, plan, develop, and write a book on a subject I am passionate about.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Well, maybe I’d begin hatching a sequel in my head while writing the first book.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I most enjoy historical fiction and classics. For me, the writing has to be good, and the book must have substance, intelligence.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m thinking about it, but not writing one now.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
I would tell writers to be true to themselves – their interests, knowledge, abilities and the messages they want to share.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My book is written for homeowners; for designers and other professionals working in the area of residential design; and for the two of them to use together for brainstorming and planning.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?