1. What inspired you to write?
I grew up in a family of writers and was drawn to drama at an early age. After majoring in drama in college, I changed to journalism, and from there went on to fiction. The transition from interpreting characters on the stage to creating characters on the page was a natural one for me.
2. What is the first thing you do when you start a new writing project?
Figure out the plot as much as possible. I know the premise. Then I’ll figure out the major twists and the ending. I don’t always know how I’m going to get from one point to the next. These become clear as I write. Of course, I also may have to do some preliminary research. Depends on the story.
3. Do you have any unpublished novels?
No. Although it took me 10 years of learning to write fiction before I started to sell, once I did, everything I’d worked on sold.
4. What is your main goal when writing a novel?
To live up to my Seatbelt Suspense® brand: fast-paced, character-driven suspense with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. My readers expect this of me. It’s not easy to continue to deliver in fresh ways.
5. What is your perfect writing day?
My perfect writing day would be whipping out 5000 words in 3 hours without an ounce of trouble. Ain’t never gonna happen.
6. What is your reaction and answer when people say that fiction is useless and there is nothing to learn from it?
My gut reaction would be that this is a statement made out of ignorance about the issue. But I wouldn’t say that. I would respond that a reader’s guard is down when he/she is reading for entertainment. A story can pack a punch of meaning, and the reader can come away with a better understanding of some issue. Also, many people won’t pick up a nonfiction book on some topic but will read a novel for entertainment-and again, come away having learned something. And stories stick in people’s memories. This is why preachers always use illustrations in their sermons. They bring the point home. They strike at the emotions of people, rather than just the intellect. When the emotions are struck, people are struck.
7. What hobbies do you enjoy?
Reading, jogging. Hanging out with my family.
8. Who are your favorite authors?
I’ve enjoyed Dean Koontz over the years for his characterization and his facility with language. I’ve also enjoyed Anne Rivers Siddons for her characterization and vocabulary. But I read widely and often try authors new to me.
9.. What is your favorite book or series that you have written?
I simply can’t answer this. All my books are dear to me for one reason or another. (By the way, you can read about all my books, including the first chapters on my web site.)
10. What is your favorite thing about writing?
Having written. :] Fact is, writing is very hard for me. A lot of the time in the midst of it I don’t find it very enjoyable. But I sure like turning in a book!
11. What is your favorite point of view and why?
In third person I would have to say it’s close third. Close third puts the reader firmly in the head of the character. The only more intimate POV is first. I enjoy using first also. But POV is never something I worry about when plotting a book. I plot, then as I start to write, the correct POV for that story becomes clear. Numerous times I’ve started out in close third, and then have gone, “Wait a minute—the last two pages were written in first! How did I do that?” Then I’ll go back and fix it. And then—I’ll do it again. Clearly the character is telling me she wants to tell the story in first. So I switch. The character always knows.
12. What is your favorite genre to read?
Suspense. Of course. :]
13. How long does it take you to write a novel?
Three months if I have to. I love to take 5. Five months means less word count per day. In general I turn in a book every 7 months. This allows me time in between books to do all the other projects that have been shoved aside in the heat of writing. One thing about being a full-time author—it’s like running your own business. There are many things that need to be done to run that business other than writing—marketing, traveling for publicity, teaching at writers conferences, dealing with agent and editor, etc.
14. Do you have any writing projects in the works at the moment?
Always, as I’m always writing to contract. Over the Edge, my novel about Lyme disease, comes out May 1. Meanwhile at the end of January I turned in Gone to Ground, my next novel that will release in May 2012. Now I must start my next novel, Double Blind, which will release in September 2012.