Your book sounds like a genre-bending read – where did your inspiration for it come from?
I wondered how ticked off dryads, mythical tree spirits, might be if I dropped them into the the modern world. But dryads in Greek myths are kind of wussy, always running away from lustful gods and turning into things, so I took it up a notch and made up my own more powerful group of magical people who are closely connected to nature.
The genre smash is my attempt at better defining the book. The term urban fantasy doesn’t tell you much: all it means is there’s a magical element, and it takes place in city. By eco-thriller, I mean that the book centers around the theme of environmental responsibility and then, I threw in a lot of action and life-threatening peril in the story–you know, to make it fun.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Magic, romance, friendship, wild animals, environmental destruction–all under the golden glow of the California sunshine–what more could you want?
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I am revising my first novel (Yes, ironically, The First is my second novel). It’s about a girl with an uncontrollable fire talent who gets abducted by a dragon.
Then I have a really scary ghost story in my mind that I need to get on paper, so I can stop thinking about it. It’s kind of creeping me out.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
Fairy tales. My mother read to me every night, but after she left and turned off the light, I’d still want more stories, so I started making up my own.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Seek out and learn to use criticism. Find people–not relatives, spouses or good friends–who will read your work and tell you honestly what they think. My writing group continues to help me really grow as a writer.
Which authors have influenced you most and how?
Two of my current heroes are Ursula Leguin and Margaret Atwood.
I love the way Ursula LeGuin uses fantasy and science fiction elements to get at larger issues in the “real world.” Plus she’s simply a great story teller. Margaret Atwood has a fantastic, sharp sense of humor, and she’s not afraid to write in any genre.
I can only walk in their shadows, but I strive to be like them by incorporating important issues in my stories while placing a premium on humor and story telling.
Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
Oh no, it’s too boring. Just cut to the montage of a typical working mom juggling caring for kids, editing for clients, housework, writing, errands, etc. Life is full. Some days I don’t get to actually sit down at the computer and write–fiction anyway. But I make a conscious effort to write in my head during every spare moment. That way when I do get screen time, I know what I want to say. It does make me a bit dreamy sometimes though, and I’ve been known to get on the wrong train and go several stops without noticing.
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….
The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente. Not that The First is like this book. It’s not. But I love fairy tales and Valente does something very unique in her book. I envy that fact that she got to spend her days writing in that imaginative world.