(Les) Please introduce yourself, how long have you been writing and what kind of books have you written?
I like to say I started out as a reader … but then, I guess, most writers start that way.
I am a sixty-something mother of three sons and two grandchildren.
I have been married to an amazing man named Joe for forty-one years.
A degree in Performing Arts and English Education from Rowan University has helped me think about my characters in depth by placing myself in the character as I write.
I have been an avid reader of multiple genres since I learned to read. Maturity coupled with years of reading experience now fuel my imagination.
I love living in Strasburg, PA, USA, where I can frequently be seen walking my German Shepherd, Rin.
In the spring of 2015, my friend Jan asked me to join her and another neighbor in a small writing group. They both wanted to write memoirs and were practicing by writing short (2-3 page) pieces using story starters. We met weekly and eventually were joined by another neighbor. Every time I read one of my pieces, the others were so encouraging.
“You’re so good at this you should write a book.”
So … one afternoon I came home from a meeting, sat down in front of my laptop, and started typing. Travis Illk was a seasoned world skipper; he had skipped the lines into and out of all seven worlds of the Ochen system for the better part of fifty years. The words flowed onto the screen as if they already existed somewhere and I was just recording them.
Thus began The Seven Words series; a Christian Epic Fantasy. This sentence was changed somewhat and moved to chapter 3, but still exists in the published version of The Sorcerer’s Bane. Once I started, it became impossible to stop. The Seven Words originally began as a trilogy but grew into the four-book series it is today as the story seemed to take on a life of its own. In addition to the four books of the series, I have published a short story continuing the tale of Rayne and his friends, and the sequel, A Weight of Reckoning.
(Les) How do you find time to write?
One of the benefits of being retired is time to write. Also having a super supportive husband helps.
(Les) Where do you write?
I turned the dining room into a library and that is where I write. I am blessed to have a beautiful view from my south-facing windows, so I set up my system (laptop, wireless wide screen, wireless keyboard and mouse) on an old desk I got from a consignment shop in front of the windows.
(Les) Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Read voraciously in your genre (especially authors who have a reputation for writing well). Speculative fiction (which is what I write) has so many sub-genres it’s important to understand the differences between them. For example: Space Opera has a whole different feel and voice than dystopian. Fairy tale re-writes are very popular now, but you need to understand the genre and how to appropriately switch up the story to make it fly. Magical realism is a whole other field because it must be set in the world as we know it but with subtle changes that must be believable even if fantastical.
Join an online writers’ group. Friend others who are writing in your genre. Go to conferences. Join a critique group. I’ve tried some of the larger groups online and if that works for you, use the experience. I know others who have found great support that way. For me personally, meeting regularly with just a few people is more productive.
Let your imagination soar. Write fast and furious; allow your story time to take off and grow. When it’s written, then take the time to edit slowly and carefully. Trying to edit while writing can plunge you into a never-ending cycle of re-writing without moving forward.
And—last but certainly not least—have fun with it. Take joy in the process of creation.
(Les) What is your passion?
Stories that inspire me. Characters who challenge me to be better than I am. When I watch or read—or even write—the story of a character who overcomes adversity with integrity and honesty, I get passionate about that story. A caring heart is most important. Despite facing obstacles that could destroy all hope and compassion, the character who squeezes my heart will never give up and continue to challenge evil and protect those who are weak. He or she draws me in and touches me on a deep level. So … yes … my passion is character driven stories. Action is necessary, and I do enjoy good action-packed stories. Action is important to drive the story arc forward, but I want to take on the identity of the character, immerse myself into that character so I can feel like a hero even if I’m just an armchair hero.
(Les) Do you have any other interests?
I have a German Shepherd Dog. Currently we are working on Nose Work Classes. Very fun and interesting. Watching him work is a joy. I also enjoy Christian Rock Music.
(Les) What is your latest book?
A Weight of Reckoning is the sequel to The Seven Words series. It picks up Rayne’s story three years after the events at the end of The Light Unbound, book 4 of the series.
(Les) Does it fit into any specific genre?
It is Epic Fantasy with Christian themes of redemption, forgiveness, and trust. Though the fact that it takes place sometime in the future on seven worlds joined by wormholes called Skipping Lines does give it a bit of a Science Fiction feel.
(Les) Who will enjoy your book?
Anyone who loves character-driven fantasy. Christians who enjoy finding themes of redemption, forgiveness and trust embedded in an exciting story, though I think anyone—Christian or not—can appreciate those themes. I was told authors should write what they like to read; I have worked to publish books that are exciting and characters who are compelling.
(Les) What sets your book apart?
A Weight of Reckoning, and all my books, are set apart by the characters themselves. Being a Christian writer, I tend to avoid sexual content and foul language. There is darkness in A Weight of Reckoning, even to the point of human sacrifice. And yet, the focus is not on the darkness or evil, but the way characters response to evil and move beyond the darkness.
(Les) How can readers find you?