25 Questions (in no logical order)
Where have you lived and where would you live if money was no object (please limit it to Earth)?
I have lived “all over” the U.S., both because my husband served in the military when the military was going through base realignments and closures and because, growing up, my stepfather had sticky fingers, overdue debts, and warrants. Good thing you clarified “Earth” as a limitation because I’d want my own whitsun gravitational orb like there are in Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Memory of Whiteness.” So, with that scratched off the list of options, I’d live in Monterey, California, or in close vicinity thereto if I could afford the many attendant costs.
Weird factoid about your life?
As an embryo and, later, as a fetus, I was incarcerated in a Nevada jail for 7 months. One of my cellies (in the jail, not “in utero”) claimed she was a witch and that her male lover housed elsewhere in the jail was a vampire who astrally projected at night to sexually ravish her. What can I say but that it was 1969 and people dropped a lot of acid.
When did you first consider yourself a writer and when did you first submit for publication?
On both counts, I was about 22 or 23 and had moved to Tacoma based on my husband’s duty orders stationing him there (never move in advance based on duty orders!!!). That makes it 1992. I typed up some short stories at the Tacoma Public Library and submitted them to some small horror markets plus one dark fantasy sent to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s fantasy magazine. The small market mags folded before receiving my submission and MZB sent me a rejection letter almost as long as the story I submitted. (No, I did not keep it. My office wall is not papered with rejections and my cup is not filled with the tears of could have been acquisition editors. :D) I also submitted unillustrated picture books (i.e. picture book scripts) with only a nibble or two. When I decided I would go to grad school, I didn’t stop thinking of myself as a writer, but I did set digital fire to all the fiction I had written up to that point. I wouldn’t start writing or submitting again until 2004.
Yes and no. My husband has four cats. Together, we have a dog. Then it depends on if I can classify my husband as a pet? I also have a stuffed flamingo, stuffed Squishmallow elephant, a stuffed pink peep, and a stuffed mercorn (a unicorn/mermaid hybrid).
My husband and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary this year (2020). We have a son and a daughter-in-law. No grand babies to date.
What are the five books you love the most?
Night’s Daughter by Tanith Lee (includes Night’s Sorceries, which is a collection of short stories relevant, and sometimes critical, to Night’s Daughter); Neuromancer by William Gibson; The Stand by Stephen King; Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
If the rest of the books you write could only be in one genre, what would it be?
The impractical part of me says it would be Science Fiction, because science excites me and I wish I had more science-y people in my life so we could talk about … well, science, of course. The practical part of me says Romance because Romance is a big tent. A really, really, really big tent. Historical, contemporary, comedy, fantasy, paranormal, science and not only those sub-genres but the sub-genres of sub-genres, like vampires, witches, time travel, antebellum, Edwardian, Regency, Scottish Highlands, aliens, alternate universe, gaslight fantasy…
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Thick as Thieves by Natalie Merchant.
Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?
I tend to read early (post-release) reviews and long ones that come in later if I happen to notice. I do not reply to reviews left on the stores or the reviewer’s own home on the web, but I usually reply to comments left on my social media accounts.
Is writing your “day job,” and, if so, do you still enjoy writing?
Yep, it’s my day job and my boss says I’m a lazy employee. I still enjoy writing, but not as much as I did before it was my sole means of income. The way my brain works, I often feel like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets (the misanthrope part, not his OCD). I would write my characters as rational/analytical as I tend to be, but no one would read them then.
What’s your work day/writing process like?
Writing is my sole source of income (if we don’t count fact that my husband is gainfully employed), but my “work day” (derisive snort) and writing process don’t reflect that fact. I’m a pantser (as opposed to a plotter) who waits for ideas to come to her. I’ve tried the butt-in-chair, timed writing sessions and it NO LONGER works for me. It sort of worked before I had breast cancer, four related surgeries and six months of chemo, which was also before my rheumatoid arthritis got to the point of near crippling with only occasional and incomplete remissions. Now writing happens when it happens. So, basically, I get a kernel of an idea, sometimes it’s an end result I want to get to, sometimes it’s a character or situation to explore. A dream fragment can set it off. And I write from there. I almost always finish what I start, but might start and finish other things in between.
Did you go to college to become a writer?
I went to school to become a nurse (but didn’t because my reaction to other people’s blood and wounds is not as calm and level-headed as my reaction to my own), and then took enough credits to maybe be a psychologist or maybe a lit major but that turned into neither and it sucks that I had to take that statistics class with its polyquadratic binomial co-efficient this and that equations for fracking nothing. After undergrad, I went to law school twice (JD and post-doctorate). Law school requires a lot of writing with a lot of structured discipline and readers might be surprised to know just how many attorneys turn to writing, even leaving the practice of law for it.
If you could be good at one thing, and one thing only, what would it be and why?
Drawing/painting because it is a universal form of communication/expression. It’s also the ultimate short story/flash fiction form. :)
What do you think about books being turned into movies/television and is there one of your books you would like adapted?
I approve of both forms of storytelling. I think it’s great that we have so many outlets for both original works and adaptations in both forms. There are books I have tried to read (LOTR being one) and never would have finished but have enjoyed the movie adaptations very much. There are movies I’ve known were coming out (e.g. The Road) that I decided to read first (movie is really good, book is so much better in this particular case). Television series where I’ve started reading the books in the middle of the series because of impatience for weekly episode to arrive (Sharp Objects, The Expanse, Altered Carbon) and wildly enjoyed the stories in both formats. And series that have taken the story to a greater depth than the original (but still brilliant) book (eg Handmaid’s Tale). And this reminds me that I really need to catch up on Amazon’s adaptations of P.K. Dick’s work. As for my own work, I haven’t yet written one I’d like to see adapted - so now I have to make it a goal to write such a book.
Do you wish you could change anything about any of your books?
This, dear invisible interviewer, is the digital age. I can and have and am currently in the process of doing sometimes major updates (extra epilogues, extended content, new side characters, etc.). Sometimes these go out to readers via newsletter and then get rolled into the ebook, sometimes they go straight to the ebook. What I really wish I could change is my writing patience level. For romances, that means I’d like to drop my attitude of “My gawd, I wouldn’t put up with any more of this shit IRL, I’d go live on a mountain and be celibate for the rest of my life, so let’s get on to where they kiss and make up.” :D Sorry/not sorry.
Calvin Klein’s Obsession when it’s on my husband :D
What are your three favorite character traits for a leading man in a romance and do your male leads have these traits?
Sense of humor, intelligence and integrity. And, uh, sure my heroes have these traits, they are just buried under muscle and alphalicious badassery.
Favorite male lead of another creator’s book or film/tv and why?
Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the TV series Firefly. He has the humor, intelligence and integrity that I value. Actor (Nathan Fillion) is easy on the eyes, for sure. Sexy as hell voice when it drops low. Character is courageous, faithful to those he cares about. Will do what has to be done. And now I have to go binge watch Firefly for the 80th time. (Close second is Jaime Lannister as played by Nicolaj Coster-Waldau — the humor and intelligence are there, the integrity according to his own code, voice is always sexy and character was 1000% right when he said “There are no men like me — only me.” Crap, now I can’t decide and am going to spend the whole day rethinking this answer :D and watching both GoT and Firefly.)
If you were a heroine in a book or movie, who would it be?
Toss up of River Tam from Firefly or Azhriaz from Night’s Daughter by Tanith Lee. Close third, Arya Stark.
What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid and why?
Mineralogist. The why of it is kind of depressing. I had a super entertaining grandfather, a brilliant man who lived a rather exceedingly ordinary lower middle class life other than his time in World War II and his having been heavily abused by his father as a child. He was an amazing storyteller as well. He didn’t spend much time around me, but, when he did, he would bring out his mineral collection (kept in tin Folger’s Coffee cans) and tell me stories in between telling me what rock was what. He also gave me my own Folger’s can filled with many of his samples (all of which he had collected on his own in the field). I moved around so much (more than 25 times between multiple states before I turned 18) and sometimes I’d only get to take two paper bags of clothes and keepsakes. And, often times, my mother or her husband might buy me something one week and sell it in a yard sale a few weeks later. They made me put out my Folger’s can of pretties at the same time, but no one was interested in those, so they were my one constant treasure. So I love shinies and science and had an emotional attachment to minerals.
Sexiest actor alive?
Nicolaj Coster Waldau
Favorite color and why? And if God has a favorite color, what do you think it is?
My favorite color is blue in a variety of shades. Blue is clean air and clean water. Blue is the seemingly endless horizon of sky and ocean and thus discovery. Blue is the cool crispness of intellect. I would think God’s favorite color is black. The vast majority of the universe is black. Black is the well-spring of all matter. Most of my best ideas come to me when I am in a lightless (or nearly so) room.
Do you have other pen names
Yes. I am differentiating my darker, more suspenseful romances as by C.M. Wick, and I released a non-romance post-apocalyptic series as D.H. Fraser. I have other pen names, but they are super sekrit.
Are you friends with other writers?
Almost all my friends are writers. And almost all of my friends I have never met in person. And, yes, I need to get out more.
Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?
Ha-ha-ha … oh, that was a serious question? Well, in some of the horror I write, I’ve fictionalized parts of my life. I’ve even done that in some of my romances (and those bits were called out as “unrealistic,” which made me laugh and laugh and laugh and then cry a little - don’t ask me which bits, I don’t remember which, only that it happened, but I also remember dreams as having happened, but I only talk about that with my therapist, so …). Anyone who writes an autobiography is, by definition, a writer, but I don’t think writers are interested in writing outright autobiographies. We are either running from dealing with life events in our own space/time or running toward much more interesting stories, characters, concepts, and events.