Does this book have a special meaning to you? i.e. where you found the idea, its symbolism, its meaning, who you dedicated it to, what made you want to write it?
That April in Santa Monica is about redemption. It’s about the things we say in anger that we can never get back. The heroine Madison has been beating herself up for the last thing she said to her late mother. By the end of the story, she’s able to come to terms with what happened in the past. The book often seems a humorous read, but there is an underlying seriousness I believe makes it very human.
The book is dedicated to my mother. Mom is ninety-three and has dementia. These days, she forgets what she ate for breakfast or even eating breakfast, but she never forgets to ask about my writing. I’ve read her many of the blogs I’ve written for the tour, and she laughs at the funny ones and comments on the contents of others. She’s my biggest fan and my best friend.
I wrote That April in Santa Monica because I like to read about people who beat the odds. A friend once pointed out that so many of my stories involve a teacher and a student. I didn’t realize it until then, but she was right.
Where do you get your storylines from?
My storylines usually begin with a question. This last one centers around the question: What would happen if a teacher on a reality TV show fell in love with a student? A couple of books back, the question was: What would a Victorian poet who time-traveled to the present think of texting and email?
Was this book easier or more difficult to write than others? Why?
Every book I write takes a long time. They are never easy. I’ve been known to rewrite a chapter over and over, sometimes as much as thirty times, to get it the way I want it.
Do you only write one genre?
I started with children’s books, then young adults, and what I thought was women’s fiction. It wasn’t until Donald Mass told me to find a genre after I’d sent a book to him that he said didn’t have a place on the shelf. Consequently, I wrote a Gothic horror novel that took ten years to complete. Sadly, I haven’t been able to sell it. That scary story is my husband’s favorite. He keeps saying, “How come you’re not still submitting it?” I’ve been rejected so many times with Blood Vault that I’ve shelved it. Maybe, I’ll try to self-publish it in the future.
Give us a picture of where you write, where you compose these words…is it Starbucks, a den, a garden…we want to know your inner sanctum?
I started writing my first book at the dining room table. I soon moved into a secluded corner in a house filled with a husband, children, and pets. Today, with the children out on their own, I have my own writing room. Booklined walls, a treadmill desk, Bose noise-canceling headphones, another small stationary desk, strong coffee.
As for Starbucks? I don’t know how other writers end up there. For starters, I despise the idea of leaving the house. I’d have to get out of my pajamas. Once I talk to others, my head is too full of chatter to settle down to write. Plus, when I’m working, I’m talking to myself. I become each character. Somedays, the writing is like pulling teeth and I cuss. My inner sanctum? It should be a padded cell. If I showed up at Starbucks, they’d hand me a cup and throw me out in the street.
And finally, of course…was there any specific event or circumstance that made you want to be a writer?
I was always telling my kids stories. One year, we went to visit family in Massachusetts. After relaying a bedtime tale, one of the cousins said, “It’s a shame not to share your talent.” Silly me, I thought I would write the book and the readers would come. Little did I realize it would take years to learn the trade and develop the thick skin needed to face rejection. I’m glad I hung in there, though. I’m living proof that if you keep going and don’t give up you will score in the end.