Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
In essence, I'm a farm girl with passions that led me to a career as a paramedic and a variety of other hobbies. Mostly, I love my husband and our four critters: two shelties and two cats. My husband and I have traveled extensively around the world. My most exciting trip was to Egypt. Oh, New Zealand was a lot of fun, too. In Israel I thought the bus at Masada left me behind – I was terrified until the rest of my bus mates miraculously appeared.
I've learned three things over the past sixty-something years. Thoughts are powerful. Intentions are everything. And lastly, passion is the key to success.
During my career as a paramedic I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I have the fodder for creating intense novels.
My creative DNA ran amok within two months after my first novel, The Guardian's Wildchild, was published. I couldn't believe there was this kind of story within me and desperate to be told. I resisted. It was futile.
When I gave in to the visions and inspirations, I knew that the first year would be taken up with studying Islam and the Muslim culture. After finding a most wonder imam and a Muslim physician, it was time to begin the research and write.
After completing the first draft of Forbidden, I searched for police personnel who would be willing to guide me in ensuring all the police procedures were legit and believable. The final draft of Forbidden was completed after four years of editing, rewriting, and editing again. My goal has been to write an exciting story, one that is both plot and character driven. Also, I was most careful in presenting the Islam faith in a moderate and unbiased tone.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Forbidden is my most loved creation, so far. The inspiration came from a very odd circumstance.
After the nine eleven attack in the USA, understandably the world population experienced shock, anger, and fear. I saw the hatred on faces of Muslims and non-Muslims. I worried that both sides might develop a intractable hatred for each other. I prayed. I sent loving energy to all those who felt crushed by an enemy they couldn't see nor understand. That enemy is ignorance. We all suffer from it. We allow our vision, ideas, values to be fashioned by the media. We often are too lazy to seek out the truth, the unbiased understanding of a people.
Then, one cold winter night while driving home from work, I spotted an older woman. Her clothes were a bit different from our parkas and snow boots. I surmised she was from our northern region, perhaps the Northwest Territories, Inuit or Eskimo.
She walked with a limp. I wondered why she would be walking in that neighborhood as there were only businesses, now closed for the day. After careful consideration, ensuring she was alone, I pulled up beside her and opened the window.
"Let me give you a lift," I called to her.
She stood back, eyed me suspiciously and noted my SUV had seen better days. My sheltie had recently ripped the leather from the front door window ledge. I could see she was frightened. Gazing down the street and back to my snow encrusted vehicle, she stepped forward.
I smiled and motioned for her to come in.
She put her hand on the window sill and looked directly into my eyes. No smile, no words, just wanting to trust but so reluctant.
"It's okay," I said softly. "Come." Traffic was backing up behind me but, amazingly, being very patient. Again I motioned for her to come and sit in my vehicle.
Finally, she opened the door and slowly got into my SUV. I gave her a bright smile and asked where was she heading. She pointed straight ahead and gave me a hesitant nod.
Over the next several blocks I tried to make conversation with her. It quickly became evident that she didn't understand a word I was saying until I asked her where she was from.
"Afghanistan," she said.
I nearly slammed on the breaks. I knew our city had welcomed a number of refugees from that war torn region. But I had never expected to meet one, let alone give one a ride.
"Afghanistan?" I asked.
She nodded. "Afghanistan." She gave me a small smile, as if unsure of my reaction. In a few more blocks she directed me to drive to a business where her friends were waiting for her.
I turned to her and smiled with delight. I had met a woman from Afghanistan. What were the odds? I offered my right hand to her. Instead of grasping my hand, she gave me a hug and kissed my cheek.
It was a magical moment. We could not carry on a conversation, knew nothing about the other, but we had become sisters. I drove home is a state of wonder.
Then, the visions of Forbidden took hold of me. It seems I had been chosen to write a story of Islam, of Muslims in a novel that portrays that culture from an unbiased point of view. In the intervening years of research, I have come to know Muslims and the basics of Islam and the Koran. What we see in the media, hateful tweets, damning posts is so far from the truth.
It is my prayer that Forbidden will help non-Muslims understand that Islam is like other religions. In the middle ground (like the imam advised me), we all devote our lives to peace, loving our families, and enjoying the fruits of our honest labors.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write twenty four hours ago – well, almost. If I'm not at the keyboard, my mind is constantly creating the next chapter, beefing up yesterday's dialogue, or editing a scene. Research is never ending. And editing – OMG, is there any such thing a perfect editing.
I research everything. Not just read about subjects, but experience tasks and physical effects and emotions. Forbidden has many gun battles. I was fortunate to meet the son of a friend who allowed me to handle a wide variety of weapons, feel what it was like to use them. It was a vital experience.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I read a wide variety of genres but I think Diana Gabaldon's books have had the most influence. I like how her plots are in constant motion and yet have just the right amount of description that allows me to see, hear, feel, smell, taste the scene. I was fortunate to meet her at a writer's convention. Beside being one of my mentor's, I learned she is quite entertaining.
What are you working on now?
Right now marketing Forbidden is taking my full attention. There is a niggly that hopes to divert my attention to another book. That niggly, sometimes known as the muse (I named it, a froggy, Croak) thinks I need to write a sequel to Forbidden. We, Croak and I, have had heated arguments about this (well, as heated as one can get with a voice in your head). Forbidden's final chapter has all loose ends tied up; well, except for one nasty psychopath. Nuff said. I don't do spoilers. Who knows will win – me or Croak, LOL.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
There's no one method or website. I wish there was a magic bullet, no pun intended. Marketing and promotions is a skill I've had to master. It has been the most difficult hat to wear. Thanks to my author friends, we endeavor to help each other navigating book bloggers, reviewer sites, etc. without putting ourselves too far into debt. My husband rolls his eyes when I tell him the hoops I need to tackle. Getting my books' titles and my name to stand above the millions of other authors and books. Writing the novel is much easier than getting in front of readers.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I was lucky to become a member of a special group of authors. We got to know each other online through our publisher. We formed a tight knit friendship, sharing our successes, fears, torture sessions, even tears, and "How the hell do I do xyz!" A new author should look for writing groups in his/her community; or start up a writing group through your local library.
Another group that is totally amazing online is the Insecure Writers Support Group IWSG.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Never give up! Never, damn it!
What are you reading now?
Just today, in fact, I downloaded Howard Kaplan's novel, The Damascus Cover (The Jerusalem Spy). I heard about it from the Reading Deals: http://readingdeals.com/deals
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have a vision. Readers of all genres love my novels – adult men and women. It's not the financial reward that I seek. It's simply knowing that readers are drawn into the mystery, feel the magic, cringe with every curse and raised bloody knife. I take them to a place they've never been before, feel something beyond what they thought was possible, and know the characters as if they are real – beautiful, frightening, hateful, heroic. I want the reader to hope the story never ends.
What is your favorite book of all time?
Just one? Okay, "Searching for Summer" by Christine Campbell had me by the throat day and night. So well written. Such a dynamic and interesting main character. Her agony – so evident. It will remain in my kindle so I can read it again and again.