Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and grew up a nomad, with multiple stints living in Saudi Arabia, boarding school in New Hampshire, and college split between Minnesota and Colorado. My family is from Pakistan, and I still have extended family there. My husband, two young daughters and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I used to work with the Cincinnati Health Department on projects to improve community health, which is as close as I could get to saving the world.
In 2012, I decided to quit work and focus on my other two passions: my family and my writing. I published “Thorn,” a retelling of the Grimms’ fairy tale, The Goose Girl, just a few weeks before my second daughter came along. I am now hard at work on The Sunbolt Chronicles, with the first book (a novella) out already, and it’s full-length sequel due out early this summer. I also have a free short story you can pick up on most platforms to get a taste of my writing, titled “The Bone Knife.” This is the Amazon link: http://amzn.to/1PUZEB8
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest novella is titled “Sunbolt.” It features a street thief with a tendency to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, the dark mage who killed her father. The book takes its name from a spell that Hitomi casts, where she gathers the latent sunlight in the world around her and throw it at someone in a bolt of sunlight. The sequel, which will come out early this summer, is titled “Memories of Ash,” in large part due to the consequences of incinerating yourself from the inside out…
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m a homeschooling mama with two young kids, so my writing habits are to tuck my kids in bed and head straight to the computer. My poor husband has to book movie nights with me a couple days in advance. Now that my kids do have a drop-off afternoon “school” four days a week, I zip over to the nearest library branch and write then too. I love having daylight writing hours–there’s something to be said for writing while your brain is still relatively fresh.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
As a young duckling, I imprinted on Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley. I read pretty widely, but those are the authors I kept coming back to, especially McKinley’s Damar books. I am also an incorrigible Jane Austen fan, but my books don’t reflect that very much!
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to Sunbolt, titled Memories of Ash. It starts up about a year after Sunbolt ends (giving Hitomi plenty of time to recover from playing with fire), and marks the beginning of a larger story arc that will follow Hitomi as she faces her darkest fears and her greatest enemies, and discovers just what she’s made of.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I don’t think there’s a magic bullet. It’s mostly a combination of writing good stories, putting out a professional looking book, and continuously working at different, authentic marketing efforts. By authentic, I mean that if you’re on social media, it should be you, and now a continuous stream of “buy my books” tweets / posts / what-have-you. There are a lot of website out there that promote books, and some will work better for you than others. It really depends on your books and their audience.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Keep writing, and keep working on developing your brand and platform. Be honest, be genuine, be kind. It will work out in its own time.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Sorry, good advice is so context specific for me, I don’t really know how to answer!
What are you reading now?
I’m between books (gasp!), but I just finished “Preferred Dead” by A.C. Spahn, which was a hilarious space opera with zombies, and “Masque” by W. R. Gingell, which was a brilliant and humorous retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a bit of regency flair.
What’s next for you as a writer?
More books! I am working on The Sunbolt Chronicles, and hope to also work in a companion trilogy to my debut novel, “Thorn,” which has been knocking about in my head a few years now. Too many stories, too little time!
What is your favorite book of all time?
Pride and Prejudice. (Read: incorrigibly Jane Austen fan. Persuasion is a close second.)