Living in Colorado, what inspired you to write a series about mermaids and the sea?
I think when you live far away from the sea you long for what you can’t have –just like others may wish they could see the mountains that I take for granted.
I received my first taste of the ocean when I was young. My family took trips every year in the summer and many times we ended up near the Pacific Coast. I saw lighthouses and sea-life, which was nothing like my real world. The deep became a fantasy place for me.
I remember visiting an attraction in California when I was six or seven that had mermaids swimming in an aquarium. I was enraptured and believed that they were real. From that day on, the mythical creatures captured my attention along with their home.
Your books speak to a Young Adult audience. How do you think you connect with this age group?
I think it is more my inability to grow up that really does the trick on connecting with my teenage readers. Truthfully,I think the fact that I had such a strict upbringing that I can’t write anything I would be afraid to have my mom read. I don’t know if an adult should worry about offending their parents, but my books don’t have explicit sex scenes or cursing.
I also find my imagination is more suited to the younger crowd. Adults tend to want books full of angst and raw emotions–they like to read about real-life situations in books. I haven’t met many grown-ups who enjoy pretending that tumbleweeds are magical creatures. I read for escape so my writing reflects that.
It looks like you’ve loved mermaids since you were 8! What fascinates you about them?
When I was growing up, I wasn’t introduced to Hans Christian Andersen’s stories and there wasn’t a Disney’s Ariel. The only mermaids I saw were those in the aquarium and maybe I saw a cartoon version one time, but what I remembered was I thought they were beautiful and I always wanted to be pretty.
Also, mermaids can swim and sing. I didn’t know how to swim for the longest time and singing for a profession wasn’t a possibility, so an exotically gorgeous creature that can do these things makes me an admirer.
How does your love for travel play into what you write about such as time travel?
Time travel fulfills my love for history. Watching movies and TV shows that have time travel also inspired the concept. I don’t know when I started liking it, but I’ve been riveted with it as much as with mermaids.
Also, I wanted to write about several locations I’ve been lucky to visit that coincide with historical events I’ve been interested in over the years.
You just recently redid the covers to your Travelers series. Can you tell me a little more about what they reveal about the stories inside?
The new covers reveal the time travel aspect of the stories along with the fact that Triana, the mermaid, has to share bodies with people she visits in each era.
You have a lot of strong female characters in your books. Why do you think these characters are especially attractive to your readers?
I hoped that the strong female characters I wrote about could show young women or girls how they can be average and still accomplish extraordinary things. You don’t have to be born into a rich family or even have a plethora of talent –just be willing to go outside your comfort zone and be the best you.
I wanted to pick women in history that accomplished something in locations I have enjoyed visiting so that narrowed down the women I chose for the stories.
Hawaii is one of my favorite vacation destinations so I asked my husband, the history buff, if he knew of any famous women in Hawaii during World War II. He mentioned women pilots, which I knew nothing about until I researched it and found the article Cornelia Fort wrote.
Margaret Brown (AKA Molly Brown) didn’t just help survivors off the Titanic, she helped the less fortunate and she fought for women’s rights. She was a woman ahead of her time. Since she came from Colorado, I felt a kinship with her.
People can come from your home town or thousands of miles away, but they all share potential and possibilities.
What would you like readers to take away from your stories?
I want readers to be entertained, find escape from the stressful world we live in,and maybe learn a little about history. I also want them to realize that no matter how insignificant they feel, they don’t have to let their flaws hinder them.
I’ve struggled my whole life to feel worthy of my dreams, but finally, I just reached for them and told myself that I will never be perfect. Aren’t my weaknesses what makes me relatable? Who wants to be around a perfect person?
Who was your favorite character to write about and why?
I think my favorite character to write about was Lucy, because she is so different from me. I like Triana because she gets to do all the fun time travel stuff, but Lucy is carefree and into fashion. My fashion sense is non-existent. I don’t have the budget or body to wear the latest trends, but I can admire fictional characters or real ones that do have the ability.
Lucy also uses Italian food words to replace curse words, which make her quirky and fun.After all, she was named after one of my favorite TV characters, Lucy Ricardo
Who was the most challenging character to write about and why?
My biggest challenge was to write any of the male characters and their perspectives. Writing male characters and their dialogue and thoughts wasn’t natural for me at first.
During the writing process was there anything that surprised you?
My original story didn’t have any of the merpeoples’ history. Arianne and Castillo were added on after I got feedback.
My time travels were different too because Triana went to California and was part of the first American Idol competition with Kelly Clarkson. She also went to Paris at Epcot and France.
Originally, my editor felt my book was more like a travel blog than a story. I suppose I was trying too hard to fit in all the places I’ve enjoyed visiting in the past.
I wasn’t planning on a book two either, so there were many changes from my first manuscript.
What are you up too now in your writing career?
My new book, Web of Tuntre, will be released in October. It is a young adult fantasy but it has monsters and Viking mythology –far from my pretty mermaid and fairy stories.Another fascination of mine has always been Vikings and while writing this book, I got to visit Norway.
I also wrote a sequel to Elle’s Magical Shoes called Elle’s Magical Books that is with the editor now. I found so many people of all ages really enjoyed my middle grade book, so I decided to write another one. I’m giving the first book a new cover to give The Magical Things Collection similar covers.
I’m also in the process of writing a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
Author Q&A will be a regular feature here at Byrd Nash. Interviews will be with self-published authors and discuss their books and writing craft.