Why don’t you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself…?
Although I grew up in a small town in Texas, I never really felt comfortable there. After college, I moved to Dallas and have lived in the area ever since. While it’s still in Texas, the big city has the culture and diversity I like. I came to writing late in life, but don’t think I really had anything to say earlier. From early childhood, I had an affinity for animals, so my novel is geared toward showing the lives of people who feel the same way. They are real people, living real lives, who just happen to be vegan, environmentalists or animal advocates. There’s no message except that people who care strongly about something, enough to completely change their lives, are the people who change the world. My heroines and heroes have to overcome tremendous odds in order to get what they most desire. They’re the people we love to read about.
What’s your idea of a relaxing day..?
I go to a movie every weekend; am almost as crazy about movies as I am about books. Walk dogs, play with cats, watch TV.
What was your families’ reaction when you told them you wanted to be a writer…? Were they supportive or did they think you were crazy…?
I have very little family, but my sister is supportive. In fact, she is my collaborator. Some of my friends are excited, some are indifferent. I read about people whose friends love very word they write and think they are the most wonderful authors who ever lived. All my friends are critics. Could somebody please loan me some of their friends and family who think they’re God’s gift to the literary world? I’d really appreciate it.
What’s your favorite:
- a. Author…? Jane Austen, Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane
- b. Film…? The Deerhunter
- c. TV Show…? Dexter, Homeland, Justified
Have you ever read a book, then later saw the film, and thought “Oh man, they screwed it all up…?”
It’s rare that I find a movie that does a good book justice. More often, a movie will make a bad book better, i.e., The Godfather.
Tell us about your book…?
Here’s the description on amazon.com
A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, Diary of a Dieting Madhouse is about about Faine, who compulsively overeats to compensate for the big changes that have taken place in her life. Forced to cope with the death of her parents in a car accident, inheriting her rebellious younger sister to raise, and being constantly bombarded with free food at Knight & Daye, the Downtown Dallas law firm where she’s a secretary, Rowan gains 35 pounds. Her perpetually beautiful and skinny best friend, Madelyn Morrison, tells her that the book, Diary of a Dieting Madhouse—The Diet (available for download by the reader), is what keeps her thin and healthy.
Rowan deals daily with the erratic nature of the attorneys she works for, in an atmosphere where class distinctions, while subtle, still thrive even in this enlightened time. She is caught off balance by a new, lateral hire attorney, the proud and haughty Grey Faris. Grey and Rowan instantly clash, particularly when she overhears him call her “fat.” Rowan, who loses weight and shapes up while following the “Madhouse Diet,” soon becomes convinced that her prejudices against Grey are well-founded. But her outgoing, playful nature and impertinence have attracted his attention, and, in spite of himself, his admiration.
Tell us a bit about the main Character… Is he/ she based off of any one in particular…? What inspired you to create this character…?
I’ve undergone several major lifestyle changes (i.e., becoming a vegan), and I wanted to put my personal struggles, epiphanies and beliefs into the mouths of fictional characters. It sounds a lot less like preaching and more fun when it comes from characters we like and identify with. Kind of like your short story, “Compulsion,” where you presented a moral dilemma that would resonate with many people, but in a realistic way that didn’t sound like moralizing. It certainly made me think.
I tried to make my heroine, Rowan, an “everywoman” who’s just like the rest of us, or would be if we were all sharp-witted, brave and incredibly attractive to a tall, handsome, rich lawyer even though we’re 35 lbs overweight. Well, it is fiction after all!
Where did you did you get the idea for your book…? What inspired you or caused you to say “Ah ha…”
I stole the frame from Jane Austen, but the characters come from the many law firms I’ve worked for. They define the word “Madhouse.”
What was the most difficult part about writing this book…?
Keeping it entertaining even though I was dealing with a serious, controversial subject. I hope that people who aren’t necessarily interested in veganism or animal advocacy will find something in the book to like. There’s lots of humor and human situations that just about everybody who’s ever worked for a bad boss can identify with. Plus, if you love Pride & Prejudice the way millions of women do, you’ll find something to love in the book. I tried to be respectfully of Jane Austen’s characters without slavishly copying them. I made them contemporary and my own.
Let’s chat for a minute about your writing process… Do you outline, or are you one of that that just sits and starts writing by the seat of your pants…?
Rigorous outlining, constant editing, rearranging and rewriting. My sister collaborates with me, and she is a task master.
Do you write in the morning, evening, or are you a graveyard writer…?
Whenever I have the time and am in the zone.
When you write, what are the biggest challenges you encounter…?
Time. I work a fulltime job and have a houseful of demanding animals (rescued cats and dogs, not kids-LOL!).
Do you know much about your characters when you start, or do you get to know them as you go along…?
I think I know everything about them when I start, but they often surprise me.
If you could write in a genre different than the one you are writing in now, what would it be and why…?
Mystery, psychological suspense, because those are the books I like to read.
What novel would you recommend that everybody read…?
Pride & Prejudice
Who stands out as being your favorite writer…?
If you had the chance to sit down and talk to any writer dead or alive for one hour who would that be and why…?
Lawrence Block, because he’s so talented and funny (and still alive, the last time I checked).
Every time I hear this question asked, I can’t help but think about a long-dead writer’s body being exhumed, propped up in a chair and sitting there with worms crawling out of his or her eyeballs while a young, eager writer asks them the secrets of their success. Maybe I should have been a horror writer.
What can we expect next from you…?
I’m in the process of editing my novel “Stealing Light from Shooting Stars,” which is the story of a heroin-addicted street derelict who cleans himself up to win the heart of a cold-hearted blond interior decorator. It’s the ultimate odd couple, beauty and the beast story.
I have another novel named “The Myth of the Seemingly Ordinary Day” that will be out next year, plus another one I’m outlining called “A Small Town in Texas.” My sister says that I’ve created my own, personal genre called “Addiction Fiction,” because all my characters are addicted to one thing or another (alcohol, heroin, food, love, the past). The good news is, they all overcome their addictions to attain their hearts’ desire.
Barnes and Noble: