What is your writing process like?
I get up early and write six to eight hours a day, four times a week. Fortunately, my husband helps me with plotting and researching. On two days a week, I write book reviews or edit books and articles for other writers. Then on Sundays, I stay off the computer.
How do you come up with ideas for stories and characters?
Ideas are all around me. I find ideas at home and in my neighbourhood and community. Everybody in my circle of family and friends or acquaintances has a story that's important to them. It could encompass topics such as healthcare, employment, family, eldercare, sibling dynamics, marriage, divorce, housing, friendships, travel, security, politics, or social injustices. From the embryo of someone else's story, I develop my narrative. I also come across ideas from the social issues of our times. The media is filled with articles about race, religion, sexual orientation, immigration, childcare, poverty, Indigenous rights, terrorism, politics, the opioid crisis, the #MeToo movement, human trafficking, cyberbullying, along with top newsmakers such as climate change. There isn't enough time to develop all the ideas that come to me.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process?
The most challenging part of the writing process is the editing phase, which seems to never end!
What advice would you give writers working on their first book?
I am a "Plotter" not a "Pantser." I find it easier to plot my story from beginning to end rather than fly by the seat of my pants with a storyline. In that way, I don't have plot holes to fill later or find it necessary to erase plot threads because they don't tie up in the end.
How many books have you written, and which is your favorite?
I have written twelve books—including junior fiction, young adult fiction, and adult fiction. A Good Mother is my favourite, for it is an emotional book about a child who is kidnapped from a campground and a psychic nun who gets involved with the search. The research for this one was a lot of fun!
What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?
My husband and I did research on human trafficking for A Good Mother. It is a dark and scary world that is hard to take.
What inspired the idea for your book?
When I was camping, I saw a child playing alone on the sand on the beach.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I shut the door to my office and play white noise to stay focused while writing.
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
Jodi Picoult. I love all her books, and she writes in the same genre as I do.