Why did you start writing?
The idea of creating my own novel was born during a late night gabfest with my cousin, Ellen Johnson. I don’t know if the Bailey’s we were drinking, was the source of inspiration, or the lack of sleep, but the idea of writing a book became firmly planted in my mind. Later, Ellen encouraged me to follow through with the idea.
In addition, there’s a family history of writing–my late aunt, Maggie Damsgaard, wrote all of her life–from the age of 16, until her death at the age of 92. That’s a great lesson in persistence.
You mention persistence. How important is persistence when it comes to writing?
It’s essential. It didn’t take me long to realize that writing’s all about rejection. I’d had some short stories published and had received positive feedback on the novel, but then I went through a period when every agent I queried, every magazine that I submitted a short story to, gave me the same answer. “Thanks, but no thanks.” I came close to giving up. However, after receiving the last letter rejecting one of my short stories, old-fashioned stubbornness kicked in. I decided if I were going to fail, I’d do so spectacularly. I went about querying agents methodically, five at a time. Within two months of receiving the letter rejecting my story, Dystel and Goderich Literary Management asked for an exclusive read. Another two months went by, and they offered to represent the novel. Five months later, I had a three-book deal with Morrow/Avon. My persistence led me to the right agent, Stacey Glick at Dystel and Goderich, who, in turn, found the right editor for the mystery series, Sarah Durand at Morrow/Avon.
You’ve been very fortunate.
Yes, I have. And I remind myself of my good fortune whenever I start worrying about deadlines.
Why write mysteries?
Well, I suck at writing romance. I tried, but my main character in the story was such a whiner, I couldn’t stand her! Luckily for readers everywhere, I’d put a password on the story, and, of course, didn’t write it down. Six months later, I couldn’t remember the password. So now, that terrible story is locked up in my computer, never to be seen again.
Next step was mysteries, and I found I love writing them. I love the challenge of trying to surprise the reader with different plot twists.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
No. My characters exist only in my imagination.
Speaking of your characters, Ophelia and her grandmother, Abby, are psychic and practice folk magick. Witches. Do you believe in the paranormal?
I believe the world is full of mystery, and a lot of things are possible that science can’t explain.
Does the idea of folk magick conflict with your own spiritual beliefs?
No. Exploring the unexplained doesn’t change any of the beliefs I’ve followed all of my life. And one of those beliefs, is the right of the individual, as long as it causes no harm to themselves or others, to follow their own spiritual path. Mine just doesn’t include folk magick.
What does your family think about your subject matter?
I don’t think my children ever thought about their mother having an imagination so my writing surprised them. And they have wondered at me writing about drugs, death, and magick, but they haven’t called the men in the funny white coats–yet!