Feel free to share a little about yourself in your own words.
Awesome! I’m a writer, teacher, and classical musician. I love Renaissance Faires and all things science fiction and fantasy–my husband and I also do Viking reenactment together! I’ve had short stories in Kzine, the Gallery of Curiosities, Phantaxis, Red Sun Magazine, and Swords and Sorcery Magazine, and I’ve had nonfiction articles in Renaissance Magazine. After years of writing, I collected many of my science fiction stories into my first book, Sapience. My newest books, Saints and Curses, is a collection of my fantasy short stories. I live in Texas with my husband, our two children, and two cats. Oh, and I play violin and viola in my local symphony!
How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing for a long time. I think I started creative writing when I was in high school, but then I put it aside and didn’t do much for a long time. About eight or nine years ago, I started writing for my first teaching job. I was teaching English Language Arts, and none of the material was connecting with my students, so in desperation I wrote a couple of Reader’s Theater plays on topics and stories I thought they’d enjoy. The students did like them, so I kept going. After that, I wrote my first novel, which lingers in a file on my computer somewhere. I started writing short stories because once I had my daughter and I was working full time, I just didn’t have the stamina to try to write a long form work again. But I wanted to keep writing, and I fell in love with short stories because I could finish them much quicker.
What can you tell us about your daily routines that help you focus and your creative habits? So, for example, how do you come up with some of your ideas and inspiration for your book?
I find that small acts of daily writing, even if it’s just jotting down an idea in a notebook or writing a very short story on Twitter, helps me to keep going and develop my ideas. I think one of the hardest things for me to do is write a novel, which is much more about developing one big idea and the characters around it, then coming up with new ideas.
As for inspiration, there’s so many things! Just look at the world around you and be curious. What’s going on with those birds pecking at trash under a picnic table? What are some new scientific discoveries? Imagine your supermarket check out clerk had super powers–what would they be?
Is this book very personal for you? If so, how?
Yes, I think the stories in my books mean a lot to me. I put a ton of work into writing them, and some of them (though not all) represent certain times or feelings I had.
It actually took several days of intense thought to come up with the title! I went through tons of titles that just didn’t seem right. In the end, I was discussing the book and what all the stories were about, and we came up with “Saints and Curses.” The second I heard it, I knew that was it–it felt right.
Plot and Synopsis
Can you describe what the book plot and give a detailed synopsis of the book, of course without any spoilers?
Saints and Curses is a collection of short stories, both light and dark fantasy. Some of the stories are grim, but others are, I hope, light hearted and funny. One of my reviewers noticed that many of the stories are about magic, its use and misuse. She also noted that the stories have a “seasonal” feel, I think since several of them are set in distinct seasons–fall, winter, spring–and a couple are set around Christmastime. There’s also a tragicomic vampire cat story, which I loved writing.
Is there any movie, book, or television series that you can somewhat liken your story to? So for example, some books you can say are like Game of Thrones or Star Wars, what mainstream and popular movie do you think your book somewhat “feels” like? Did you want this to be the case?
I don’t normally set out to give any story or book I’m writing a particular “feel” besides the one I think the story should have. However, one reviewer said the stories felt a bit like the original Brothers Grim fairy tales, which is fine with me!
Themes or Messages
What themes and deeper meanings or messages can we expect to find in this book if any? Is there any deep meanings or philosophical questions being explored in the book?
If there’s anything I like in fantasy stories, it’s the idea that even in a modern and sometimes decidedly mundane world, magic is just around the corner. I find some fantasy writers act as though magic or incredible things or heroism are relics of an ancient past, and I just find that mentality really depressing. I find magic, at least in the sense of the mysterious and haunting qualities of nature or human beings, very real and present today.
Off the wall question, but would some of the issues being explored in the book relate to us here in the real world?
Yes, I think so. Many of the stories, magic aside, are about real world issues–getting over a vindictive ex, making up for something you did wrong, dealing with problems in friendship, etc. I think the best stories, even when they’re fantasy or science fiction, always have something to do with people–finding your place in society or in nature, the lust for power, and those kinds of things make for the best stories.
What can you tell us about the setting that we will be seeing in this book?
The settings of the stories are really variable. Some of the stories are set in ancient times–Byzantium, the Middle East around the time of the epic of Gilgamesh. Others are basically modern fantasy, though in worlds where magic and monsters exist.
What cultures or societies can we expect to see and can you tell us about how you came up with creating these societies? Was it difficult to get deep into how the societies function?
I actually drew on my knowledge and love of history for many of the societies in my books. I’m fascinated by Byzantium, in particular the strange, dark times between the fall of the Roman empire in late antiquity and the rise of Byzantium and the modern world. I also drew on my love of the Epic of Gilgamesh for a story set in ancient Lebannon, when it was still a collection of Phoenician city-states.
Tell us about the history of the land or world or worlds that we will be exploring throughout the book?
Since the stories are all set on Earth, they correspond to Earth history, at least as I imagine it, pretty well.
What can you tell us about some of the main characters and villains in this book?
Two of the stories in this book feature one of my favorite characters–a rather put-upon early Christian bishop based on a real historical saint (note: I’m not religious, I just happened to love this story, so it’s not at all intended to convert or proselytize to anyone). I love this character, Nik, because he’s wise, kind, and compassionate, and he’s willing to risk his life to protect people. He has the bravery of someone who resigned to do the right thing, even if they think it’s stupid and dangerous and they will probably be killed. I also think he’s very funny when he’s interacting with the people and animals around him.