1. What books/authors have influenced you and why?
It's no coincidence that I write Middle Grade fantasy. Growing up, these were always the books I was most drawn to. There's something about being able to lose yourself in Lewis's Narnia or attend Hogwarts with Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. I like the adventure and themes presented in the Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series especially. I also have a secret passion for the Anne of Green Gables series and many of L.M. Montgomery's other books. In fact, the protagonist in my debut novel, though a male, is named in honor of L.M. Montgomery.
2. How do you develop your plot and characters?
Lots of brainstorming. I have multiple notebooks and random papers with scratches of ideas. It's important to catch those passing thoughts because they can be so fleeting. Once things begin materializing, I'll write out an outline, which is revised numerous times until it forms into a rough storyboard. From there, I start letting my characters have a lot of say as to how the story may play out. Also, research. I'll often gain ideas and inspiration from ancient myths and folklore for the given setting I am forming the story in.
3. Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
Monte is a passionate, slightly awkward, thirteen-year-old boy who is discovering his magical capabilities in a world undergoing much magical threat. He has a fun sense of humor and enjoys a good joke, yet isn't the type to pull a mean or nasty prank. In other words, he has just enough decorum for his age to not be a complete troublemaker, although some of the other characters in the book would tell you otherwise! I'd say his greatest flaw - which is also a strength, at times - is letting his passion and drive blind him to the opinions and advice of others. He's great. I love him. I also love his relationship with his friends and older brother. It's really fun.
4. Same with your antagonist.
I'm going to keep the details vague for the sake of spoilers but I really like my antagonist's backstory. It becomes crucial to the plot and is something that I intend to unfold more and more as the series progresses.
5. Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
Ha. Yes and No. Right now, my writing routine involves snatching windows of time (usually small) where I write as much as I can before getting interrupted. Being a mother with young children, I have to make good use of whatever little snippets of quiet that I can. Bigger chunks of writing come during nap time and at night, when I can write undisturbed for 1-3 hours, or until I'm too exhausted to go any further. I tend to listen to more music (usually movie soundtracks - NO LYRICS!) during brainstorming and drafting than I do in revision.
6. What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
7. What does literary success look like to you?
The ultimate literary success for me as an author would be to instill a love for reading in our younger readers. To catch them at the inception of their budding young adulthood and to offer them the same excitement and enthusiasm that I received at their age through reading. I'd love to one day see my book enjoyed by readers of all ages and across a vast demographic area. If I can accomplish any of these things I'd consider myself very successful indeed!