You can hock almost anything at my family’s pawn shop…even your own soul.You think running a pawn shop full of cursed objects with your dad and grandpops is cool? Try it for a week and get back to me. Now try picking up any random object and seeing its creeptastic history play out right before your eyes — yup, that’s my little “gift.” It’s my job to sort out what’s haunted and hexed from what’s not, and do my best to keep all of us — including Bert, our ice-cream-truck-driving-lizard demon — employed.So it wasn’t all sunshine, roses, and possessed samurai swords even before grandpops’ heart attack — but now things are garden-gnome levels of bad. Dad made a deal with the wrong end of the dark side to save grandpops’ life, putting my whole family smack dab between the forces of evil and our friendly local blow-your-pawn-shop-to-smithereens mobsters. And Lily next door…I shouldn’t even be thinking about Lily.All I ever wanted was to get out of this crap town and away from my messed-up family, and instead it looks like I’m gonna have to use every scrap of magic in this joint or there won’t be any family left to leave behind…
About the Author:
What is your favorite childhood book?
I read nearly anything I could get my hands on as a kid, but I truly loved the Bunnicula books. The Celery Stalks at Midnight is such a wonderful story, and it made me very curious about the secret lives of animals. I like to imagine that they have as many wonderful adventures as people do!
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I was very much raised with the idea that the arts were strictly hobbies. If I had it to do over again, I would buck expectations and give myself permission to study creative writing or art and to pursue writing as a career from the outset. I wound up working in criminal justice for many years, which does provide a great deal of story fodder, but I sometimes think about what might have happened if I’d gone to library school ten years earlier. Or what would have happened if I pursued a creative writing degree.
What does literary success look like to you?
To me, literary success is independence. It’s the freedom to be my own boss, to create what I like and explore new ideas.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I love doing research. I fall down research rabbit holes all the time, and I love being able to explore interesting places, people, and ideas. I think each story deserves its own landscape, its own magical system, and its own framework that can best be served by rolling up one’s sleeves and learning new stuff.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
I do. I like to think that a story is out there, somewhere, fully-formed and invisible. If I can just quiet my internal chatter, maybe I can hear it and get it down onto paper before it turns its attention to someone else.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
We have six cats, most of whom are reformed ex-ferals. There is always one around when I’m writing, so I’m pretty certain my spirit animal is a cat asleep on my keyboard.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Writer’s block is definitely a thing. For me, it happens when there’s something shinier I’d rather be doing than writing (like puttering around the garden or playing with my sewing machine). It also happens when I reach a difficult part in a book and I can’t figure a way around the problem.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
For me, I have to develop the discipline to sit down and just write. I can try to free write my way through a plot problem, and that helps. But if I’m distracted by other things I’d rather be doing, I just have to set hours for writing. That new dress I’m dying to make can wait until I have three chapters done. Having carrots like that helps.
I find that if I don’t sit down and write, writer’s block becomes bigger and more unmanageable. So nipping it in the bud and getting recommitted to the project is super-important for me.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
There is a giant epic fantasy sitting underneath my bed in a box. It will never see the light of day, and this is a good thing. It was my first book, and I learned so much by working through it, but it’s not something I’d want to subject readers to.
Sometimes projects get abandoned at the synopsis or outline stage. I fall in love with an idea and then discover that there’s not a market or editor willing to take it on. I find myself cannibalizing elements of those stories in later books. It’s a little bittersweet, but it does keep those old projects alive in some way.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think that readers do want original content…otherwise, they’d simply re-read the same books they already own, and there would be no market for new books at all!
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
In an alternate universe, I’m quite sure that I’m a veterinarian. I adore all the animals in my life. They’ve had some very significant health challenges, and I’d like to think that another version of myself decided to go to veterinary school to help them and other critters who need care.