What is your favorite thing about being a writer? Being able to do what I love for a living.
What genre(s) do you write? Because I love to read everything, I’ve had a hard time sticking to just one genre. I tend to write all over the place. I’ve written erotic romances, paranormal romance, a tame contemporary romance, a fantasy series, a cozy mystery series, short sci-fi, and I’m working on a horror/thriller series. I even have a Paranormal YA in the works.
What was the hardest part of writing your book? Saving Sarah May was the most difficult book I’ve written because I didn’t’ expect how emotionally draining the writing would be. These three women have such turbulent lives and they’re battling their own inner demons. When you’re writing characters and they’re real to you, you feel their pain, anger, and joy acutely. I’ve written over 15 novels, 10 novellas, and 30+ short stories, and I cried more writing this book than any of the rest.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A little of both and sometimes it depends on the book. Some books I’ve outlined completely and I know exactly what happens in every chapter. But for the majority of them I generally start with an interesting opening, a climax, and where the story ends up. I also tend to outline pivotal moments in the stories, but how the characters get from A to Z is often up to them. They surprise me all the time, and yes – sometimes they even throw a curve ball into my carefully planned plots. I just go with the flow and adjust the outline as I go.
Why do you think people should choose your books over another author? This really depends on the book. I don’t think readers should have to choose. I think my work should be an addition to an already long list of authors a reader enjoys. However, I have been told my books are entertaining. So if you’re looking for something highly literary and incredibly long, my books probably aren’t what you’re looking for. But if you are looking for something entertaining that you can read over a long weekend, then my books are it.
How long have you been a writer? Since I was at least eight or nine. Ten when I started to pen my first novel. So, a very long time. Over thirty years.
How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published? My first published novel was Left Horse Black, a sword and sorcery fantasy novel. It took fourteen years before I finally finished it. This is because I wrote five incarnations of that first published novel before it was published.
What other careers have you had? I’ve done office work and accounting my entire adult life. I know – it sounds boring. But I work in an industry where we’ve had Russian mafia plant car bombs in our yard, and the FBI took over our building once to catch someone on their most wanted list. I have also crossed paths with television and sports celebrities at the day job. I still keep a part-time day job for two reasons. One – to get me out of the house a few times a week, and Two – because health insurance is wicked expensive and I like having health insurance.
Do you write under more than one name? Why? Yes. Because I write in numerous genres. So one pen name for the PG stuff. One pen name for the R-Rated stuff. And one pen name for the Adult Only stuff. Plus, I keep a separate pen name for non-fiction. This helps my readers find exactly what they want. If I only had one pen name – readers would have no clue what they’re getting and a lot of readers tend toward one or two genres – not all of them.
Are any of your characters based on real people or events? Reality always creeps into my writing. But I’ll never tell what’s what.
How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers? Thrilling fiction, some of it with a paranormal twist.
What’s something fans would find fascinating about you? I collect swords and knives and actually have been trained in Fencing and Kendo. I have over 25 swords displayed in my home and everyone always thinks they’re my husband’s.
How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general? I was a closet writer for a lot of years. Those closest to me knew, and knew it was inevitable that I’d eventually be a published author. Those who didn’t know me that well had no clue until I was published. Then I got a lot of, “I never knew you wrote. When did that happen?” It was always happening, I just chose not to share that part of my life with anyone outside my small circle of family and friends.
Where are you from? Denver born and raised! But I am widely traveled. I have been all over the US, to the Bahamas, and to the UK and Ireland. After all these years Colorado is exactly where I want to be! If I had to move, it would be somewhere up in New England. Massachusetts or Vermont.
How do you come up with the titles? I’m one of those people for whom titles usually come to me during the initial planning stage of a book. There have been a few that stumped me. Saving Sarah May’s initial title was Tribes of Tara. But when I was about 2/3 through the book I changed it.
Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer? I don’t work in an office as much as I used to, and I actually have more time off to spend with my husband and family now.
Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task? While I always have a wide array of projects in various stages completion, I try not to focus on more than 2 projects at a time. Otherwise I spread myself too thin and progress moves too slow.
When not writing, how do you relax? Reading, binge watching television shows on Netflix, hiking, walking, and spending time with my husband.
What kind of kid were you in school? Which social path did you take? I was social pariah in school. I was such a quiet wallflower that I have no doubt few of my classmates actually remember me. I hung out with the nerds and other loners.
Do you have any pets? Two cats!
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you travel? Admittedly I’ve always wanted to see the Sphinx and the pyramids, but I would never travel to a middle Eastern country these days. I’d also like to do a tour of Western Europe. Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii are on my list, too.
Do you have siblings? What was it like growing up with them? I was the middle child. Need I say more?
Do you have a favorite beverage that you drink when you write? I am a coffee girl. And when I’m not filling up on java, I like tea – hot or iced.
What genre of books do you enjoy reading? Do you have a favorite author? I read in every genre, and I have several favorite authors. Joe Hill is currently a favorite, but in the past I’ve been in love with David Eddings and Dana Reed. I have so many favorites I can’t pick just one. I’d feel like a traitor if I did. So many books – so little time!
Please tell us 5 miscellaneous facts about yourself.
- My hair is so fine it won’t hold a curl and has two styles. Flat or pony tail.
- I dress for comfort rather than style.
- I like dill pickles and strawberries – together.
- I am not domestically inclined at all. At. All.
- I hate reality shows.
Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases. My two most recent/upcoming releases are Ascending Darkness (as Audrey Brice), the fourth in my paranormal cozy-mystery series, and Saving Sarah May (as S. J. Reisner), a contemporary romance set in Ireland. My next novel, Taming Trish, is the fourth in an erotic romance series I write as Anne O’Connell.
Where can readers find you?
SAVING SARAH MAY After Sarah's fiancé is killed in Iraq, her life spirals into darkness. In attempt to pull her out of her grief, her friends plan a trip to Ireland to help Sarah heal. But her friends aren't without their own problems. Emily, recently divorced from an abusive ex, is adjusting to her new life as a single parent, and Kate is nursing fresh wounds after her boyfriend dumped her for her sister. For three friends, a trip to Ireland seemed like the idyllic, carefree break from their troubled lives. Instead, the Emerald Isle forces each of them to face her demons head on, to discover herself, find healing, and possibly new love.
SAVING SARAH MAY EXCERPT
Emily waved to Lucy one last time as the cab pulled away from the curb and started down the street.
“So Josh dumped me.” Kate’s voice sounded dejected.
It was the same song and dance all over again. Emily had heard this story at least five times now, maybe six. “Who did you catch this one screwing?”
She let out a heavy sigh, disappointed that she was so transparent. “My sister.”
“Again?” Emily groaned. “You keep going out with the wrong kind of guy. Of course I’m one to talk.”
“Is it just that all men are jerks?” Kate frowned. When she did, she looked much older than her thirty-one years. The frown made her cheeks fall, and her eyes looked tired.
Of course the tired eyes could have also been the result of too much partying, Emily mused.
With a shrug, Emily said, “I think I married an ass, and I think you date jerks. But I still have faith there are good men out there. Just not for me.”
“Ooh!” started Kate with a huge grin. “Maybe we’ll meet some nice Irish men.”
Laughter tumbled from Emily’s throat. “And she’s back on the horse, ladies and gentlemen!”
“I didn’t call Sarah this morning. You don’t think maybe she forgot do you?” Kate seemed suddenly worried.
Running a hand through her long brown hair, Emily shook her head. “She did not forget.”
Sarah had been through so much more than both of them. If Emily could have, she would have given Sam’s life for Eric’s. The gruesome thought made her laugh, but then she remembered that Sam was still Lucy’s dad, and despite all his faults, Lucy loved him. She let out a heavy sigh. “Just remember, no talking about Eric. It’s not that we want her to forget him, but we don’t want her to dwell on him either.”
Kate nodded absently as the cab pulled up to Sarah’s driveway. The For Sale sign in the yard said it was a must see. From the outside, it looked like a tomb. Of course that could have been the gray day, but there from the curb, it didn’t even feel like anyone was home.
Opening the cab door, Kate jumped out. “I’ll go get her.”
Before she reached the steps leading to the porch, the door opened and out came Sarah with her travel bag and one suitcase. That was Sarah, always practical and packing light.
“Do you need help?” Emily called from the car.
“I’ve got it,” she called back with a forced smile. Her dark brown eyes told a different story. They looked haunted.