2. What brought you to Tennessee?
I was born here and have lived in East Tennessee all my life except for a short stent in LA, where my husband is from. I couldn’t get used to the flat land and brown air and people on top of people. I missed the mountains and lakes so much, I had to come back.
3. How did Natasha of your Bodyguard series come to you?
I was driving home from a book fair, trying to think of a protagonist for a series, and the idea popped into my head. With a bodyguard character, I have at my disposal a multitude of clients she can protect leading to a plethora of situations she can get into. I wanted her to be Southern, young (so she can mature as the series does) and kick-butt. Hence, Natasha Chamberlain was born.
4. Tell us what you have in store for Natasha (last time she protected a rock star).
My next book, which is slated for publication this year, she’s guarding a slimy defense attorney who’s been targeted by the head of a criminal organization.
5. Do you outline and plot ahead? Why/why not?
I’m what is considered a “pantser”. I never outline or plot ahead. I start writing and let the characters take the story wherever it’s going to go because it’s so much more interesting that way and I’ve learned it works better for me. If I have a mental wrestling match with my protag, trying to go one way when she wants to go the other, she always wins and the only thing I’ve accomplished is loss of time and a flare-up of carpal tunnel. I never write sequentially and many times write the last chapter first and then jump around. My final steps are putting the chapters in order and doing a chapter-by-chapter outline to make sure I have the time frames, scenes, etc. where they need to be and that everything flows. I’ve tried to write chronologically, but every time I do, a wall goes up. I guess I’m not a linear thinker.
6. What keeps you from giving up writing?
Um, pure idiocy? Kidding. It’s simply the fact that I can’t not write. When an idea starts banging around in my head, the pressure builds until I have to write it or go nuts. This field is so competitive and so tilted toward not being successful, it’s almost impossible not to get discouraged. If I didn’t love writing so much, I’m sure I would have given up a long time ago.
7. You donate proceeds from the sales of your books to a Weimaraner rescue group and offer your books at rescue fund raisers. How did you become involved in Weimaraner rescue? What do you love about this particular breed?
I joined Wolf Creek Weimaraner Rescue as a volunteer shortly after its inception because they are so committed to saving these special dogs. We’ve seen some tragic cases but it’s a beautiful thing to watch a Weim blossom under Wolf Creek’s care and subsequently be placed in a forever home. Weimaraners rate high in regards to abandonment or neglect, simply because people don’t research them before they purchase them. These are high-energy dogs that require much quality time with their families. The thought of these beautiful dogs – well, any animal – being mistreated or ending up in a kill shelter not only horrifies me but makes me very angry. I became a true dog lover when my husband gave me a Weimaraner pup for my birthday several years ago. I fell for this breed and fell hard. Weims are called Velcro dogs because they attach themselves to their families and are not happy unless they are interacting with that family. They’re affectionate, loyal, protective, and intelligent but very manipulative. We’ve since rescued five other dogs: two more Weims, two black Labs, and an Australian Blue Heeler. I encourage anyone considering adding a pet to their family to think about adopting or rescuing. Help save a life, please.
8. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met at a book signing or event?
I met the original Marlboro Man, William Thourlby, at a book festival and he is still gorgeous! By the way, he told me he was never a smoker. He writes self-help books, and when he found out I write humorous fiction, he encouraged me to continue on that path. He’s a wonderful storyteller, and I enjoyed spending time with him.
9. Tell us about your favorite southern food.
Oh, shoot, that’s hard. Banana pudding. No, maybe it’s peach cobbler..
10. Where’s the spot in your home or nearby you run to when you want a moment alone?
My office. The door locks.
11. How did you meet your husband? (We love a romance!)
Okay, this is going to sound weird, but it’s not illegal. Honest! My husband is my stepmother’s nephew, so let me clarify, this is our only familial relationship and we are not related by blood. Steve came to Tennessee from California to visit his aunt (my stepmother), we met, and that was it for me. I was the quintessential goody two-shoes, raised by Southern Baptist parents, and he was the complete opposite, a real wild guy. He sported long hair, tattoos, rode a motorcycle, and smoked more than cigarettes if you get my gist. Needless to say, my mom and dad just about died when I started dating him. Now he’s morphed into a good ole Southern boy and both my parents adore him. Go figure.
12. What advice do you have for new writers?
Persevere. Never give up. Keep pushing forward, keep learning the craft, keep writing, but most of all, enjoy the journey and have fun.