BayouShadows1.  Tell us about your latest published book and your current writing project.

             Bayou Shadows is set in New Orleans, before Katrina, and is an adventure filled with suspense, action and romance.  For Stacy Stimmons, a gutsy young reporter for the Times- Picayune who grew up in the swamps, getting out of those swamps and building a career to claim her independence is a consuming obsession. 

            While working on a newspaper article, she becomes involved with Ryan Townsend, a budding attorney with eyes on “cleaning-up” Louisiana politics.   Devastation follows when Stacy discovers that Ryan is entangled in Mafia drug trafficking.          

            Believing the romance is doomed, but to secure a story assignment that could catapult her career to success, she enters his world and becomes involved in a dangerous drug bust gone bad, both become targets of the underworld.  The adventure that ensues takes them from New Orleans to Jamaica where survival depends on their wit and reliance on each other.

            My current project, Carolina Shadows, is a suspense that takes place in the N.C. Mountains about a young woman put on trial for the murder of her husband in Houston.  She returns to the mountains, revives the horse farm that her aunt has left her only to discover that danger has followed her from Houston and, of course, you know that there is a romance.

2.  You’ve reinvented yourself from mother to business woman to equestrian to writer.   How has that infused your writing?     

            I was Executive Vice President and Comptroller for an engineering corporation that my husband and I owned in Houston.  My daughter and I decided to take up riding. Little did my husband know that he would end up driving the trailer, mucking the stall, and cheering us on at the show ring; but he did so—magnificently.    

            When we sold the business and finished traveling, I began to write. Writing allows me to learn about anything, can be done anywhere, and what I learned from the riding world, I incorporate into my books.

 3.  What attracts you to writing suspense?

            Writing suspense is a way of experiencing the excitement of danger without putting myself, or my reader, in real danger.  It allows me to learn about forensics, police procedure and things that fascinate me; but the most important reason is that the “bad guys” will get punished.  In real life, this isn’t always the case.  Somewhere between the pages, the puzzle will be solved, justice handed out, and good will triumph over evil.

4.  What was the biggest lesson you learned in earning your Masters Degree in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill?

      The confidence to rely on my own intuitions and knowledge in my writing.

5.  Writing is hard.  What tricks do you apply to keep going?

            Go to a conference or workshop.  The enthusiasm of other writers and the fact that there’s always something new to learn spurs me on. 

6.  Do you plot ahead or write “by the seat of your pants”?  Why?

            I use both methods.  I wouldn’t drive across country without a road map.  At the same time, I wouldn’t want to give up exploring interesting places I might stumble upon along the way.

 7.  When and where do you do your best writing?

         My professional life gave me the “get to work by nine” habit and it has served me well.  I’m literally a closet writer.  My home at Banner Elk had an eight by ten foot closet in a guest bedroom.  Took out all the shelving, put in electrical outlets, my computer center and did the remaining walls in bookshelves for my research materials.  I don’t sit in a chair.  I sit on a big green exercise ball that keeps my back from becoming tired.  All my writer friends have to try it out when they come to the house.  The best part about writing in a closet is that if company drops in, all I have to do is shut the doors.

8.  How did you get started in writing?

        My daughter was interested in becoming a writer.  There was a Romance Writer’s Conference in Houston.  She didn’t want to go alone so she asked me.  We were fortunate enough to get to sit at the luncheon table with several well known authors and they were having so much fun discussing writing. 

      What impressed me most was that they were ordinary women that had found something that they were excited about doing.  I came away with the feeling that if they could do it, so could I.  I was hooked.  I began taking courses, workshops, attending conferences, and reading everything I could get my hands on about writing. 

9.  Of the minor characters you’ve created, who is your favorite and why?

            My stories always seem to have a crusty, wise old man. I pattern this character after my granddad who loved to tease and had a way of imparting truth in one-line parables—whether you liked it or not.

 10.  Tell us about your part of the country – we love to travel.

            Houston is a flat, fast paced city with a “can-do” attitude.  We don’t miss the traffic, or the humidity and heat, but we do miss the wonderful friends and employees we had there.

11.  How did you meet your husband? (We love a romance.)

            I got my husband at the place where you get all the necessities of life—the grocery store.  He was sixteen and working at the store while I was fourteen and wearing shorts and majorette boots.  I think it was the tassels that got him.

 12. What is your favorite southern food?

            I love Creole cooking, whether it’s Pompano en Papillotte or a simple Seafood Gumbo.  Have been known to board a plane in Houston and go to New Orleans for lunch, stay for dinner, and fly back to Houston that evening.