Below is the interview that appeared at Venture Galleries
1. What made you decide to become a writer?
I honestly didn’t think that I’d ever become a writer. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on since I was very young but it wasn’t until the last couple of years that I realized I had something to say that maybe someone out there would like to read. When I finished my first book, I didn’t know what to do and it felt strange and surreal when I accepted my first check for a book sale. I didn’t think anyone would want to pay for something I wrote. Now that I finished my series, however, I can’t seem to stop. I have so many ideas swimming around in my head. I’m excited to see where this road is going to take me.
2. Why did you decide to write about teenage topics?
School is where I spend most of my time, so I felt that it was only natural for me to gravitate toward the topics teenagers face. Being a language teacher gives me the opportunity to see what my students are reading. Contemporary and realistic fiction seem to be in the forefront, therefore, I tried to gear my stories toward that audience. I also feel that students get a sense of right and wrong through their reading. I wanted to show them what a dangerous relationship can be like and what to look for or do when they’re being bullied.
3. What was your inspiration for The Bully in ME? Why did you take a different approach and write through the point of view of the bully?
The story wasn’t about bullying initially. It was about childhood friends but I was sitting at home one day a few years ago when a story popped up on the news about bullying. I knew that bullying was happening every day at school but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Taking a different approach was intentional because readers gravitate toward stories that are different. There aren’t many books right now that are written through the eyes of the bully. I did my homework. I wanted to write about bullying to open the doors of discussion.
At present, the topic of bullying is everywhere, in almost every school, on walls, advertisements, and on the news. The voices of the victims can now be heard and people are listening. I wanted people to continue to listen and continue to open those doors that were once closed.
4. What advice would you give teenagers that face bullying in a day to day basis?
My biggest and loudest message is to tell someone. Tell your parents, a teacher, a counselor, a member of the church, anyone who will listen. Be confident and stick to your story. I’ve seen students tell a teacher and when we follow up on it, they change their minds and deny anything ever happened. Unfortunately, they were bullied again. There are people out there that want to help and will help if you ask for it.
5. You decided to make a complete about-face when you went from a male voice to a woman’s perspective. Why did you change?
A few years ago, I got to school early when I heard a commotion outside of my classroom. A student was being pushed against the locker by her boyfriend. When I intervened, she continued to make excuses for his behavior stating that it was her fault to make him so angry. Luckily, this young lady was able to get away from her boyfriend soon after but the story stuck with me. I took that incident and created Linda. The story seemed to have a life of its own and was easy to write once I got started. My husband helped write parts of the book on my first book, but this one was all me. I felt Linda had a voice and I wanted her to be heard.
6. Getting ME Back has been reviewed as a heartbreaking realistic story. Why do you think so many women have been able to relate?
First love is something you always remember and is sometimes very hard to get over. I think women can relate because they’ve been through something similar to Linda’s situation. The gut wrenching emotional roller coaster, which is increased, it seems, in adolescence encompasses all things. When you ask any female around, you’ll find out that there was a little bit of jealousy and possessiveness in most of their relationships. Some women have also been emotionally or physically abused by a husband or a boyfriend. I’ve had many readers say they’ve both laughed and cried while reading the book. It’s been an amazing journey.
7. What is the significance of Fort Stockton, Texas and why did you make that the setting of your books?
Fort Stockton is where I was born and raised. It is very near and dear to my heart. I have very fond (and horrible) memories that originate from there and it's where most of my family was located when I was young. Through the years, my family has scattered, so we rarely get a chance to be together. Other authors have told me to write what you know. I’ve changed store names, street names, and locations of some things just to make them fit into my stories, but the major information of the city is the same.
8. What projects are you working on now?
The Truth About ME is coming out soon. Julie’s story has been somewhat difficult to write not only because of content but because of time constraints as well. Readers have been asking me for an adult continuation of Linda’s story. They want more which is a wonderful thing. I already have the first hundred pages written but I’ve refused to give my readers an idea of where it’s headed. I’m amazed that people hound me daily for updates. They humble me and I appreciate them so much especially on those days where my confidence wanes.
I also have several ideas that will be more fantasy and adult oriented. I’ve been told that I need to write an adult book to get it out of my system. I must talk about this type of book more than I realize. I feel like I have my fingers in so many things and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I want. I know this is just the beginning for me.