INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTINA MCDONALD
If you know much about my reading preferences, you KNOW Christina McDonald's work has held a special place in my heart since The Night Olivia Fell. This writer is not only an amazing wordsmith, but she's humble, thoughtful, and appreciative of all her fans. Read below to find out a little more about one of my VERY favorite authors in all the world- Ms. Christina McDonald! (BTW- Her newest book will be released mid-February...don't miss it).
You live in London currently, but I know from other interviews that you’ve spanned the world. What draws you to make your life and raise your family in London, as opposed to other places you’ve resided?
It was really by accident that I ended up here, to be honest. I went traveling shortly after 9/11, as there weren’t any jobs in journalism at the time, which was what I wanted to do. I landed at Heathrow Airport in London completely exhausted and spotted an Aer Lingus desk, and decided in that moment to go to Ireland. I loved it so much I applied to get my master’s degree in Journalism at the National University of Ireland, where I met my future husband. He’s originally from England, so after we’d both graduated, we moved to England.
I’d always planned on going back to America, but London is actually a great place to raise children. It has tons of green space, great schools, an amazing healthcare system. These things become really important once you have kids. And the longer we stayed the more settled we became.
I think all the time about moving back to America to be near my family, but now my boys are 7 and 12 they really resist the idea of moving. They have their own friends here, so it would be a little tricky at this stage. Maybe when I retire! lol
Have you found it more or less challenging to write under quarantine? In what ways?
It’s definitely harder! I’m homeschooling both my kids, and my 7-year-old in particular needs a structured day and a lot of focused attention. He’s just too young to teach himself. So that means to write I have to get up at 5 or 6am to write for a few hours before they wake up and I have to start homeschooling. Then after they’ve gone to bed, I get back to it for an hour or two. It’s pretty exhausting!
You’ve written three novels- The Night Olivia Fell, Behind Every Lie, and your upcoming book, Do No Harm. Do you have a favorite? If so, which is it and why?
Do No Harm comes out on February 16th in both the US and the UK. While I love all of my books, my favorite book is always the one I’m currently working on. I think it’s important to have that enthusiasm and to always think ‘this book is the best book I’ve ever written’, otherwise it would be difficult to get invested in writing nearly 100,000 words. lol
As a fellow dog lover, I’d be remiss to not mention Tango the dog in our time together. Can you give us an update on how she’s doing these days? Has a pet ever acted as an inspiration to your writing?
Tango is the best and she is such a huge part of our lives! She’s my only kid who doesn’t argue or cause any problems ever. Lol We take her for a walk every day, and she gets a lot more time to play with the boys than before, so she’s loving having them at home.
One of the great things about Tango is that she shares her love so equally. She’ll sleep by my side of the bed one night, my husband’s the next, then by one boy the next night and the other the night after that. She rotates so fairly! I wonder what makes her know to do it, because that equality really means so much to my kids. We also have a kitten, Luna, who sleeps wherever Tango sleeps, so that’s an extra animal bonus. J
Do you have an interesting or unusual quirk or habit you enact while you’re in the throes of penning a novel?
Not really. I’m actually very structured when I’m writing. In normal times I start writing first thing in the morning while my husband takes the boys to school. Of course, right now, I get up early before they do to write for a few hours. I make sure I don’t check social media or look at the news, that way my brain stays fresh, like a blank canvas. I’m not a plotter, so I don’t plan what I write ahead of time. I just show up and write whatever I’m imagining that day!
Which of your main characters from any of your novels could you see yourself being best friends with in real life?
I’m not sure who I would be best friends with, but I think I see the most of myself in Olivia, from The Night Olivia Fell. I remember so well what it was like falling in love for the first time as a teenager, and all that teenage angst of being in high school. A lot of that went into writing Olivia’s character.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken with your writing that has paid off?
Writing anything is a risk, because you never know for sure if you’re going to get published or if people will love it or if it will be successful. That being said, after I sold the rights to The Night Olivia Fell, I decided to quit my full-time job and focus on writing as my day job, and I think that’s paid off because of all the rewards I get from writing. It’s my dream job!
As a USA Today bestselling author, what are your words of advice to new writers striving for publication or other individuals attempting to reach a particular goal?
Writing comes with a lot of rejections, but the only way you’ll definitely fail is if you stop. Keep at it, keep writing, keep taking all of your life experiences and distilling them into your work. Persist. Don’t give up. You don’t succeed just by being motivated; you have to be dedicated.
But also, and I think this part is important too, try not to view writing as the only thing that defines your identity. Speaking from experience, when your writing is intertwined with the notion of your value of a person, you’re going to have a tough time. It’s important as writers that we put our value into what we create, not by the attention it gets.
**Thank you, Christina, for your willingness to speak with me! Learn more about her and her work at www.christina-mcdonald.com.
INTERVIEW WITH SARAH ROBINSON
For those of you who are not aware, Sarah Robinson has quickly risen to the ranks of top authors for me. Her latest book EVERY LAST DROP is beyond AMAZING. Run, don't walk, to grab you a copy of this. Sarah was so kind as to provide me with a little interview and insight into her career and personal life. She's down-to-earth and never hesitates to help out a newbie novelist like myself. Here we go...
How did you get started writing novels? What prompted your first novel?
I began writing poetry in high school as a form of self-expression. This led to some publications in literary journals and local publications. Eventually a freelance writing job led to me being asked to write short stories, and then longer stories, and then novels. I'd honestly never considered being an author before because it felt like an unattainable goal. I didn't even know I could dream about it. But I took the opportunity and wrote my first book, and it's all kept going since then! Looking back, I wish someone had told me as a child that writing could be a career.
What’s your personal favorite of all the books you’ve written?
My top two favorite books that I've written are Every Last Drop (standalone women's fiction) and Nudes (interconnected standalone romance). The reason I love these two books the most is that they hit me emotionally the hardest, and they both have a strong empowerment message for women, and humans in general. I love writing with a message, and writing in a way to make people think and challenge their previous notions.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge for you as a writer?
Finding time to write, be a full-time new mom to a baby with intense medical concerns, be a full-time therapist, and somehow still manage to sleep. Juggling work/life balance is hard and sometimes responsibilities get dropped.
You are a new mom. Has that changed your writing routine or your stories at all?
Absolutely. I still managed to write 3 books during my pregnancy and I've written one book plus some other writing projects in the nine months since she's been born. Looking back though, I'm not sure how I'm juggling it all. I just write when I can and when I'm not too tired. That's all I can do!
What author inspires you the most?
I don't think that there is one answer to that, but the authors I look up to the most are the ones who are always willing to help and answer questions for newbie authors. This isn't a competition, this is a community and the people who understand that and help lift up one another are my favorite people.
**Check out all of Sarah's works at
INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL CAMPBELL
Today, we sit down with author Cheryl Campbell and learn a little more about her writing.
How long did it take to write your first book?
My first novel took me about three years to write. Five years if you could the first two of it rumbling around in my head and scribbled notes before I actually started putting something with substance down on paper. I pantsed my way through that first novel, so it ended up with loads of revisions and taking a while to pull together. I have since tweaked my writing style, so I'm much more organized and can complete a novel in right around a year's time.
What do you love most about your current novel?
I love the evolution of the protagonist, Dani Ireland. She's a survivor and fiercely independent (to the point of pushing others away to her own detriment) with a foul mouth and a hot temper. Her life circumstances change change and though she is a non-human, she exhibits a level of humanity and kindness that some of the actual humans in the story don't possess. Dani is an expert at surviving as a scavenger on a war-ravaged Earth, but she begins to learn how to live.
What is your quirkiest hobby?
I recently decided to teach myself how to paint with oils using paint knives, no brushes. I was struck by the beauty of it, and I've played around with learning how to do it myself. I end up with more paint on me than the canvas, but that is okay. I have a blast making a mess.
What are some of your favorite authors/books?
N.K. Jemisin has world building like I've never seen done before. The Broken Earth trilogy ranks up there with some of the best books I've ever read. I'm also a huge Martha Wells fan. Tolkien was my first trip into ready fantasy novels, so there's a soft spot in my heart for anything Tolkien.
INTERVIEW WITH PATRICE LOCKE
I am pleased to bring to you the input from a recent interview with the lovely Patrice Locke, author of several wonderful works of women's fiction.
Is writing your first profession?
Yes it is. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University. I worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers and radio stations for several years. Then I taught English from mid-school to college level. I'm now writing full-time--fiction, which allows for the happy endings journalism sometimes doesn't.
What are the favorite bodies of your work and why?
I have published three books. The one I'm working on is always my favorite. I think it has to be, though, I loved each project as it worked itself out. I'm not a planner when it comes to writing, so the process can be slow for me. I do lots and lots of rewrites and revisions, because the story takes shape for me as I go along. I always start with a big idea, but the roads to form that idea into a story have many forks and construction zones during the process. It's challenging, but one of my favorite things about writing.
From where do you derive writing inspiration?
My ideas just occur to me. The pivotal scene in EXIT SIGNS came to me in the Denver Airport where I was waiting for a flight. I imagined what would happen if two former lovers ran into each other and revealed some secrets that changed everything. For FRESH START, the initial idea was to write a character completely unlike myself--she's so confident that any sort of defeat isn't even in her vocabulary. Until she blows it all and has to change everything about herself. HAPPIEST MARRIAGE happened when I couldn't stop thinking about the EXIT SIGNS characters and wondered what they were up to three years later.
Tell us a little about your newest work.
My newest book is called THE HAPPIEST MARRIAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. It was released May 1st by Soul Mate Publishing. It's a story about a woman who seems to "have it all," but can't stop worrying that she could lose it all at any minute. Despite that dire sounding predicament, it's mostly a comedy.
INTERVIEW WITH VIRGINIA MCCULLOUGH
I sat down with Ms. Virginia McCullough to discuss her experiences and her books. She's a remarkably successful individual with some fantastic literature out there. Below is an excerpt from our conversation together.
Tell us something interesting or quirky about you.
For years, my friends have seen me as an eccentric ghostwriter of nonfiction books, and the keeper of all kinds of tidbits of information I've picked up from my clients. I worked with experts on an amazing array of topics from scientific studies on the sense of smell to near-death experiences to cancer treatments. On the other hand, it always comes to a surprise to people that I spent seven years living on a sailboat and had a sailing adventure with my kinds and their dad. I wouldn't trade those supertanker/sailboat ocean adventures for anything, and I've found ways to bring sailing/boating into books, most notably ISLAND HEALING, and LOVE, UNEXPECTED.
Where do you find your inspiration for writing?
It sounds like a cliche, but I've always considered myself lucky because I love to write- I enjoy the process itself, which provides inspiration. It can get tough to get a book right, but there's nothing quite like taking an idea and running with it. Ideas come from living and observing. Other writers inspire me, too. I try to capture ideas, and I force the books to line up and wait their turn before I can give it all my attention.
What is the most interesting writing project with which you have been affiliated to date?
My novels are all sources of fascination to me, of course, but one of my coauthored nonfiction books, THE OXYGEN REVOLUTION, was a true labor of love. It's about hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), and my coauthor, Dr. Paul Harch, is a pioneer in the field. His passion about HBOT drew me into the project. He and others have expanded uses of the technique to include traumatic brain injuries, stroke, and other neurological conditions. He's conducted studies with our returning soldiers suffering with post traumatic stress disorder, with important and truly life-changing results.
At what age did you begin writing novels?
It's easier to say I started reading novels as a little girl who brought a small, very beat-up suitcase to the library to carry her books back and forth. I started writing nonfiction first, then dabbled in fiction here and there in my 30s and 40s, but those bad drafts aren't fit to read, let alone publish. I'm happiest when I'm writing fiction, so I'll always make space for both women's fiction and romance- and now I'm contemplating a historical series.
If you could choose only one non-essential item (Essential = food, clothing, etc.) to retain for six months, what would it be?
I've been told that sodalite, such a beautiful blue stone, is associated with communication and writing. I love stones. I already have a lovely chunk of it on my desk.
Tell us a little about your upcoming book release.
I'm excited about the August release of A FAMILY FOR JASON, Book 1 of my new series for Harlequin Heartwarming, Back to Bluestone River. Bluestone River is a town that's been down on its luck for too long, but it may be ready for a comeback. A FAMILY FOR JASON is the story of Ruby and Mike, high school sweethearts with big plans. A tragedy- some also called it a scandal- ruined their chance for a future. But twenty years after graduation, Ruby and Mike each have a reason to return to Bluestone River. At its heart, the book is a reunion story. Books 2 and 3 also tell the stories of a few of Ruby and Mike's classmates. Each of the three books ends on a holiday, which is a fun element to use.
As an aside, A FAMILY FOR JASON is a favorite book of mine, as is Book 1 of my previous Two Moon Bay series, GIRL IN THE SPOTLIGHT. I got to use my love of figure skating to create a different type of reunion story.
Thank you, Virginia, for sharing your thoughts with us. Her books can be found on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, or at many of your local book sellers.
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