This interview appeared on Lulu M. Sylvian’s blog – June 2017
Q: If we were have a real in person conversation, where are we? Beach, bar, talk show, radio?
A: I’d have to combine two and say beach bar! We’d enjoy the warmth of the sun while sipping on a frozen daiquiri, listen to sea birds, and watch boats come and go in the harbor. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Q: Tell us about the Jewel intrigue series. Would you describe them as adventure with romantic element or romance with adventure?
A: Well, I’ve been accused of being plot heavy in the books. Like that’s a bad thing or something. *Snort* So I guess I’d have to go with adventure with romantic elements. I suppose there could be some truth to that statement though. I usually work through the plot first. The romance is second. Is that wrong of a romance writer to admit to?
Q: Of the three novels, which hero is your favorite?
A: Holy cow. That’s an impossible question. Each has elements that I’m drawn to, so I love them all. But…don’t tell anyone…I do have a favorite of my three books. It’s Phantom Pearl. Maybe because it’s the latest one, but it’s really more about the storyline – Yamashita’s Gold and a WWII mystery. I was fascinated by the research!
Q: Will there be more Jewel Intrigue books?
A: I hope so. My contract mentions an option for a fourth book, and I’m waiting on word from the publisher. If so, I have a secondary character in my first book…Jason Harvick. He had such a strong personality and kept trying to steal the scenes. Which shows, I guess, because I’ve had several demands to get busy writing his story.
Q: What else have you written?
A: I have a completed YA novel written in the same adventurous style. It’s set in the Amazon River basin in Brazil. But my first book ever was a historical. I love reading them, so naturally I thought it’s what I’d write. Nope. Turns out, it takes a special sort of voice and I honestly don’t have it. Critique partners kept asking me… Have you ever considered writing contemporary? I hadn’t. I eventually gave in though, and switched. That’s when I found my voice.
Q: What can we expect next?
A: I’ve got another adventure series in the planning stage. And I’m working on a mystery collaboration with my critique partner. And of course, book 4 in the Jewel Intrigue novels. Right now though, I’m trying to figure out this newsletter thing. Believe it or not, it’s more daunting to me than the prospect of writing another book!
Q: You are quite an adventurer, how much of your own exploits do you include in your writing?
A: Guilty. I’m constantly doing this. I think all writers draw inspiration from personal experience. You can’t help filtering book events through that lens and I believe it adds flavor to the writing. We can all look at the same thing and see it multiple ways. That’s a great thing!
Q: What has been the most harrowing experience you have encountered so far (facing down lions on safari? Seeing a real bear in the woods while hiking?)
A: I’m not sure. I’m an adventuress, but I do have limits. I don’t like heights, so climbing Mt. Everest isn’t in the cards. Neither is rock climbing. No way. But I’ve never shied away from exploring new places, learning to scuba dive, taking a hot-air balloon ride, or hiking the back country. I’ve been pretty close to Alaska’s brown bears while visiting Katmai National Park, but they weren’t interested in me, they had salmon on the brain. Haven’t yet been on a safari, but it’s on my short list. I can only hope to see lions!
Q: What has been the most exciting adventure you have been on?
A: Oh my word. That’s a tough one. I guess I’d have to go with climbing the ancient Mayan pyramid at Chichén Itzá, in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. We flew from Cancun on a small 10 seater prop plane and landed on a grassy runway carved out of the jungle. It was fantastic. We spent all day exploring the ruins, and topped it off by climbing to the top of the pyramid. Let me tell you, the energy up there is freaky strange, but the view is spectacular. The climb down was steep though, and pretty frightening for someone who doesn’t like heights. There were no guard rails or safety features, nothing but ancient crumbling rock, steep stairs, and a sign that said climb at your own risk. We did. And it was completely worth it.
Q: Where do your characters come from?
A: I start with a loose idea, a type of character, then focus on plot. Once the story begins to form, personalities begin to take shape too. Take book one in my series, Diamond Legacy. I knew my heroine was going to be a dental zoologist. I got the idea from a newspaper article regarding the Nashville zoo. Seems they had an orangutan that needed a root canal and they had to get on a wait list to fly in a vet specialist. WOWZERS! That intrigued me and Miranda Parrish was born. She’d be tops in her field, travel extensively, and have to go to Botswana where she’d stumble into diamond smuggling. I knew the hero would be an undercover agent in the dark world of conflict diamonds and gunrunners, he’d also be driven by a personal vendetta. That’s the way all my books start – shadowy idea of a character, while the plot takes center stage. Eventually that flips.
Q: What was the last book you read?
A: Reading is a luxury anymore. It’s a time thing. But I do have a 45 minute commute to the day job, then 45 back home. So audio books are a Godsend. Last one I listened to was a Steve Berry book. He’s a favorite because his books are a twist of historical mystery and contemporary thriller. Before that it was a Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg novel. They co-write the Fox and O’Hare series. A female FBI agent and a dashing con artist. The books are irresistible!
Q: Do your books have soundtracks that helped to create them? Or what do you listen to when you write?
A: No soundtrack. Music is too distracting. I need quiet in order to concentrate. What I do though, is create a wall of pictures. I print out character images, setting locales, anything and everything that has import in the book. I tape them into a collage on the wall by my computer. For Phantom Pearl I had images of Dallas and Riki, pictures of Australia and Singapore, the crashed WWII plane, the treasure, and locations of all major events. It really helps me visualize the story.
Q: Cake or pie?
A: Pie. Specifically…Key Lime Pie. Food of the Gods.
Q: What’s on your pizza?
A: Funny you should ask. One of my first jobs was a waitress at Pizza Hut. It was a lot of years ago, but one summer they came out with this incredible Taco Pizza. During the rollout we had to wear a sombrero and shout out Ole! whenever someone ordered it. Totally goofy, but the pizza was da bomb. Can’t find anything like it today…but the memory lives on. Sigh…
Q: If you win big on the lottery would you buy a ticket on a Virgin Galactic?
A: Umm…no. I love to fly. Like, for realz. Big planes, little planes, sea planes, helicopters, hot air balloons, even parasailing – I’ve done them all. Skirting the atmosphere on a space flight? I can’t begin to tell you how much that freaks me out. Same with parachuting out of a perfectly good airplane. Never, never, never. Not gonna happen, no matter how rich I become.
Thanks for the interview, Lulu!