Can you tell us about how you started writing fiction? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Writing and creating stories is something I've always loved. Probably the first time I realized there could be a benefit to it, other than entertaining myself and getting good English grades, was in American history class. A teacher said we could use any medium we wanted to do a report on a specific time period—including live presentation, movie, audio, or a traditional term paper. I wrote a fifty page fictional story focused on the woman's suffrage movement and a young woman taking on her first teaching position at an academy in Upstate New York. My teacher loved it. And, from that point on, I added a fictional slant to school projects whenever I could—in all subjects.
Unfortunately, my desire to be a published author was dampened in college when I wasn't encouraged to write fantasy or category romance. But writing remained a creative outlet and something I knew I'd come back to.
Tell us about how you balance writing with the rest of your life?
I've been self-employed for many years and am good at organizing and sticking to a work schedule. I write or work on some aspect of writing every morning and most every evening. Those are the times when my brain is the most creative. Afternoons are devoted to my husband and our antique business—and life in general. Sometimes one thing requires more time and I swap, but I try to return to the same pattern as soon as possible.
What books or authors have been the biggest influences on you? What is your all time favorite book?
Actually, I was a slow reader in the early grades. That changed in fifth grade when a teacher gave me the Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It took my love of poetry and fairytales and showed me how they could be united in a novel. Basically, it spoke to my heart. Then I discovered gothic novels and historical romance, and fell in love with brooding men and windswept manor houses. In high school, I devoured pretty much all the classics—and closet-read romance and paranormal fantasy. But the Last Unicorn remains my favorite.
The Dark Heart series is new adult paranormal. Can you tell us what new adult is?
New adult is a category of fiction that is told from inside the head of a nineteen to twenty-five year old main character. The story can be any genre: contemporary romance, historical, mystery, paranormal . . .. It can be sweet, mildly sexy or erotic. But the story is experienced from the heart and soul of a person between those ages, not from the retrospect of an adult or tempered by a narrator's voice. If you'd like to know the history of how the new adult category came to be and the controversies surrounding it, check out: www.naalley.com.
At the beginning of the Dark Heart series, the romance is just sparking to life, but in the following books it heats up and complicates as Annie moves towards a future she could never have foreseen. To me, thinking you have your future all planned out, and then ending up going someplace totally unexpected is a large part of the new adult experience—whether that twist is something wonderful like an unexpected educational or job opportunity, or depressing like getting your first apartment, then discovering you're unable to pay rent and the bills, and having to claw your way out of poverty . . . the possibilities are limitless.
The paranormal aspect of your novel is unique. Where did you come up with the idea?
I wanted to write a story about the worst possible thing that could happen to a girl who was devoted to her father (and, yes, I was a Daddy's girl). While I was thinking about how to break my main character's heart and soul, I visualized a scene where she was standing in the ocean with an urn full of cremains (a scene which does appear in the novel). These two things became the core of A Hold on Me. After that, I came up with a possible paranormal aspect. But I wanted to take that element deeper, twist it in an unexpected direction, and that's when I started to research both dementia and beliefs from other cultures. From there, the story took on a life of its own.
Annie had plans for her future, but is devoted to her dad. Can you tell us a bit more about her situation and Freemont family?
Annie is twenty years old and at a tough point in her life. Her mother died when she was young and she grew up traveling and dealing antiques with her dad. She's devoted to him, but ready to have a life of her own. She's working toward becoming a licensed fine art appraiser by taking online classes and has been accepted into a prestigious summer program in London. She sees this as a first step toward moving away from her dad and into her own life. But then he's diagnosed with Korsakoff's dementia and she puts her dream on hold to care for him. Unfortunately, Dad's estranged family uses their clout to get custody of him. Annie goes with Dad to the family's estate. She's determined to help him get well, then get back to her plans as fast as possible. Once at the estate, Annie discovers her dad's illness is more terrifying than she believed and that their lives are more tangled up with the family he hates than she ever realized.
How many planned books in the series? Release dates?
There are three novels that will release about six months apart. March 2016, Fall 2016, and Spring 2017. Also readers will want to subscribe to my newsletter because there will be teasers and extras available to subscribers. The subscription link is on my website's contact page.