When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?
I’ve been writing forever, so I honestly have no idea what the first one was! My mom still talks about a story I wrote when I was 8 or 9 for a school assignment. It had a girl on an adventure through Leprechaun Land (the assignment was for St. Patrick’s Day), and I have no idea where the inspiration for that came from, but I’ve always liked creating magical worlds.
I wrote a 60-page murder mystery with a romantic subplot for a short story assignment when I was 12 that was absolutely inspired by all the Agatha Christie books I was reading around that time and the romances I’d just begun to read. That was also when I decided I would be an author when I grew up. As I got into high school, more of what I wrote was fantasy romance. I loved fantasy, but I needed more happily ever afters in them!
Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?
My day job schedule isn’t consistent, so I write whenever I can find the time. I do write every day, and I have daily word count goals to try to keep myself on track.
Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?
I don’t outline. I’m not a strict planner. For every new manuscript, I pull out a new notebook—which I pick out from the stack of pretty notebooks I’ve collected based on if it feels right for the story (it’s a little strange, I know). In the notebook, I first scribble out anything I know about the story. It’s usually broad strokes at this point. Then I try to get to know my characters. I write everything I know about them and try to figure out as much as I can.
I don’t need to know every detail of the plot to write, but I do need to know my characters. I also make notes on the world, if I need to. A Dance of Water and Air starts a new series set in a new world with a different magic system, so I did a lot of figuring that out before I started writing. Once I’ve gone as far as I can, I start writing and figure out the rest as I go. I jump around, so I have to put everything together at the end and make sure it flows. And make sure everything is consistent because sometimes things change as I write.
Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?
I mostly followed the characters to it. I had an idea that became my first published book, The Prince’s Consort, which was a gay romance. I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves love and hope and joy and happily ever after and deserves to see that in books.
I hope my books can bring a little more of that into the world. I’ve been writing more stories with demisexual characters lately—both A Dance of Water and Air and my previous book, The Merchant’s Love, have demisexual main characters—because I want more of them. I’ve always tried to write the stories I want to read.
How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?
How much research depends on the book. I tend to research random things as I go along. With A Dance of Water and Air, I fell down the research rabbit hole briefly when I was thinking about the elemental magic system I was creating. It was all really interesting, though it didn’t all make it into the book. As for giving authentic voices to characters, I think talking with people and reading widely are so important.
What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?
The title! I’m horrible at titles. I love naming characters. Names have always interested me (I got some strange looks as a teenager buying baby name books at my local bookstore, but I was fascinated by meanings and origins and connotations), and picking the right name for each character is one of my favorite things.
Titles can be bad though. I either am struck with inspiration once the book is mostly written, or I’m struggling for weeks and begging for help. My mom actually came up with the title for my first book.