I can go on for hours and hours when I’m writing about a character and spilling all of their secrets. But when it comes to writing about myself, I am reluctant. The traits that make me a writer are those same traits that have given me problems over the years; problems with relationships, in the workplace and general miscontent. I have been blessed with, or cursed with, an inquisitive personality, borderline nosey-busy-body-syndrome, a sharp memory for mundane details and word-for-word recollection of conversations and arguments. Add a tendency to take all of this and twist it into whatever type of story I need to entertain my bored mind and a overdeveloped drive to turn a job into a major project.
Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?
I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania in the 60’s and some of us girls were brought up to work in factories and have babies. But in the 70’s, opportunities for women seemed to be expanding and we saw there was more to life than knitting mills and cleaning jobs. It took me a while to figure that out, though. I had a wonderful English composition teacher in high school who encouraged me to write but I never followed it up. When I was 25, after 7 years in the factories and one failed marriage, I was very, very lucky to receive a scholarship and go to college. But I gave myself no permission to write professionally. That was a luxury that normal working folk couldn’t afford. Now, in my fifties, I am blessed with a significant other who supports my work. This has been key to my present project.
Historical fiction was not my choice of reading material in the past. I was never particularly fond of history either. Living in Germany for the last 25 years has made me curious as to what makes the German society as a whole tick. The tragic 20th century has been well documented but the roots of those tragedies lie much deeper in the county’s history. The more I dug, the more information I found. This shaped the characters whose stories I wanted to tell to an English speaking audience.
What in particular fascinates you about 17th Century Germany?
Germany in the early 17th century was inconveniently situated in the middle of a larger conflict. The period before and during the Thirty Years War is also well-researched and documented. But the history books are mostly written by learned men or men of the church. I feel a lot of those views are biased. Imagine what people will think in 400 years when they read what we are writing now! I wanted to portray what normal people, especially women, were thinking and feeling, how they lived and loved and what motivated them in the early modern period.
Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
The Sichardtshof farm, the main setting in The Master and the Maid, was a real farm in Franconia, Germany from the 1300’s until its dismantling in the 1800’s. The area that it covered is still a haunting place that inspired me. I spent a lot of time there. The Heaven’s Pond story itself began with a type of fairy tale that I wrote in 2009. This tale became the core of the story of Isabeau, the main character in the whole of the Heaven’s Pond saga. And because I was not satisfied with just a short story, it turned into a three-book trilogy.
Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?
The turning point of this project was 2015. The Master and the Maid had been professionally edited and self-published in 2012. I had run out of steam shortly after its publication and neglected promotion. Yes, that is poison for any publication of this sort. I was once again in my life very, very lucky to come in contact with Bathsheba Monk of Blue Heron Book Works in Allentown, PA through my best friend Betsy Souders and author Larry Neff. Bathsheba and I have the same vision for this project and together we have made this the novel it is today.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
The Master and the Maid was just released in May 2016. Right now, I am in marketing overdrive. I’m not sure how well I’m balancing this. The next two novels are in the revision stage. I spend a lot of time blogging, researching, making lists and setting priorities. I am planning the next project that I would like to start by plotting in October and writing the first draft in November with NaNoWriMo. And then I run away from it all by traveling. Germany is a beautiful country and we are making short documentary videos on certain aspects of the country that interest us and / or pertain to the books. Check out our YouTube channel! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3c-yIyoN-UprxB15L5l8zA
What song would you pick to go with your book?
The first book could be accompanied by the whole album Amnesiac by Radiohead.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I read everything I can get my hands on and I get bored really easily. My favorite things to read are flash fiction and blogs by fellow authors on every subject that they write about. I read a lot on my phone anymore. Because I have to read a lot of non-fiction for research purposes, I don’t read as many novels as I would like to. But right now my one decadent pleasure is Sherlock Holmes. I have the complete works on my Kindle. And we’re watching the series with Jeremy Brett. Wonderful.