Author Interview

I thought I’d post some of the answers to interview questions I’ve been asked. Enjoy!

Do you listen to music while you write, or do you prefer silence?
Most of the time I’m obsessed with music; I craft elaborate playlists/soundtracks specific to the stories, and characters. Every once in a while, though, I find that I need complete silence to focus. Other times, I need to listen to just one song, over and over, for days. Sometimes I can watch a DVD or downloaded TV show on one half of my laptop screen while I write.

Favorite Music?
I know almost nothing about popular/rock music. I listen to a lot of techno ambient, world music, and electronica, particularly epic trance. I also like a lot of soundtrack music and Irish music, Bulgarian chant, and other ethnic music. Some favorite songs: Mainline – Innerspace, Bluetech – Worthy, Azam Ali – Endless Reverie, Delerium – Silence (including the Tiesto remix). Other artists: Tim Story, Harold Budd, DJ Tiesto, Schiller, Vas, Niyaz, VNV Nation, Lycia, Nickleback, Jose Amnesia, Loreena McKennitt, Enya, Clannad, Adiemus…way too many to list.

I’ve also been recently enjoying Pagan music by artists Sharon Knight, SJ Tucker, Kellianna, Heather Dale, Spiral Rhythm, and Tuatha Dea.

What is your favorite movie?
I can’t pick just one. I’m a huge fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, particularly Return of the Jedi. Classic 80’s fantasy such as the Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Legend, Ladyhawke. Other favorites include the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Matrix, the Harry Potter movies especially the later/darker ones, Batman Begins, the Dark Knight. I love Galaxy Quest, that’s my favorite comedy, though Spaceballs is still good.

I like epic sword battles and things that blow up, and I’m willing to put up with some cheese and bad writing. I like Braveheart, the Patriot, Independence Day, Conan, Dune…you get the picture.

Favorite Shows:
Shows: I haven’t had a TV in 8 years, but I watch shows online. Farscape, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Grimm, Star Trek, Clone Wars, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Spartacus, Highlander, Forever Knight, Dresden Files, Firefly, True Blood (new) Dr. Who, Full Metal Alchemist and a bunch of other Anime. Right now I’m going through all of Star Trek Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager on Hulu. Anything science fiction or fantasy is usually interesting to me.

What is your favorite book?
Fiction: I’ve always loved The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through by Stephen R. Donaldson. Just about anything by Anne McCaffrey, particularly the story Moreta. Also Sherrilyn Kenyon, Karen Marie Moning, Emma Holly, Janny Wurtz, Katherine Kurtz, Katherine Kerr, Charles de Lint. Some Mercedes Lackey, David Eddings.

Nonfiction: Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Jean Houston, Angeles Arrien, John and Caitlin Matthews, Robert Moss. Books on shamanism, facilitating rituals, sacred temples, trance work, leadership, experience design, usability, graphic design, sacred geometry, sustainable living, leadership, Celtic myth and legend, sacred symbolism, mythology, history, and the Grail Quest.

What do you spend a lot of time thinking about?
Artwork, writing, music, facilitating classes and rituals, planning events. Divine communion and spirituality. I have a lot of intensity, drive, and creativity; I’m usually always working on something, and I love talking about projects, figuring things out. I get excited about my work, and I enjoy getting excited about what others are passionate about too.

What are you really good at? What do you enjoy doing?
I spend a lot of my time writing novels and articles, creating, making artwork, designing. I plan events, lead rituals for the Pagan/earth centered/shamanic/alternative spirituality community, and I travel to teach workshops on how to lead workshops, how to lead rituals, and how to lead groups. I love the spiritual and creative work that I do, and it’s a lot of the focus of my life.

I’m good at making things, figuring things out, making white board diagrams of complex concepts. Not much I can’t figure out with time. I also love creating worlds, working with my characters whether that’s writing a story, or painting them, or coming up with a music playlist that articulates that character.

On a typical weekend evening you are…
Painting, writing, or out of town teaching at some Pagan festival or teaching a weekend intensive.

What’s a cause that’s really important to you?
I’m really serious about sustainable/green living. I currently work hard to reduce my impact on the environment, and eventually would like to live on some communal land that was a retreat center to further reduce my impact.
Something private you’re willing to admit?
I teach classes and do a lot of public speaking, but I’m actually really shy. I can be awkward in social settings. Like dating, or parties. I find those to be really challenging sometimes. However, when I teach public speaking, I tell shy people all the time that, if I can do it, anybody can! I enjoy public speaking a lot. It just takes a lot out of me, and I’m still pretty shy at the core. I have a hard time making the first move to go introduce myself to someone at a social event, even when I’m the headline speaker!

Do you believe the glass is half-full or half-empty?
I like to believe the glass is half-full. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say…most of the time I’m an optimist. I believe in the possibility of amazing things. But, I have to admit that when I see bad things in the world, I lose my faith in humanity. I have always been a little oversensitive that way. I once heard that a pessimist is an optimist with a broken heart. I always eventually point my compass back to “glass is half-full,” though sometimes I have to get over a little heartbreak first.

What do you do to celebrate a new book contract?
I write more; it’s really inspiring to have a piece accepted for publication. Sometimes if I’m burned out on writing, I’ll read a romance novel. Sherrilyn Kenyon, Emma Holly, and Karen Marie Moning are pretty often on my reading rotation.

What is your zodiac sign? Do you feel it is an accurate description of you?
I’m a Gemini. I’d say that it’s accurate to a point; I certainly am a nerd for words and communication. I’m not really as bubbly or vapid as sometimes gets associated with Gemini.

For that matter, I’m actually an introvert, so I like a lot of alone time; people who meet me when I’m in introvert mode wouldn’t ever guess I’m a Gemini. People who see me teaching a workshop or who see how much writing I do, usually have no problems seeing me as a Gemini.

What is your favorite season? Why?
Probably autumn; where I grew up, it’s very misty, and there’s this warm foggy drizzle that probably inspires all those Celtic genes of mine. However, every year I also fall in love with that first warm spring rain and the scent of that rain, knowing that winter’s cold is over.

What is your favorite part about writing (drafting, editing, plotting, promoting, etc)?
I think my favorite part of writing is when I have the initial idea for a piece. When I write out the first few scenes that I have clearly in my mind…or when I hear that perfect piece of music that tells me how a certain scene will play out and I’m inspired to write the scene right then.

Any addictions (chocolate, coffee, tv shows, collectibles, shoes, etc.)?
Fabric, art supplies, and decorative supplies for rituals. I love hunting out cool things at thrift stores.

Do you have a favorite snack food while you write? What is it?
Ten years ago I would have said lots of soda, hotpockets, and mini pizzas. These days, I’m kind of a health food nut; I drink a lot of water, I eat salads, I eat meat and eggs. Basically, no wheat, no dairy, low carb, low sugar, no aspartame…no processed food of any kind. I used to fervently believe that soda made me a better writer/artist/designer, but I now know that eating healthy leads to far more energy for writing.

I will admit that my love knows no bounds for dark chocolate almond milk, and for Bolthouse vanilla chai protein drink. When I’m craving ice cream or fast food, I go for a protein drink and that seems to do the trick.

Favorite type of food?
Hmmmm…favorite food that I can actually eat would be barbecue ribs or brisket. I love a good steak. Favorite foods that aren’t any longer on my menu unless I’m willing to suffer the health side effects are deep dish spinach pizza, cheese ravioli, and a cheese steak sub sandwich. Every once in a while I’ll go off my food plan and eat something terrible for me. But barbecue…oh, barbecue. I could sing the song of barbecue. And Bolthouse protein drink. Or freshly squeezed orange juice.

Do you like sports? What’s your favorite sports team?
Nope, not really a sports fan. Hockey is somewhat entertaining, but I think it’s more fun because I’m waiting for the teams to get ticked off and throw things at each other. I’d rather watch a bunch of swordfighters at the Ren Faire or martial arts.

Where would you go on your dream vacation? Have you been there before?
My dream vacation would be a pilgrimage in the British Isles and some of Europe. Newgrange, Stonehenge, Glastonbury Tor, Avebury, Chartres Cathedral, Carnac, Malta…all the old megaliths call to me in a particularly powerful way.

Where in the world are you from?
I grew up in southeastern Wisconsin, and I’ve spent time living around the Midwest including Minneapolis, St. Louis, a very brief stint in Kansas City, but primarily I’ve lived in Chicago.