Okay, please tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
I’m a homeschool alumnus who grew up surrounded by books. I lived in my own little world as a kid. I was always playing at something, imagining I was a captured WWII pilot or a world champion barrel racer or the kidnapped daughter of a gunfighter. The great thing about being a writer is that you never have to outgrow that childlike make-believe. One day, when I was about thirteen, I decided to start writing down my favorite stories, only to discover that I enjoyed the writing part just as much as the making believe part. I published my first book, the historical western A Man Called Outlaw, in 2007. I haven’t looked back since.
2. What keeps you writing?
Writing is sort of like spontaneous combustion for me. It just happens. “I write therefore, I am,” or perhaps even more accurately, “I am, therefore I write.” I would write even if no one bought and read a book. I would write if I never earned a dime from it. In fact, if I had to, I would probably pay for the pleasure. Writing is a way of both expressing and discovering myself. I learn as much about life in my writing as I put what I learn from life into the writing. So really, it isn’t so much a question of what keeps me writing as it is what could keep me from writing?
3. How has being homeschooled affected your writing?
Honestly, I can’t think of anything about being homeschooled that hurt my writing. The flexibility of a homeschool curriculum allowed me to learn in the manner best suited to both my personality and my interests. I seriously doubt I would have had nearly as much time to devote to my writing (I ran a newsletter called Horse Tails throughout high school) had I attended public school. It also encouraged the self-discipline and ability to work by and for myself—skills that have become more and more important, the further I advance in my writing career.
4. Which book has been your favorite book to write so far and why?
To paraphrase Dickens, authors aren’t supposed to have their favorite children, but my medieval epic Behold the Dawn still manages to maintain a special place in my heart. Aside from the fact that it was a comparatively uncomplicated book to write, I’m still just as much in love with those characters as I was when I first created them. Marcus Annan—surly, broken, and good-hearted—and crazy, funny, irreverent Peregrine Marek were such a blast write.
5. What is the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
The one that comes to mind right now is the admonition that if I didn’t take my writing seriously, no one else would. This was particularly valuable in combating the guilt I occasionally felt for taking the time to make writing a priority. But once I realized that I was the only one who could make it a priority, I got serious and started making it clear (as tactfully as possible) to others that my writing time was not to be taken lightly. That has made all the difference.
6. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just that the opportunity and desire to be a writer are tremendous blessings. As people who are able to dig deeper into our own world by creating new facets of it in our stories, we are blessed to see life with details magnified and colors heightened. It’s not hard to wake up every morning and be thankful for that.