#1. Tell us something about your writing process.
Writing is a very visceral activity for me. I’ve been told I’m a ‘kinesthetic learner’, which basically means I learn-by-doing. Yep, my parents loved having a kid who leapt first and looked later and I have the scars on my knees to prove it.
When I’m in the idea stage of a new book or series, it really helps if I give the lead character some skill that I already know at least a little something about. I can always change all of that later, but it helps to have a starting point that feels familiar. The writing process goes more smoothly too if I set the story—at least at first—in a location where I’ve lived. I need sensory input, and sense-memories, to jumpstart the writing process.
I based some of the magic system in this series on needle crafts, like sewing and embroidery, because I love to work with my hands and I know how to do all that stuff. I set the first book in Northampton, Massachusetts because I lived there for three years, and I visited it often when I still lived in New England. It has tons of bookshops and cafes and an all-women’s college, and it felt very natural to place ‘Needles & Sins’ along one of its side streets, in one of its granite and brick buildings.
#2. Who designs the covers for your books?
My cover designer is the very talented—and very patient—Elizabeth Mackey. Working with her is so much fun that I sometimes wish I could just make up book titles and have her design covers for them! We’ve worked on ten covers together now, and our process starts with me looking through sites like Shutterstock and Neo-stock for images. I like to give Elizabeth an idea for the cover model, as well as images of objects that are important to the book.
For Once Blessed, Thrice Cursed’s cover, three things were important: I wanted the model looking over her shoulder, in a pose that says, “Hey, come on, let’s go explore”. I also wanted a staircase, open doors, and *magic* sparkling from her hands. For the follow-up novella, Demon Lines, I wanted a handsome ‘demon’ guy on the cover. He got a staircase, too, but his was more elegant. He’s a prince after all.
#3. How do you come up with your character names?
Naming characters is another favorite thing—could I just make up book titles and character names, and design covers?! For the Sister Witches series, it became clear there would be three sisters (and no secret sisters. Or brothers, lol). Their names were unusual, and they came in alphabetical order: Alderose, Beryl, and Clementine. But Clementine’s personality came to me first and for whatever reason, I felt that she would be the easiest to write. I think I might have poured a lot of the love I feel for my own sister, into her.
Clementine’s sisters have been a lot more challenging to figure out. Both Alderose and Beryl have secrets they keep from each other, and sometimes I want to yell at them for it—but then I wouldn’t have as much of a story to tell.
I find that clothes are important to developing each character. Alderose loves leather everything, probably because she’s a butt-kicking, knife-wielding witch. Beryl has all of her clothes made for her, and she loves vintage-style dresses, interesting shoes, and handmade lingerie. There’s a reason for all that—which we’ll learn about in book #4. And as for Clementine, she’s into jeans and her dog, Sitka. Until she meets Laszlo. And then she’s into demons, too.