On Facebook, I asked for some questions that were a bit out of the ordinary and received plenty! So here’s part 3. Feel free to answer any of these questions yourself in the comments if you like! I’m trying to alternate “personal” and “professional” questions, so here goes:
Q. When you were young, did you feel the need to be part of the “in” or “popular” group?
A. I never was part of the “in” crowd, but I was always lucky to have a bunch of good friends. Of course I wanted to be popular, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I think back to those school years and wonder how the popular kids had the confidence to get involved in so many activities and to stand out. I was school phobic until my third year of college (that is a looooong time!), which means I was always anxious in school and never spoke up in the classroom. However, outside of school I was sociable and happy.
Here’s a good example of what I mean. This guy, I’ll call him Stan, sat next to me in home room for three years. In our senior year, I had a boyfriend I’ll call Joe. One night Joe and I went to the local diner. Stan was sitting in the next booth with some friends. I was being loud and smoking and having fun joking around with Joe. I was out of matches, so I asked Stan for a light. As he lit my cigarette, he asked “Do you have a sister at PHS? There’s this girl in my homeroom who looks a lot like you.” I was shocked…and so was he when he realized the fun-loving diner girl and the mouse in his homeroom were one and the same.
Q. How do you find experts to help you with your books and how do you approach them to get their help?
A. Part 1 of the question: The internet has made this easy. I just search for the expert I need. I also belong to a large local women’s organization and I can ask them via email if they know an expert in the field I’m researching.
Part 2 of the question: If I have some serious brain picking to do of a particular expert, I ask them to lunch of dinner. This has gotten easier as I’ve become more successful and can be taken more seriously, but even while writing my first two novels, I took an obstetrician, a primatologist, a meteorologist and a Smithsonian ornithologist to lunch. (Not all at the same time!) I’ve been amazed at how forthcoming people are when I ask for help. Most people love talking about what they do to a captive audience!
Q. Have you always had a dog in your life, even when you were little?
A. No. My mother was afraid of dogs and I took on her fear, although I was also very curious about them. When I was in college, I lived with some other young women for a while and one of them had a dog and that changed everything for me. I began to see dogs for the cool critters they are. Still, I didn’t get my own until I was thirty-five. I had a string of wonderful Golden Retrievers, followed by a Bernese Mountain Dog. Then when I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis, I knew I needed to “downsize”. That’s when I turned to Shelties. I have two of them now, Keeper and Cole. I can’t imagine not having a dog in my life!
Q. I get so involved in a book, in a character’s life! Does this ever happen to you when you write?
A. Oh yes! The strongest example of this for me was during the writing of my third novel, Secret Lives. One of the character’s stories is told through her journal entries. It was the first time I’d ever written in first person, and it made me feel very very close to the character, Kate. From the beginning of the book, the reader knows that Kate dies, but by the time I got to that part of the journal, I was beside myself. I didn’t want to let her go. I loved her so much. I even tried to figure out ways to change the story so I could keep her alive. But the story demanded her death. I still can’t read that one scene without sobbing.