Q) What started your interest in writing?

I’ve always had the desire to write, but no real story to tell. I dabbled in different genres, but the one thing I found myself returning to whenever I tried to write anything, was romance. That’s my favorite part of a book, whether I’m reading them or writing them—the first look, the undeniable attraction, the longing, the desire, the eventual caving. I’m a sucker for a love story. I wrote bits and pieces of small scenes here and there, but I couldn’t get any farther than a few pages until I started Thoughtless. Once I began that story, I couldn’t stop. Something kept driving me to keep going with it, to finish it.

Q) Where did the inspiration for Thoughtless come from?

Lots of daydreaming, lots of listening to music. Music is huge for me when I’m writing. One of the major reasons that Kellan is in a band is because I saw him so clearly while listening to some of my favorite songs by Linkin Park, The Fray and One Republic (I was obsessed with their album Dreaming Out Loud and listened to it nonstop). I started seeing a very clear image of Kellan singing on stage. His character blossomed from those early visions. For a while, he was just my no-name fantasy singer, someone I thought about while running on the treadmill…then I came across my inspiration for Denny. He’s based on an adorably cute Australian actor named Craig Horner. I started imagining some poor girl having to choose between these two very different guys. I sat down one night and wrote out the espresso scene. Then I started asking myself a bunch of why, when, where, and how questions. I had so much fun discovering the events that led up to that scene, that I immediately started dreaming up additional scenes. Before I knew it, I had several chapters completed, and even more questions to answer.

Q) Are any of the characters in Thoughtless based on people you know? Did any of the situations stem from personal experience?

I get asked this from time to time and it always makes me smile. I love that the story seems so plausible that people start to wonder if it’s real…that means I’m doing something right. But, no, nothing in this novel comes from personal experience. The only similarity to my life is the fact that Kiera has some of my quirks, insecurities, and writing aspirations.

Q) What were some of the inspirations for your other books?

Most of my books started with an image, or sometimes, just a conversation. Plots and story lines stemmed from that initial exchange or idea. With Collision Course, it was me driving home through a downpour and hoping nothing happened. With It’s All Relative, I was watching a show on TV, and imagined two people, who never thought they’d see each other again, meeting up to visit the same person in a hospital. With Not a Chance, I was at a bank, listening to a girl on her cell phone tell a friend that her wallet was stolen. With Conversion, I was watching a movie that had nothing to do with vampires…but somehow I started thinking about a conversation between a regular woman and a man who was a “little bit” vampire. Whenever I see or hear something that sparks an idea, I jot it down and tuck it into an “ideas” folder. I have a lot more stories in my head than I have time to write!

Q) How did you go about publishing your books?

Thoughtless was my first completed story, my baby. I initially wasn’t going to share it with anyone, but pure curiosity drove me to post it online. I wanted to know if it was any good, if I had any talent whatsoever at telling a story. I wrote it at the beginning of 2009 and finished it in June. In August of that year, I decided to post it on FictionPress, mainly because I could post it anonymously under a pen name. There are so many amazing stories on that website that I really wasn’t expecting mine to be found, let alone read, but it didn’t take long for the feedback to roll in. And, much to my surprise, most of the feedback was very, very positive! Getting reviews for it made me giddy; I got a little obsessed with checking my email for “story alerts.” By the end of the book, everyone had fallen for Kellan. Having other people love him as much as I do was a very surreal experience. I was hooked on writing after that.

I slowly started gathering a small fan base that grew a little more with every book that I posted after Thoughtless. When I had a half-dozen or so successful stories published on FictionPress, Nicky Charles introduced me to Feedbooks, a website that converts stories into free ebooks. I hadn’t intended to go any farther with my stories than FictionPress, but after seeing how professional Nicky’s stories looked as ebooks, I had to try it. To my amazement, thousands and thousands of copies were downloaded, and my books spread like wildfire over the Internet. My fan base grew by leaps and bounds.

Not long after that, I started getting multiple requests from fans for paperback copies of my books to put on their shelves. I wanted them on my shelf, too, so I started looking into self-publishing. There are several different websites available, but I decided to use Createspace for my paperbacks, since they are linked with Amazon. Once the paperback version of Thoughtless was available, people started asking if they could purchase the ebook. It was a hard decision for me, but after a tremendous amount of encouragement, I decided to treat writing more as a career and less as a hobby, and I started charging for my material. Nicky suggested using Smashwords as my ebook distributor. I loved the fact that they are linked with Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Apple, and thought it was the perfect place to start selling my books. After Smashwords, I decided to publish with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, so that Kindle fans would be able to get a copy as well. The popularity of the Thoughtless series has been greater than I ever thought it would be.

Since I wrote and distributed so many stories before I started charging for them, I have a backlog of novels to publish. Editing and publishing takes time, but my goal is to have all of them available in paperback and ebook in the next couple of years. And hopefully some new titles as well.

Q) How do you write?

I am a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. I typically have an idea of where I want the story to go, or certain points that I want to hit along the way, but it’s a very organic process. I also usually have an ending in mind when I start a story, but not always. Sometimes I’ll have two or three in mind, and I won’t know exactly how it will end until I get there. It’s like watching a movie unfold in my head, and sometimes the things that happen even shock me! There were quite a few parts in Thoughtless where some small thing that happened earlier in the story became critical later in the story. Kiera disliking talking to Griffin, for instance. I had no idea how important that detail would become to the storyline later on. Or Anna’s visit. At the time Kiera first spoke with Anna, I had no idea how that visit would go, other than badly. The notes in Effortless are another example. None of them were planned, and they turned out to be one of the fans’ most favorite parts. The last note especially. Sometimes things I’m sure are going to happen in the story don’t work by the time I get there. I have dozens of scrapped plot lines and notes in my room, some of them written on really amusing things, like brown bags, paper towels, Post-it Notes, envelopes, and business cards—whatever was near me when an idea popped into my head!

Possibly the hardest thing about writing Thoughtless was the way I wrote it. I wrote all of the major scenes first, then came back and connected them all together later. But when the characters started evolving and growing, I started inserting scenes, shuffling things around, changing when and where other scenes happened, and removing scenes that didn’t work anymore. For instance, the slap heard around the bar originally happened at their house…right in front of Denny, and the confessions scene happened right afterwards in their driveway, and didn’t include much of Kellan’s back story…since I hadn’t written the scene that inspired his tragic childhood at that point. It was a good learning experience though, and every story that I’ve written since Thoughtless has been more linear—chapter one to the end. I’ve had a lot fewer rewrites that way.

I try to write every day, preferably early in the morning before my children get up. From beginning to end, Thoughtless took me about six months to finish. For the next couple of years, I was releasing new stories every 3-4 months. I seem to be a lot busier now, so it takes me a bit longer to complete a story. I’m also no longer releasing stories on FictionPress first, so the book has to go through a lot of editing phases before it’s ready for publication. And I’ve been writing sequels lately, which takes a little longer than a fresh story, since there are so many aspects of the previous novels that I need to remember.

Q) What are your favorite scenes to write?

I love writing the heavy stuff. The more emotional a scene is, the easier it is to write—the rain scene in Thoughtless, the fight in the back room, their goodbye in Effortless, Lucas and Sawyer on the street in Collision Course, Teren fighting for his family in the Conversion series—all of that kind of stuff flows the easiest for me. I usually don’t even have to think about it…I just sit back, watch it play out in my head, and type as fast as I can. It’s also very different to write a heavy scene than it is to read it. I get tangled up into knots when I read books, but I don’t have the same reaction when I’m writing them. Mainly because I know what everyone is thinking and feeling, and how things are eventually going to end up.

The sex scenes would be my next favorite to write. Or even just the flirting scenes are fun. I love writing sensual moments, where the characters are driving each other crazy, but in a good way. It’s even more fun if they aren’t supposed to be attracted to each other, like in Thoughtless and It’s All Relative. I love angst.

Q) Will there be any more books in the Thoughtless series?

Possibly. I don’t think I will be doing anymore books through Kiera’s eyes, but the series might continue through other characters. Since I’ve finished Griffin’s book, Untamed, I’ve considered books for Matt, Evan and Denny. I’ve also debated doing more books through Kellan’s point of view. Thoughtful covers the events before and during Thoughtless, but I might do books that cover the events around Effortless and Reckless. I’m not sure when (or if) any of those will happen though. It all depends on which character is speaking to me the loudest!

Q) How do you pick your character’s names?

Most of the time the name will come to me as I’m writing it. Sometimes the name will come to me because of another character saying it. Lucas, for example. His mom kept calling him Luc, so that was his name. Sawyer was a unique girl, so I loved her having a unique, literary name, and that was the first one that popped into my head. Some names I researched so I could get ones that matched the nationality of the character. Halina, for instance. The lead girl’s names were usually just ones that I’d always liked. It was great to be able to use them somewhere! Some names I stressed over for a long time…Nika and Julian were unnamed for ages. Some names were very deliberate. Hunter. Chance. Jessie, because it was short for Jessica. Kai was a name I heard on a TV show ages ago, and I’d always loved it. Teren was the last name of a customer where I worked. I loved it as a first name, and incorporated it into the story as a last name that was given to him to honor his family. Denny and Kellan were favorites for me from the start, although, they were originally swapped—Kellan was Denny, Denny was Kellan. Denny sounds more Australian to me though (thanks to the movie The Man From Snowy River), so I switched them. And, let’s face it, Kellan is a sexier name.

Q) What do the D-Bags sound like?

There are hundreds of songs that make me think of the D-Bags. There are snippets of songs that are exactly like them in my head—words, phrases, breathy exhales that give me the chills. But these full songs are the ones that perfectly capture the sound of the band and Kellan’s “tone.”

“New Divide” by Linkin Park. This is my go-to song for the D-Bags overall sound. It is them in my head.

“Leave Out All The Rest” by Linkin Park. This is Kiera’s favorite song. The one she hears in chapter one that makes her take a second look at Kellan.

“Shadow of the Day” by Linkin Park. His voice on this song…beautiful. Just how I imagine Kellan’s.

“What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park. Another one with just the right D-Bag sound.

Click to listen to the DBAGS Setlist!