Q: Can you tell us a little about your book?
DARING TO FALL is the second in the Hidden Falls series. It’s a small-town, family saga following the McQuaid family, all seven siblings. This story centers around Ben McQuaid, the second oldest, a Hidden Falls firefighter who finds himself torn between his duty to protecting the town and his desire to protect a woman who might be threatened by the people of Hidden Falls. Emma Jordan, on the other hand, is returning to Hidden Falls and her father’s wildlife rescue, after his sudden death, to find that not everyone is excited about her return, or the fact that she’s taking over the sanctuary.
Q: How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
With the Hidden Falls series, I knew I wanted a family saga but I wanted a diverse family unit that, at first glance, seemed so complex they couldn’t possibly be as close as they are. The McQuaids were born. Ben has always been the “responsible” guy, the Jiminy Cricket to the rest of his brothers, and exactly the kind of guy who does you expect of a small-town hero. He needed a woman who would appreciate those aspects of him, even if it meant fighting her attraction to them.
Emma Jordan sort of created herself. The same things that draw her to Ben, frighten her and, oddly enough, are the same things putting her into the predicament she finds herself in. She’s tenacious, loyal and a hero in her own right. Determined to save others who can’t save themselves. However, the idea for an animal sanctuary came because, in spite of all my ambitions to be a writer when I was young, this was the other job I wanted to have – saving (or training) wild animals.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved the research for this book. As a kid, I spent hours reading about a wide variety of animals, sure that one day that information would serve me. It did, in DARING TO FALL. I would spend one day researching bobcats and the next figuring out exactly which type of dart gun and dosage of medication should be used. Not to mention that I was able to reach out to wildlife rescues, trainers and fireman. What could be better than that?
Q: What gave you the most trouble with this story?
Staying concentrated on the external conflict of their situation. I had a hard time with these two characters not wanting to keep their hands off one another. They have a great chemistry – it burns hot but both have reasons to hold back – and it meshed together well to create a very “real” couple with ups and downs. Unfortunately, if I’d left them to their own devices, I’m not sure the animals would have ever gotten fed.
Q: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
Easy! My cell phone. I live on it. I made sure the last time I upgraded that I purchased one that would serve me, and my writing, on the go. I do everything from it – reading, emails, texts, appointments, even writing. I can even set my home alarm from it. I even use it to set up playlists for while I’m driving. I’d be lost without it (which is why it has frequent backups!)
Q: What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?
The best? The fact that, most days, I don’t even have to brush my teeth if I don’t want to. I do, every day, I swear! But I don’t HAVE to. I have the freedom to style my hair or not, wear PJs all day or dress up. I can set a doctor’s appointment whenever I want to rather than in limited “free” time. I work around vacations and trips, around my kids’ schedules and when I want to. Being a writer has given me more freedom than any job I could ever imagine.
The most challenging? The freedom. When you don’t HAVE to do anything, you have to be self-disciplined to still get up every day and do what needs to be done. There are times, under deadline, when I’ve planned poorly and forgo a trip to the movies. Or, even more difficult, when I’m not under deadline to actually sit in the office chair and put words on the page knowing no one is keeping tabs and I have an entire season of Hart of Dixie waiting for me on my DVR.
Q: What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, you can either find me hanging out with my husband and kids (two- and four-legged). If I’m not out working with my horses – is it work if it’s something you LOVE to do? – the family loves being outdoors. We’ll take off and go to the beach for the day, hiking in the mountains, or playing in the snow. Living in California, we can pick from all three, in the same week even, and I’ll be taking pictures the entire way. If weather doesn’t permit, you can find us watching movies together with popcorn, pizza, candy and sodas.
Q: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Be prepared for the “real” life of writing. It’s not all fun and games, pajamas and book signings. Most days, it’s ugly, hard, gut-wrenching work. You will doubt yourself, listen to people rip your work apart and feel like you are crazy for attempting to make this your life. It’s okay…we all live there. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve written one book or nearly twenty, writing is always hard work. But, as I said earlier, is it really work if it’s something you love to do? Never give up on what you love to do, whether it’s writing, painting, acting, debate, mathematics, history, woodworking…do what you love and it will show in the results.