1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
Before I started writing, I knew I had a socially awkward, recently divorced woman as my main character and a sexy tour guide as her love interest. The adorable ex-husband, annoying best friend, mysterious new friend and a curmudgeon of a landlord came later. The characters developed into “real” people as I started to explore their relationships and writing dialogue.
2. Do your characters come before the plot?
I started writing with a very basic premise: what would happen if you gave in to a sudden urge to uproot your life and start over? What would you do and how far would you go when you lost just about everything you ever had? I wanted Jackie to be wary but resilient and ultimately victorious. I wanted Rick to be attractive but flawed. I really had no idea just how their relationship would evolve.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
I am a true romantic, so I knew when I began writing JEEP TOUR that I wanted Jackie to be happy at the end, but I was willing to wait and see just what happy “looked” like- with the new guy, someone else or blissfully unattached. I figured she would be employed but had no concrete job for her. At one point, I thought she might end up as a tour guide herself!
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
Sedona, AZ was central to the story so over two visits there I got a feel for the place, not from a tourist’s perspective, but what locals would do and where they would live. I also took a lot of photos to keep me inspired when I wrote.
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Research about Sedona was done primarily on location, with some help from a couple of online resources. I also consulted with my nephew and a female pal of his, in order to get a more accurate sense of what it was like to come of age in the late 80’s vs my experiences in the mid-70’s.
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
I wrote each of the 27 chapters with a very basic idea of what I wanted to see included: i.e. certain conversations, introduction of new characters, plot twists, flashbacks, main character development etc. The title of each chapter is actually a favorite song title or a phrase from pop culture. Most of my writing involved the use of Dragon voice-activated software, a gift from my thoughtful husband. I’m a slow typist with horrible handwriting so the only way this story would get told was if I had some help. The software kept up with the rapidfire dialogue which raced through my brain and recorded my questions (should she tell him now or wait??) so I could go back and answer them later.