It’s not often a blogger is given such a high honor as getting to interview one of their favorite authors, but that’s exactly what I’m getting to do today. (Congratulations to me!!)
Please tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Glendale, California and knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of six. Yes, when other little girls were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, I apparently stated, “I’m going to be a writer…and maybe an actress too.” The acting bug never bit professionally but the writing part stuck. I played sick as a kid just to finish a play or story I was writing, going so far as to hold the thermometer under the hot water faucet to fake a high fever. This backfired once when I held it a little too long and it reached 110 degrees.
I went to Cal State University Northridge and graduated with a degree in Radio/TV/Film writing. From there, I worked in public relations and then moved on as a writer for the teen idol magazine Bop. During my time at the magazine, I helped promote The New Kids on the Block and many other popular teen and twenty-something pop performers. Eventually, I moved from there to editor of Healthy Kids Magazine and then I made the best decision of my life and moved from the Los Angeles, California to a little town in western Colorado. I was burnt out in L.A. and ready to change my life completely. Since I’d always had a love for plant medicine, I studied and got a degree in botanical medicine. I penned two books on herbal healthcare and wrote hundreds of articles and columns for magazines and newspapers on natural medicine.
But my true love has always been writing fiction. After writing a western novella for Louis L’Amour Magazine which was nominated for a Silver Spur Award, I began the long process of creating a crime thriller series with a metaphysical twist. And that is when Detective Jane Perry was introduced to readers.
What inspired you to become a writer?As an only child, I had to entertain myself a lot as a kid. I’d always been a creative child—drawing and making up songs. Writing was the next natural step and I delved into it with gusto. My parents were very supportive and even encouraged me to hone my skills so that I could eventually become a professional author. After getting a few short stories published as a teenager and then having my first one-act play produced when I was in college, I knew that being a writer was something that was as natural as breathing.
What was the most challenging thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your books that might have been out of your comfort zone?I had zero understandings of the workings of a real homicide detective and I wanted to make sure everything was authentic in the Jane Perry series. First thing I did was talk to a lot of police officers from all the various levels. Street cops, fraud detectives, homicide sergeants, etc. all helped me create a much more accurate picture of what I needed. I went on midnight to six in the morning ride-a-longs with two street cops and garnered insight into what goes on when the rest of us are asleep. But the most difficult part was realizing that I needed to describe crime scenes in a realistic manner. I met a homicide cop in Grand Junction, Colorado who was extremely generous with his time and put together a slideshow presentation of gruesome crime scenes. I needed to know what a knife wound really looked like, what a suicide gunshot to the head actually looked like, and on and on. But because of certain plot points in my first novel, Protector, I also needed to see crime scenes that involved children. This was probably the worst thing I had to witness and it certainly took me way out of my comfort zone. The only way I could view it was without emotion and looking on it as an investigator would— basically separating themselves from the reality and focusing on the arm, then the leg, then the head and so on. But there is still one photo that I can’t get out of my head and it’s not so much because of brutality. In fact, the two children in the photo appear to be sleeping peacefully in the photo. And I think that’s what gives it a sense of creepiness because if you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t know they were deceased.
If you could have a signed copy of any book what would you choose? Why?I think it would be pretty cool to have a signed copy of Huckleberry Finn with some sort of humorous inscription from Mark Twain. That was the first book that I was required to read in school and actually loved. So, it holds a special place in my heart. A close second would be Harper Lee’s autograph in my dog-eared copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. And that would be even better if it was signed to me personally. Again, I read the book while in high school and it was the first time I rooted for a main character to succeed.
Who are some of your favorite authors?I love a lot of the classics. Mark Twain and Harper Lee, I already mentioned. I also like some of George Elliot, E.M. Forster and Agatha Christie. Lately, I’ve really gotten into the acerbic work of the late political humorist Bill Hicks. Some of his observations are just shockingly accurate and unsettling and I love anyone who thinks outside the box.
What do you like to do in your free time?Free time? What’s that? I’ve heard of it but I don’t think I’ve experienced much of it since I’ve been buried in writing. Oh, right. Free time is what you do when you carve out “down time.” I’d have to say either something that entertains me (hopefully makes me either think or laugh) or spending time in the garden. Here in Colorado, we are only able to garden from about April to October, so any opportunity I can get to dig in the soil, plant vegetables, pull weeds, plant flowers, even mow the lawn is quite calming for me. And I’ve found that during those times, my mind can freely wander and come up with solutions to problems. It’s also a place where I have begun the germ of a new character or story idea. So, I guess that brings it all full circle back to writing.Gina ~ Hott Books
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