If someone looked at your browsing history right now, what kind of things would we find?
You’d find plenty of research on how to commit suicide that looks like murder and murder that looks like suicide, baby name guides galore, google maps zeroed in on locations around the globe, decomposition rates for dead bodies, photos of corpses…plus several book purchases on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, a luggage purchase on Eddie Bauer, and daily searches on Trip Advisor, Marriott, Jetblue and American Airlines—I’m in the midst of planning a book tour AND an upcoming vacation.
2. If you could write about any subject that is near and dear to your > heart, what would it be and why?
I’ve lost my mom, my mother-in-law, and my husband’s aunt to breast cancer, all just in their 50s and 60s; my sister-in-law and a close friend, in their 40s, are survivors. Sadly, I know very few people who haven’t been touched in some way by this disease. I was told years ago that a heroine with breast cancer would never sell, but I pulled it off in my 2006 Christmas Time Travel IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS (written under my romance pseudonym Wendy Markham)—a sleeper hit, it was twice reissued in print format, and will make its digital debut this Christmas. I’m about to feature breast cancer bloggers in my upcoming thriller THE PERFECT STRANGER (Harper, 2014).
Do you have a favorite song, album, or playlist to write to?
I’m a U2 fanatic, so hearing Bono on vocals and the Edge on guitar tends to energize me even on a sluggish winter’s day. I also have a mellow playlist called “create,” featuring art-inspired songs from some of my favorite musicals—like “One Song Glory” from Rent and “Finishing a Hat” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George.
What was the first thing you did after the debut of the first book you > wrote?
Walked into the local bookstore to introduce myself, deliver homemade cookies, and sign stock copies. Having been a bookseller in the past, I knew that it was crucial to build a relationship with, and express my gratitude to, booksellers, who can often make or break a career. To this day, I continue to schedule stock-signing events on my ongoing 50-state book tour so that I can meet booksellers and deliver treats to the staff, to thank them for all the support. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
5. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Unsolicited advice. Family, friends and strangers alike (especially in this age of social networking!) seem to feel entitled to offer their advice and opinions on others’ personal and professional matters. I’ve always confidently lived my life based on my own advance research and gut instinct, and with all due respect, I’m not interested in outside opinions on how I should raise my kids, where or how I should live, what I should or shouldn’t eat, read, watch, wear, buy…! But I’m too polite to do anything but listen and thank you when you offer it. So if you’re not me—or married to me, or editing my books, or agenting them—then please, please, PLEASE keep your opinion to yourself. Unless I’ve asked for it. And I very seldom do.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Oh, absolutely! Wine. Upgraded travel. Bad reality TV. Entertainment magazines. Ridiculously expensive soy candles and Japanese Quince hand soap.
What was your favorite book as a teen?
Aside from the Little House Series, which I’ve read and reread basically all my life, I had dozens of favorites. Two standouts: Hangin’ Out With Cici by Francine Pascal and A Billion For Boris by Mary Rodgers.
If an aspiring writer asked for advice what would you tell them?
Do your homework! Learn how the industry works! And if at all possible, get a part-time job in a bookstore. I did that as a teenager, and it was a great way to gain insight into the commercial end of the publishing industry—crucial for anyone who wants to sell his or her work. Pay attention to which publishers publish which kinds of books, what draws a customer to one book over another, the rhythm of market and seasonal trends. Authors cannot get very far without readers and booksellers, so figure out what makes them tick.
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