What is your newest book about? Big Horn Storm is a contemporary western adventure set in rugged mountain country. The story combines a too-close-to-home military crisis, a terrifying bear encounter, a traumatic accident, harrowing horseback escapes, and an attempt to reconcile the past in an action-packed thriller.
What inspired you to write it? I’ve always loved a good adventure story, but when a Creative Writing teacher in high school wrote on my paper that with more character development I would have a novel, it planted the seed that maybe I could be a published author. I carried that paper around for many years and eventually took her advice and turned the assignment into The Lodge, which was published in 2004.
What is the writing process like for you? My creative process is inspiration driven. I can’t force a certain number of pages or words per day and the process for each novel varies. Sometimes the characters create the story (Big Horn Storm) and other times the plot gels before I’ve had a chance to get to know the characters such as when I wrote Marked in Mexico and Desperate Dreams. But, I do something writing-related every day whether it’s working on a new story, editing a finished novel, or marketing a new release.
What did you do before you became an author? I started working for the National Park Service shortly after graduating from college. I’ve worked in a variety of positions in a number of parks including Hawaii Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns, and Grand Teton National Park.
How does it feel to be a published author? I’ve written stories since I was a teenager, but the opportunity to share those with others makes the whole process all the more rewarding, especially when I get positive feedback and readers really love my stories.
Any advice for struggling writers? I’m sure everyone has heard this before, but first and foremost, you need to write a great book. Set realistic goals and jump in with both feet. It’s nearly impossible to guess what the next big thing will be, so write what you know and love. Write daily, promote daily, and learn from your successes and mistakes. Don’t get frustrated and never give up.
Where do you see book publishing heading? As mentioned above, it’s impossible to guess what the next big thing will be. I do believe a great story will never go out of style, so I see the changes in book publishing primarily in the arena of how books are marketed and how audiences are targeted.