1. What inspired you to write your book?
I had several inspirations. The first was to tell a great story and give readers their money’s worth. Secondly, I wanted to create a strong, flawed female character who has passion, integrity and true grit. I hope I’ve done that with Erica Sparks. Speaking of True Grit, that wondrous novel inspires everything I write. For my money, Mattie Ross is one of the greatest characters in American literature. I hope that doesn’t sound pretentious. Let me put it this way: she reaches into my heart and soul and puts me in touch with my core humanity. Does that sound pretentious? Oh, who cares? I love Mattie.
2. What is The Candidate about?
The Candidate is about a presidential election. One of the candidates, Mike Ortiz, is not who he seems -- in some truly creepy and twisted ways. He may or not may be controlled by a foreign power. And his scheming heiress wife Celeste has an unhealthy obsession with Lily Lau, a glamorous Chinese-American woman of dubious … everything.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
I hope readers will have a great time with the book – and will maybe think a little bit about the state of our democracy. Just because it’s been working for 240 years, doesn’t mean we should take it for granted. In fact, it may be more tenuous than we think. Look at our real election. Donald Trump has stated he may not accept the will of the American people. That unprecedented attitude presents a real threat to our democracy. And Donald also has some very unhealthy ties to Putin. This is serious stuff. I can’t believe how much it dovetails with The Candidate.
4. What advice do you have for writers?
Bow down to the great god of Word Count. Set a number for the day and DO NOT QUIT until you reach it. Take breaks if you want, but always go back until you hit that daily goal. Then reward yourself with a glass of wine, a hot bath, a Real Housewives, a chocolate cookie. Then do the same thing tomorrow. If you stick with this regimen, your book will get written. Remember: every word you write is part of the process. Be aggressive!
5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
There have been so many premature postmortems for the book industry. People love to read. It’s a personal relationship between writer and reader. The number of thriving independent bookstores is growing. We’re a huge diverse nation filled with smart curious people. They’re hungry for good books. So I’m very optimistic about the industry.
6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
Me and research have a fraught relationship. I do it, but I can’t say I love it. Bless Google, of course. I used to have to trudge to the library. And plotting takes … well, it can be tricky and confusing. You have to keep things plausible at the same time as you go big with the story. Every book has its own set of challenges, but if I stick to my word count I somehow work through them.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
You’re straining my modesty with that question. I’ll just say that The Candidate is a blast.