Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am a queer mixed race-African American/Choctaw Native American who grew up across the fabric of the United States and parts of Europe. Like so many people of color, I’ve come to experience a sense of “otherness,” within the United States. Once I graduated from college, I took on several Training and Development management positions within the government and private sector. Often tasked to develop and deliver courses around diversity issues, I brought an expanded understanding of the impact implicit bias has on all aspects of the work environment.
A few years ago, with nothing more than a knowing, I felt called away from my normal, relatively safe corporate life. I resigned my position, pulled my life savings out of the market and step by step followed the wisdom of my Beloved. I am certified as a Success Principles trainer and speaker, and offer half day and full day workshops. I am also a personal life coach.
Which writers inspire you?
Paulo Coelho, Elizabeth Gilbert and Toni Morrison most inspire me.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Smythe holds a secret that drives a lot of her behavior. Despite her secret, she has the will and courage to meet the challenges that confront her–the most hair raising is that her life is placed in jeopardy over and over again. I love this character because she’s not all put together. In many ways she is us. None of us are put together. It’s easy to criticize her as the story unfolds, wondering why she was where she was at the beginning of the story; why she doesn’t accept help– but the truth is, none of us know how we would behave given similar circumstances. Her specialness is her humanness.
What draws you to this genre?
The breadth and diversity of the genre. I’ve been able to blur the lines of fiction and with a self help component. I find Joseph Campbell’s hero/heroine’s journey most intriguing and played off of that, creating a modern twist to the structure.
How much research do you do while writing a book?
Enough to write about it.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I write from 8 a.m.until about 3 p.m. before I start seeing clients. My day starts at 5 a.m. with meditation, after that a quick workout although I’ve injured my foot, so running has been challenging. Around 8 a.m. with tea and my laptop set before me, I re-read what I wrote the day before and nuance portions of the manuscript. Typically during the process of editing, I can feel new material welling up. I then begin to add to the story. Other times, I have to ask my characters what they need or want to say or do. Basically, where are we going and why? After my last client, the evening is my own to read, watch a film
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I work from where the idea takes me. I might be inspired by a recent self help book that I’ve read and decide to expand on an idea by allowing my characters to live that idea out. What does fear mean? What does courage look like? What does it mean to fail? What are the ways to follow one’s intuition? I allow the ideas to come to me and the explore the impact to my characters.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Endless story possibilities. Take a look at the current global predicament. We are faced with a relentless pandemic, and the reaction to our personal responsibility to the pandemic (really wearing a mask is a political statement???), and climate change. In the United States, racial unrest, a rancorous political climate, are easy topics to explore.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Get curious. Instead of bemoaning that I am exhibiting signs of writer’s block, I get curious about the nature of the block. I describe what the block looks like. I drop the pen, get into nature and discover where in my body the block is located. I describe the size of the block, the texture, whether it feels cool or warm. If it could speak, what would it say and why? What I’ve come to understand is that when a block has occurred, there is usually a level of self care that I have not engaged in and the block is to get my attention and deal with self care issue. Perhaps I am not getting enough sleep. I get curious wanting to understand why. At other times, there is something, perhaps a limiting belief that has cropped up that causes the block. Pretending the block isn’t there or bemoaning that there is one will not solve the issue for me. Getting curious without investing any emotional currency about the nature of blocks works best.
How do you relax?
I relax by listening to music, hawaiian usually. I watch feel good movies and spend time with my mom.
What is your favourite positive saying?
What if there is no problem?
That saying is tattooed on my arm. It is a visual cue to remind myself to consider the perspective –”what if everything that is happening around me is happening for my benefit.” It’s a twist on the equation E+R=O. Event plus response equals outcome. I may not be able to control the event, but I have the ability to affect the outcome by my response to the event. So, I can choose to see the event as occurring because there’s something good in it for me. A lesson that will expand my understanding and ability to live more fully into all that I am. Therefore when I am feeling stressed or wanting things to be different than what they are, I simply ask myself–what if there is no problem?