Q: Can you tell us a bit about Clovenstone?
A: Clovenstone is a traditional quest tale. Although there is one protagonist, drawn onto a path to a destiny designed centuries before her time, it is also the tale of several people who become caught up in the same path. Their lives are subplots that are threaded into the quest by events beyond their control. The book is 700 pages. I wanted to fully develop the setting and characters to create a reality that readers could immerse themselves in. Even the principle creatures of fantasy, a shapeshifter bear, a fyr derrig, and a flying lynx, have distinct personalities.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the research you did before writing Clovenstone?
A: I researched history, cultures, mythology, herbalism (the protagonist is an herbalist) and vocabulary not only before, but all during writing C lovenstone. Even though Kildonan is a completely fantastic country, I wanted the ambiance to have a ring of authenticity about it. To give you an idea, here's a few of the books I used: Mythology of the British Isles, Scottish Witchcraft, Life in an English Country Cottage, Brother Cadfael's Herb Garden, The Celtic World, Anglo-Saxon Life. But I need to emphasize that Clovenstone is first and foremost a tale of adventure. All the research and literary foundation are just stage props for the dramatic action.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: I am working on the sequel to Clovenstone. It is titled Stones Seven. I originally designed the quest to be a trilogy, though it may get finished in the second book. The search for Clovenstone is just a waystop on the way to a larger dream of reunifying the land of Kildonan, torn apart in a catastrophic event centuries before the story opens.
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
A: The things that are hardest for me about writing are the same complaints you hear from every writer. A. There's never enough time to write. The world keeps calling you away from your work. B. The dreaded "writer's block." The words flow, the story tells itself to you, and then crash! you hit the wall. I find that taking a long walk and "brainstorming" will often get me over that wall.
Q: What drove you to write fantasy fiction in the first place?
A: I never considered writing fiction at all until the mid-nineties. But when I did decide to give it a try, fantasy/scfi was an obvious choice. Did I tell you that I've seen Star Wars at least 30 times? I taught Tolkien when I taught high school English, even though it wasn't in the curriculum. Going farther back, my father introduced me as a child to John Carter of Mars, and I devoured every volume. The influences of Beowulf, another favorite, can be found in Clovenstone. I live in my imagination. I was walking a beach one day on an island in Maine and picked up an unusual stone. "This could be a magic stone." I stood on that rocky beach in the sunlight with the stone in my hand, roamed around in my imagination, and a fantasy was born.
Q: When you're not writing, what do you do to relax?
A: I'll admit it. I'm a computer junkie. I design web pages, put out newsletters, and am involved in a startup Internet company. I'm on the computer from noon until bedtime nearly every day. I do make myself leave the computer off in the mornings and take long walks or work in my gardens. So I guess that's when I relax. I also love to travel. I'll be out the door to Alaska at the drop of a hat - with my laptop under my arm.
Q: What has the Internet meant to you as an author?
A: I could not be published without the Internet. I found my publisher on the net. The Internet is my main means of personal promotion for the book. I can, and have, reached the world. I get letters from Finland, Maylasia, Germany about Clovenstone. I have learned about publishing, about marketing, the latest techniques from the net. Clovenstone owes its life and its future to the Internet.