Thank you for taking the time to interview with me.
1. How were you inspired to become an author?
TS: I read a Johanna Lindsey story and from there, I started to read every romance I could get my hands on. This went on for about two years. I absorbed the books. Then, of course, I wanted to write one. I sat down and figured out a plot and started writing and didn't show it to anyone until I'd written a few chapters. Then I took a weekend workshop at a regional conference and Debbie Macomber was my teacher. She encouraged me and... I just kept going!
2. Did it take a lot of rejections for you to finally get published or was it pretty easy for you?
TS: I find now that I was published fairly easily. My first book was picked up by Dorchester Publishing. Nowadays that is a rarity. I am currently in a hiatus in my career, however, where the publishing is not coming easily, so, moral of the story is I guess you pays now or you pays later... At some point in a writing career you will have to work without outside reinforcement, like being recognized as a writer, or being published, or getting great reviews, to cheer you along. Whether that is at the beginning, middle or end of your career differs with each person. And don't forget that much in a publishing career is out of the writer's hands. We can do the work and make sure it's the best book we can write, but we can't control if it will be bought by an editor or readers.
3. How do you find out all of the information needed on the Native American legends and myths?
TS: My BA degree was in Anthropology. I learned to research while gaining that degree. I find the best information is from the anthropological studies, and not necessarily on the internet. I've spent a lot of time reading books! I've also interviewed Native American people. I find that was often the most helpful and I continue to prefer to interview people on any number of topics. It lends a depth I need for the story.
4. Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?
TS: I like to sketch a story out longhand on a yellow legal pad first. That way, I get to play with the ideas. I've also discovered 3 X 5 cards are wonderful for getting your scenes down and then you can move the cards around until you get your story flowing the way you want it to. I get to the computer fairly quickly, however, and work from an outline, typing as I go deeper into the story.
5. How long does it take for you to write books?
TS: Usually 9 months to a year.
6. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?
TS: I look at it more in terms of story-telling. E-Books, published paperbacks, movies, they are all mediums for the storytelling. People want stories. We learn so much from them. We use them to guide us through life's torturous pathways. I think that story telling is never going to go away. It may change or the structures may change but there is always going to be a demand for stories.
7. Is there anyone that you can think of that influences your writing?
TS: There are probably so many influences I can't name them all. Influences are all around me, from newspapers, movies, and other people, to ideas that one gets. I like Christopher Vogler's 'The Writer's Journey.' Joseph Campbell. Movies. I think earlier on in a career, writers are more influenced by a role model. After a writer has gained some skill and experience--when they get their own voice--a writer may shy away from reading others in an attempt to keep their own voice more authentic.
8. Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?
TS: Ideas can come from anywhere. It is our individual unconscious that needs to be open to the stimulus of something outside or inside of us. Dreams, a chance word, an idea. A question about life. Any number of things. Bottom line is I think that the ideas come from what we call God, or the Universe, or one's Higher Power, or whatever you want to name the Great Mystery. I do not use people whom I know for my characters. I stay away from that. Besides, how can I really know another person? Real life events can be fun to write about in a story, but again, I write fiction so I would change the details, or give it different ending.
9. Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
TS: I am currently working on a screenplay and a contemporary novel.
10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?
TS: Ah, advice... yes. Hmmmm. The story is the thing. What I've found is that a writing career takes a lot more work and effort than I ever thought it would. I've found that I meet wonderful people along the way. I've found that I learn a heck of a lot about myself and how I look at the world. I've found that if you persevere in writing stories, it can be very rewarding for the writer as well as for the reader.
Interviewed by Sarah on 3/10/04.