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Find The Accidental Art Thief on Amazon.
Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
I am blessed to have been able to make my living writing and working with writers. I have worked as a publisher, publicist, ghostwriter, copywriter, editor, interviewer and even, occasionally, book agent. I’ve worked out of a home office most of my life—with my kids running around in the background when they were small, and now my dog keeping his good eye on me from the sofa. In my free time I write fiction, and some nonfiction. And I love to read fiction, and some nonfiction. I live in New Mexico with my husband, Michael Dooley. He is a fabulous photographer (as well as an environmental consultant), and we have had some of our travel pieces (his photos, my text) published.
When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
I was still in high school when I decided I wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t know whether I had any talent until I took my first creative writing course at the first of three colleges I attended. My short story that semester won the second place prize in the school’s annual creative writing contest. That was enough to keep me motivated.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
I was not an avid reader as a child. We had only a few books in the house. The dictionary was kept on the same shelf in my parents’ bedroom where my father’s condoms were, so I didn’t dare approach it. I went to a Catholic grammar school that had a library the size of a closet. We had to line up for library visits, according to size. As I was one of the taller kids, I was always at the back of the line. By the time I got to the closet, all the Nancy Drews were gone and there was nothing left but the lives of the saints. Worse, a nun always stood guard in there to make sure no one took more than one title. All in all it was a horrifying experience. Most of us would grab anything to get in and out quickly. Luckily I discovered Edgar Allan Poe in a collection that had belonged to my grandfather. That set me straight.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
A number of years ago I sent an email to a friend of mine, but because I misspelled her email address, it actually landed in a stranger’s inbox. The stranger and I discovered that we had a lot in common and we became great friends for a while. My protagonist has the same thing happen; an email she intends for one person winds up in someone else’s inbox. That’s the end of the similarity. But my reinterpretation of the experience became the nucleus for the novel, with all kinds of other events collecting around it.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
I almost always begin my books with an outline, which I then build on. This is the first book I didn’t have an outline for. I just went chapter to chapter. It was really fun to write that way. I got to surprise myself sometimes. I don’t think I would write every book that way, but for this one it worked.
Did your book require a lot of research?
I spent three days at a Zen center, attending a conference on money and fundraising. As I was writing about money in my book, I was able to put some of things I learned to good use.
What was your goal when writing this book?
To make it fun and a little zany but also to talk about serious issues that I’m working on understanding myself.
Who is your target audience?
Probably people who read Alice Hoffman, Sue Monk Kidd, Kate Atkinson, Carolyn Parkhurst… which is to say people who love literary fiction with a touch of magical realism.
What will the reader learn after reading your book?
Hopefully readers will find it really entertaining and be smiling when they close the cover on the last page. Maybe they’ll think about some of the issues that come up in the story too.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
Water seems to stimulate ideas for me, whether in the form of shower spray, or from the sink faucet while I’m doing dishes, or being in or near a river or even the ocean.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!