I was born and raised in New Jersey, and books were a big part of my childhood. When I was about three and a half, I became obsessed with a Little Golden Book about a goat that gets a bucket stuck on its head. Since no one would read me the goat book as often as I wanted, I learned to read it myself—and haven’t stopped reading since. It was only inevitable that I turned to writing, so I could create more of the kind of stories that I like to read!
My favorite genres are mystery, sci-fi and paranormal/fantasy. I’ve always been fascinated by myths and fairy tales, and I love incorporating elements of ancient lore into modern stories. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and I currently live near Portland, OR, where I am a freelance writer and editor. My other esoteric skills include astrology, figure skating, and the ability to do a perfect split.
“We are the rulers of Midwinter. In the most powerful cold of the winter, in the deepest dark of the year, we hold sway, and all of your hearth fires cannot stand against us. We are the winds that howl down the chimneys and extinguish your candles. We are the northern lights and the hungry wolves; the bitter crack of ice and the killing frost. The raging blizzard and the deep, soft, final sleep of those lost forever in the snow.”
Bitter Snow is a modern retelling of the fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” in nine novellas. It’s my all-time favorite fairy tale, about a girl’s quest to save her childhood friend from the evil Snow Queen, through her courage, determination, and the strength of her love for him. Each volume is about 80-90 pages (32,000 words). The next three installments are scheduled for release in spring/summer 2014, with the final three to follow later in the year.
Q) What inspired you to write this story?
“The Snow Queen” has been my “someday” project for years—I’ve always wanted to write a modern version of it. It was my favorite fairy tale when I was a kid, and over the years I’ve collected various versions of the story, plus Snow Queen cookie tins, bookmarks…I even tried to create a ballet based on the story, when I was a teenager studying dance. Then, earlier this year, I noticed that some authors were experimenting with novella/novelette series. I thought, “Hmm, that sounds like fun. I wonder if I could do it?” “The Snow Queen” immediately popped into my head, followed by the basic idea for how the story could be expanded and modernized—and Bitter Snow was born.
I originally was going to do seven novellas, to match the “seven stories” structure of the original fairy tale, but then Volume Two got too long and became Volumes Two and Three. Eight volumes didn’t feel right (I’m a sucker for those magic numbers—three, seven, nine), so I decided to expand it to nine volumes.
Q) How long did it take you to write?
I got the idea in February 2013, though at first it was intended to be more of a side project, so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on it. Gradually, though, it kind of took over my writing time, which is limited at the moment by my day job as a freelance editor. I’m finishing up the final edits on Volume Three: Twelfth Night right now, so it took about 10 months for the first three volumes (about 275 pages combined, 100,000-ish words). About the size of one average full-length novel.
Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
That feeling when the story is unrolling in my head like a movie. I can see and hear it all, and I can feel that energy translating itself onto the page. The story becomes real in my mind, and hopefully becomes real to my readers.
If I don’t get that feeling, either in the first draft or the rewrites, then I know that that particular section of the story isn’t ready for prime time yet.
Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
When that thing I talked about in the last question isn’t happening! First drafts are really hard for me, unless I have a detailed outline of the scene already in place. Sometimes you just have to get words out on the page anyway, and fix them later, but it’s hard for me when I’m typing away and I know the story just isn’t coming to life yet.
Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Does it have to be a real-life person? Because I want to be a kick-ass female action hero like Katniss Everdeen or Xena the Warrior Princess or Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica (the new version where Starbuck is a woman). And if I’m only her for one day, chances are I won’t have time to get myself seriously maimed.
Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
I cleaned out my fridge about a week ago, and found some very scary things in it. I think the oldest was a jar of some unidentifiable green-fuzzed gravy-like thing that had to be about a year old. It was not pretty.
The oldest thing I’ve ever had in my fridge was a parfait glass of green Jell-o that slipped behind one of the crisper drawers and wasn’t found for 18 months. The most disturbing part was that it looked virtually unchanged—just harder and less jelly-like. That scared me a little—what is this stuff that never dies? I don’t think I’ve eaten Jell-o since.
Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
In 2014 I’ll be working on the next 6 volumes of Bitter Snow. Also in progress is the sequel to my first book (Aladdin’s Samovar), which is a humorous suspense novel about a woman who finds a genie in a brass samovar, makes a wish, and ends up on the run from the Mafia with her long-lost father. (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005PG4Q18)
In the sequel, the genie continues to get my main character, Amber Polaski, into all kinds of trouble—this time involving an evil clown, buried treasure, and a midget cowboy carnival show.
I may be delusional to think I’m going to get all that done in 2014, but I’m going to try!