What is your favorite writing and reading genre?
I grew up reading fantasy (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Robert Jordan). I love getting completely lost in a high-stakes adventure in a fantasy world. Writing fantasy is even more fun because I get to create the world myself, and there’s truly no limit to what can happen. I also read a lot of science fiction now, though when I was growing up I was more into scifi movies than books.
Where and how did you get your idea for your books?
I get my best ideas while I’m working on other books. Inspiration is a lot more likely to strike if I’m in front of my computer wrapped up in another novel. I also get ideas from the world around me: a cruise ship in the harbor, a person passing me on an escalator, a visit to a new place. If something in the real world sparks an idea, I usually mix it up and make it my own. I fenced for many years, so that naturally inspired my Steel and Fire series. I was also influenced by the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), which my husband likes to watch. I’ll occasionally watch the fights, but I’m more interested in the way some of the athletes develop personas for themselves to increase their popularity. I mashed that up with fencing and stuck it in a fantasy kingdom, and I’ve been having a blast ever since.
If a movie or TV show would be created for your books, which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead roles for you books?
This is a tough one. I think Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones would make an interesting Dara Ruminor (her co-star Maisie Williams was my pick for Esther in my first series, The Seabound Chronicles). Teresa Palmer would also be great as Dara. Nicholas Hoult is my pick for Prince Siv. If Alden Ehrenreich does well as young Han Solo, he could be a strong contender as well. I’d like to see Hailee Steinfeld as Princess Sora and Elle Fanning as Princess Selivia.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I started writing when I moved to Hong Kong from Arizona in 2010. I had always been interested in publishing and originally planned to be a book editor. When I moved abroad I found I had my own stories to tell. Eventually I made the transition from writing about traveling in foreign lands to actually creating foreign lands from scratch.
How did you get your book published? How long did it take for you to get it published?
My first book under another pen name was published by a small press here in Hong Kong in 2014. While that book was going through the process of being traditionally published, I realized that my writing speed—and the science fiction and fantasy I was working on by then—would be better suited for self-publishing. I released my first Jordan Rivet book in November 2014 and have been making a living from my writing since May 2016.
Do you ever get writer's block? If so, which book did you get the worst while writing?
I’m a firm believer in keeping a regular writing schedule. I show up for work every day and write whether I feel like it or not. If I get stuck, it’s usually because I don’t know what’s supposed to happen next. I avoid this by outlining my plots before I start the book and by giving myself permission to make mistakes in early drafts. Rough drafts become a puzzle to solve, and that’s a lot easier than staring at a completely blank page.
What is the average time for you to write a book?
I can write a book in about three months. Often I’ll work on more than one at a time so I can let a book “rest” between drafts. This means there might be more than three months between each publication depending on what I’m working on at the time.
For your own reading, do you prefer kindle or paperback books?
Definitely Kindle because I can take it with me everywhere, even if I’m reading a big fantasy doorstopper. I’m able to read more books than I used to before I got my first Kindle. English paperbacks are also really expensive in Hong Kong, and I save a lot of money by buying Kindle editions. We have very small apartments here, so I don’t have room for a huge paperback library. Maybe one day!
How are the covers made for your books?
Deranged Doctor Design created my covers. I sent them a description of the first book in the series and a few examples of fantasy covers I liked, and they came up with the concept. For the later books in the series I select the color and the central item (sword, crown, etc.), and they make the books beautiful from there. In a few cases I’ve sent stock photos of possible central items, and they’ve found even better alternatives.
What advice would you give writer wannabes and future/young authors?
Read a lot. Set realistic expectations. Plan to write several books before you start to see traction. Almost nobody hits it big with a single book. Figure out what your goals are (making a living, winning literary acclaim, etc.), and write the kind of books that will actually help you achieve those goals. Write regularly. It’s amazing how many wannabe writers don’t actually sit down and do it. And when you finish your first book, start the next one immediately!
What do you do during your free time, how do you relax?
Reading is my favorite way to relax. I also like watching movies and TV shows with my husband and going out to eat with friends. Writing was my main hobby before it became my day job, and it’s still a great way to spend my free time.