What is your favorite writing and reading genre?
I would say I have a favored category but not genre. I tend to lean toward YA because it is a time of personal evolution for a lot of individuals and I find that all of my favorite novels involve a lot of personal growth for the main character. As to the genres like fantasy, romance, sci-fi, etc. I tend to jump around and will try just about anything. It’s all about the writing and characters.
Where and how did you get your idea for your books?
Growing up one of my friend’s mothers took me under her wing. She was a phenomenal woman who laid a lot of the groundwork for who I am and my personal beliefs. She was half Japanese and half Hawaiian and used to tell me beautiful stories and myths from the cultures she grew up around. Both of these cultures were very different from those I was a part of as a young girl in Los Angeles whose family was half soviet Jew and half mixed. I was surrounded by so many cultures and the way they all intertwined was so beautiful to me. When developing the Shadows of the Forest I pulled from the stories I had been told and those that surrounded me, weaving them together just like they were for me growing up but adding bits and pieces that made them my own. I added in the theme of appearances being misleading (again an LA theme) and ended up with A novel where nothing is as it seems, no rules are left unbroken, and a twin who always only saw herself as the broken half gains new perspective.
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 your books?
Ohhhhh this is a hard one. I would say Tao Okamoto as Lily and Harry Shum Jr. as Cole. Joe Morten as Baku, Zhang Ziyi as Usagi, Jun Matsumoto as Arro.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I never really decided to write, I just couldn’t help it. Publishing was more of a leap of faith but even if I ever stopped publishing I can’t imagine I would be capable of not writing.
How did you get your book published? How long did it take for you to get it published?
I am very blessed to be working with CHBB who is a great foundation for creation. They allow me to break rules others would be intimidated by and I am so grateful they accepted me when I submitted.
Do you ever get writer's Block? If so, which book did you get the worst while writing?
So, it isn’t exactly writers block but with the final novel in my Society of Feathers series writing the ending of the last book was incredibly hard. I sat on that novel with only 11 pages left for ages because I couldn’t handle saying goodbye to a series I had spent 3+ years making. Finally, I just sat down one day with a bar of chocolate and my headphones and penned the words I had known since I first started the series.
What is the average time for you to write a book?
The outline I tend to work on overtime. I have a folder of almost 40 of them I just randomly update when tidbits come to me.
That being said, my focus projects tend to be:
2 weeks for fleshed out outlines.
2 months for messy first draft.
2 months for the full rewrite.
2 weeks for section and then perspective rewrites.
2 weeks for self-edits but this is the part I set aside the most daily time for. I feel like it takes a specific mindset that is very raw, honest, self-critical, and calculating while still holding onto that creative element so I try to stay in the zone for the full two weeks and devote all free time to it.
So a total of five and a half months pre-submission and publication. I also tend to go back and make changes if I am given feedback so that can tack on some extra time.
For your own reading, do you prefer kindle or paperback books?
Both. I try to spend a few hours away from internet and my phone each day and feel that just because a person writes doesn’t mean they should ever stop reading. So I keep hardbacks on hand for my offline time and kindle books for while I am on the go.
How are the covers made for your books?
In the case of my Society of Feathers series it is all Regina Wamba’s magic touch! With Shadows of the Forest I used my own cover because I originally created the image to keep my inspiration levels high but ended up falling in love with it.
What advice would you give writer wannabes and future/young authors?
It is brutal. Develop a thick skin when submitting but remember to let yourself write raw material. Use your critical mind when outlining and developing your story but first drafts are meant for your emotions. Let yourself write out your heartache, your hopefulness, your own personal rebellion. Let yourself feel so much that you don’t remember your typing because you’re just living in the moment. Let it happen to you not just because of you. Writing can be the ultimate freedom and as an author my number one priority is protecting that freedom by letting it be its own part of the journey, while the rest that follows is separate. I guess what I am saying is that first draft is for living in the moment. The rest comes later.
Second piece of advice. Be brutal when self-evaluating. Not because it “isn’t good enough” (never tell yourself that) but because you are capable of so much that you know you can do even more. You are more than enough, you just have to find a way to let that out and put your nose to the grindstone for research. Remember, these aren’t things you are learning that will go away, learning to self-edit is a continuous author skill and one of the most worthwhile when it comes to getting into the publishing industry.
What do you do during your free time, how do you relax?
I practically collect hobbies. I draw (outside of my graphic design, just for me), I design jewelry, read tons, take photographs of nature, play games, and drink lots of tea. Oh yeah, and hang out with other awesome book and game lovers!